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Engineering a Cooler Earth: Can We Do It? Should We Try?

Friday, October 30th
8:20am to 5:30pm
Wong Auditorium (E51-115)

Besides general agreement on the need for both mitigation and adaptation in response to global warming, a more controversial approach has migrated from the science-fiction fringe into the main stream of public, political and scientific discussion. Climate engineering—intentionally manipulating Earth’s climate—is gaining currency as concerns over the implications of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mount. Many have come to see some form of engineered intervention as inevitable, if only to avert immediate climate catastrophe. But many others worry that such schemes simply divert attention from the pressing need to mitigate and adapt, by drastically reducing GHG emissions and planning for an uncertain climate future.

The desire to manipulate weather and climate is as old as humanity itself. New is the consensus realization that our very success as a technological species means that we do impact global climate, effectively engineering it by accident. Why then shouldn’t we choose to pursue this role with explicit intent—whether by removing GHGs from the atmosphere, limiting the net effect of solar heating, or both? The symposium will target this issue with a critical eye. Do we in fact possess the technological capability and scientific understanding to manipulate Earth’s climate with desirable or even foreseeable results? And what are the global political, social, legal and ethical implications of even trying?

Our acclaimed panel of expert scientists and thinkers offered an invigorating day of rigorous discourse on this topic of pressing global importance. To learn more, please click on the links below.



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