David R. Morrow
American University
Many commentators fear that climate engineering research might lead policy-makers to reduce mitigation efforts. Most of the literature on this so-called ‘moral hazard’ problem focuses on the prediction that climate engineering research would reduce mitigation efforts. This paper focuses on a related ethical question: Why would it be a bad thing if climate engineering research obstructed mitigation? If climate engineering promises to be effective enough, it might justify some reduction in mitigation. Climate policy portfolios involving sufficiently large or poorly planned reductions in mitigation, however, could lead to an outcome that would be worse than the portfolio that would be chosen in the absence of further climate engineering research. This paper applies three ethical perspectives to describe the kinds of portfolios that would be worse than that ‘baseline portfolio’. The literature on climate engineering identifies various mechanisms that might cause policy-makers to choose these inferior portfolios, but it is difficult to know in advance whether the existence of these mechanisms means that climate engineering research really would lead to a worse outcome. In the light of that uncertainty, a precautionary approach suggests that researchers should take measures to reduce the risk of mitigation obstruction. Several such measures are suggested.
Keywords climate engineering  geoengineering  moral hazard  risk compensation  precautionary principle
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,979
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Aerosol Geoengineering Deployment and Fairness.Toby Svoboda - 2016 - Environmental Values 25 (1):51-68.
Who May Geoengineer: Global Domination, Revolution, and Solar Radiation Management.Patrick Smith - 2021 - Global Justice : Theory Practice Rhetoric 13 (1):138-165.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Human Engineering and Climate Change.S. Matthew Liao, Anders Sandberg & Rebecca Roache - 2012 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 15 (2):206 - 221.
Wants and Needs in Mitigation Policy.David R. Morrow - 2015 - Climatic Change 130 (3):335–345.
Geoengineering and the Precautionary Principle.Kevin Elliott - 2010 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (2):237-253.


Added to PP index

Total views
59 ( #192,875 of 2,504,849 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #277,627 of 2,504,849 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes