Can technology save the planet?
The rise of global middle class and consumerist societies has caused greenhouse gas emissions to steadily rise. Simultaneously, humanity is gaining a better understanding of Earth’s climate and what affects it. There is a growing recognition that lowering greenhouse gases alone will be inadequate to combat climate change, which has paved the way for “geo-engineering” to be included in humanities’ toolbox to limit negative climate consequences. This term refers to techniques to intentionally alter the climate such as Carbon Capture and Storage (filtering carbon out of point sources of carbon release or filtering greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere), Solar Radiation Management (cloud brightening practices and increasing the reflectivity of the sun), Afforestation (introducing trees to areas not previously forested), Ocean Fertilization (spraying key nutrients such as iron in the ocean to increase the growth of phytoplankton), Cloud Seeding (weather modification practices including controlling rain patterns) and other techno-optimistic climate solutions.
Creating a space for youth perspectives on geoengineering
The scale and unknown long-term consequences of these climate interventions has made geo-engineering a contested topic, for which it is essential to include those who will have to live with those consequences. Fortunately, there is still time for research and a public debate on geo-engineering, before it might have to be used as an “emergency break”, if current climate mitigation measures prove to be ineffective. The working group on Geo-engineering youth perspectives has been one of the first to specifically target youth priorities and consider the temporal scale of climate justice.
Over the course of four days in April and May 2021, youth from across Europe worked together online to explore geoengineering through four key elements, ‘science’, ‘ethics’, ‘politics’ and ‘society’.
The workshops were developed and facilitated by a team including:
- Youth Environment Europe
- University of York, UK
- King’s College London, UK
- University of Antwerp,
- Federal Centre for Technological Education of Rio de Janerio
More information about the workshops can be found here.
Over the course of the workshops youth participants co-wrote and produced a Youth Guide and Policy Brief on geoengineering. This resource was written by youth to inform their peers about geoengineering and to share youth views and perspectives with decision makers.
We would welcome your comments and responses to this guide.