Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Guardian piece

So, the Guardian piece was (I think) relatively well received. I've had extremely nice emails from colleagues, mostly around the idea that it was pleasing to see something thoughtful and balanced about climate engineering, which is nice. Some of the comments on the article were a bit odd, some were critical but one stood out -  they made the observation that the term 'climate engineering' was disingenuous. What they actually wrote was:

'Nice switch from "geoengineering" to "climate engineering". Makes it sound much more soft and cuddly.'
I'd probably not have paid too much attention to that but for the fact that (independent of the Guardian piece) my good friend Duncan McLaren (Friends of the Earth & Lancaster University) had made the same point at a meeting yesterday. Now, when Duncan speaks, I listen. He's a pretty serious thinker on this stuff and, whilst we don't always agree, his observations certainly affect me. He pointed out that there was some evidence 'climate engineering' was a term people were more comfortable with (he did not see that as a positive, neither do I). I chose to use climate engineering as I think it most accurately reflects the thing it is trying to describe. Geoengineering, to many, is building dams and culverts. Climate engineering is exactly what it says it is - the engineering of a large scale climate (natural) system. I need to ask Duncan where the evidence for his assertion is - I'm quite sure he has some. My feeling would be that the juxtaposition of something natural like 'climate' and the clearly anthropocentric term like 'engineering' (read mastery is some circumstances) is striking. Maybe I'm wrong on this one. Time will tell.

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