10 Years of Geoengineering Research: Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Earth‘s Future

By Miranda Boettcher and Stefan Schäfer

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2016 marks the tenth anniversary of Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen’s seminal 2006 contribution on geoengineering, “Albedo enhancement by stratospheric sulfur injections: A contribution to resolve a policy dilemma?”. In his essay, noting that attempts at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming had been “grossly unsuccessful”, Crutzen suggested that actively injecting sulfur particles into the stratosphere could effectively reflect incoming sunlight and thereby ameliorate some of the effects of global warming. Crutzen’s paper in the journal Climatic Change sparked an unprecedented surge of academic, public, and political interest in geoengineering (also known as climate engineering).

Over the last decade, geoengineering has developed from a fringe topic into a broad interdisciplinary field of research in its own right. Numerous national and multinational geoengineering projects have been established, including the German Research Foundation (DFG) Priority Programme on Climate Engineering, the EU-funded European Transdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering (EuTRACE), the Oxford-based Climate Geoengineering Governance Project (CGG), and the international Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP). A plethora of young researchers are now pursuing their graduate studies within the field. Governmental agencies including the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS 2015a, b), the US Government Accountability Office (GAO 2011), the German Federal Environmental Agency (Bodle et al. 2014) and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Rickels et al. 2011), the Office of Technology Assessment of the German Bundestag (Caviezel and Revermann 2014), and the European Commission (Schäfer et al. 2015) have commissioned reports on the implications of geoengineering.

The recent Paris Agreement has led to increased discussion of how the legally binding 2 °C target, and, in particular, the ambitious 1.5 °C target can be achieved, including the possibility that this may require the implementation of some geoengineering measures (in particular the large-scale removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere). The US Senate is considering a bill calling for federal funding for geoengineering research, and the Chairman of the IPCC was recently quoted calling for the panel to investigate both the technical and governance aspects of geoengineering. At the same time, the field of geoengineering is becoming increasingly heterogeneous as research on individual technologies becomes more specialised, leading to debate on the continued consideration of it as a unified “field” at all. The topic of geoengineering is coming of age, and it is time to take stock and to reflect on possible future developments.

To mark the tenth anniversary of Paul Crutzen’s contribution, we at the IASS are currently preparing a special issue of the AGU’s journal Earth’s Future. We would like to invite experts in the field to contribute brief reflections (2 to 5 pages – approx. 2 000 words) on the development of the discussion over the past decade, and to consider where it may be going in the next ten years. We are hoping to encourage the submission of commentaries from a wide range of authors from within and outside of academia, to reflect the fact that discussions on geoengineering are characterised by a high degree of academic and extra-academic diversity.

With this in mind, we would like to invite those interested in contributing to go beyond submitting general reflections on the development of the field by focusing on a particular topical, disciplinary, community (scientific, civic, political, media, etc.), country or regional perspective. Interesting questions that authors could address include:

  • How have certain areas of disciplinary research into geoengineering progressed since 2006? What new insights have been achieved in the fields of atmospheric chemistry, legal studies, international relations or ethics, for example?
  • How have individual topics been addressed? What insights have been gleaned from a range of different disciplines on specific topics such as the potential implications of geoengineering for international conflict and cooperation dynamics?
  • How have particular communities engaged with geoengineering over the last ten years? What dynamics have characterised the engagements of scientists, journalists, environmental activists, or policymakers?
  • How have discussions on geoengineering developed in particular countries or regions during the last ten years?

We believe this special issue will provide a timely opportunity to not only take stock of the development and diversification of the field over the last decade, but also to discuss and debate the future of geoengineering research. This special issue will focus on reflecting on the development of geoengineering research over the past decade, but we would also like to ask authors to include a brief outlook on their expectations for future developments over the next 10 years. We look forward to welcoming a wide range of interesting contributions!

The call for papers can be accessed under: http://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/agu/journal/10.1002/%28ISSN%292328-4277/features/call-for-papers.html

Submissions can be made until 31 August, 2016 through the Earth’s Future GEMS submission site. For additional information please contact earthsfuture@agu.org.

Questions on the special issue should be directed to: miranda.boettcher@iass-potsdam.de or stefan.schaefer@iass-potsdam.de

Header image: istock/aydinynr

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