Picking our poison: A conditional defense of geoengineering

Social Philosophy and Policy 38 (2):11-28 (2021)


Geoengineering involves intentionally modifying the environment on a massive scale and is typically proposed as a last resort to prevent catastrophic harms caused by climate change. Critics argue that there are powerful moral reasons against researching, let alone undertaking, geoengineering. Perhaps most notably, Stephen Gardiner argues that even if we are forced to choose between allowing a climate catastrophe or geoengineering—and geoengineering is the less harmful option—it could still be the case that we ought not to geoengineer. This essay argues for a conditional: if we are indeed forced to choose between catastrophic environmental harm and the less harmful option of geoengineering, then we ought to geoengineer.

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Christopher Freiman
College of William and Mary

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