The mismatch between the academic and popular conception of geoengineering can muddle the conversation on whether/how we should be pursuing geoengineering solutions to climate change. If academics and non-academics think geoengineering is two different things, productive conversation about appropriate policy and regulatory pathways for the various climate solutions that potentially fall under the geoengineering umbrella is unlikely to emerge.
Rather than initially categorizing strategies by their physical mechanism and then ask what they can do for us and how risky they are, we should instead start with the normative considerations as the foundation for our initial categorization.
There is a deeper set of conceptual arguments for splitting CDR and SRM that is entirely absent from Duncan McLaren’s argument.
There are a number of reasons – even with a 1.5oC target – why I suggest we should not rush too quickly to disentangle CDR from the broader idea of geoengineering.
Is staying below a 2C rise in temperature is a realistic or fantastic target? There’s been talk about this lately, in Nature and on this forum. Beneath this question lies another question: Is there hope?
My comment is meant to express a concern about how “climate engineering” is typically presented, initially at least, as set apart from other kinds of responses to climate change and even as raising “new” or “distinctive” ethical problems. I realise that this situation is changing somewhat, so to try to help it on its way, here is why I personally endorse a move away from talking about “climate engineering” in favour of talking about the many separate technologies that are currently herded together under that label. I realise this makes things rather messy, but I also think that messiness is a perennial feature of climate change politics.