Science, Technology, and Human Values 36 (2):190--212 (2011)

Authors
Benjamin Hale
University of Colorado, Boulder
Abstract
Many geoengineering projects have been proposed to address climate change, including both solar radiation management and carbon removal techniques. Some of these methods would introduce additional compounds into the atmosphere or the ocean. This poses a difficult conundrum: Is it permissible to remediate one pollutant by introducing a second pollutant into a system that has already been damaged, threatened, or altered? We frame this conundrum as the ‘‘Problem of Permissible Pollution.’’ In this paper, we explore this problem by taking up ocean fertilization and advancing an argument that rests on three moral claims. We first observe that pollution is, in many respects, a context-dependent matter. This observation leads us to argue for a ‘‘justifiability criterion.’’ Second, we suggest that remediating actions must take into account the antecedent conditions that have given rise to their consideration. We call this second observation the ‘‘antecedent conditions criterion.’’ Finally, we observe that ocean fertilization, and other related geoengineering technologies, propose not strictly to clean up carbon emissions, but actually to move the universe to some future, unknown state. Given the introduced criteria, we impose a ‘‘future-state constraint’’. We conclude that ocean fertilization is not an acceptable solution for mitigating climate change. In attempting to shift the universe to a future state geoengineering sidelines consideration of the antecedent conditions that have given rise to it —conditions, we note, that in many cases involve unjustified carbon emissions —and it must appeal to an impossibly large set of affected parties.
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DOI 10.1177/0162243910366150
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References found in this work BETA

Harming Some to Save Others.Frances Kamm - 1989 - Philosophical Studies 57 (3):227 - 260.
Ethics and Intentional Climate Change.Dale Jamieson - 1996 - Climatic Change 33 (3):323--336.

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Consenting to Geoengineering.Pak-Hang Wong - 2016 - Philosophy and Technology 29 (2):173-188.
Why and Where to Fund Carbon Capture and Storage.Kian Mintz-Woo & Joe Lane - 2021 - Science and Engineering Ethics 27 (6):70.
Indigeneity in Geoengineering Discourses: Some Considerations.Kyle Powys Whyte - 2018 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 21 (3):289-307.

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