MELBOURNE – As our planet’s climate heats up, so, too, does the debate about the boldest response to it: geoengineering, or the deliberate modification of the atmosphere to combat global warming. In 2010, when Ken Caldeira and David Keith published “The Need for Climate Engineering Research,” geoengineering had virtually no support. That is no longer the case.
Early critics like Clive Hamilton dismissed geoengineering as “playing god” – an objection that misfires when addressed to those who do not believe that a divine being is safeguarding the fate of the planet. A more secular version of the objection might state that we should leave nature alone, but that battle was lost decades ago. We humans have already overwhelmed nature, to such an extent that many scientists suggest that we are now in a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene.