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[Episode #26] – Geoengineering

As the world continues to struggle with the effects of climate change, energy transition is more important than ever as a key pathway to stopping global warming. But will it be enough? Many serious climate researchers think it won’t be, and urge deliberate attempts to directly alter the Earth’s climate by using a number of technologies, loosely grouped under the heading of geoengineering. But geoengineering has not won much support from the climate and environmental communities, and still struggles to gain enough legitimacy to attract sufficient research funding to attempt serious pilot projects that might tell us whether geoengineering holds real promise as a safe, cost-effective, and powerful tool in a portfolio of climate change mitigation strategies.

So what is the real potential of geoengineering to address climate change? How much would it cost? How risky is it, and what justification might there be for taking that risk? And what sorts of attitudinal shifts might be needed within the climate and environmental communities to embrace geoengineering as one of a portfolio of strategies? We attempt to answer all of those questions and more in this interview with a veteran science journalist and author of a recent book on geoengineering.

Geek rating: 5

Guest: Oliver Morton is a senior editor for Essays and Briefings at The Economist. He was previously the Chief News and Features Editor at Nature and editor of Wired UK. He is the author of The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change The World (2015), Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination and the Birth of a World (2002), which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award; and Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet (2007). His work has been published in New Yorker, National Geographic, Discover, Time, American Scholar, New Scientist, New York Times, Financial Times, Guardian and Wall Street Journal. He has a degree in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University and lives with his wife in Greenwich, England. Asteroid 10716 Olivermorton is named in his honour.

On the Web: Oliver Morton’s blog, Heliophage

Recording date: September 9, 2016

Air date: September 21, 2016