Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A great critical perspective on geoengineering from Dr. Tina Sikka

Updated May 5, 2016 (Structure)

A Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University.

“Her current research program includes the study of geoengineering, or climate-engineering, technologies using a critical approach to technology studies coupled with critical discourse analysis”

Geoengineering in a World Risk Society
(Full paper in academia.edu (scroll down a few pages)


By Tina Sikka.
Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

In the following paper, I draw on Ulrich Beck’s model of the world risk society to examine, unpack and critique geoengineering technologies. Briefly, geoengineering can be defined as large-scale technological interventions into the environment in an attempt to mitigate or even reverse climate change. They include such proposals as painting the surfaces of buildings white to reflect the sun’s rays, placing mirrors in space for similar ends or the more interventionist seeding of oceans with iron in order to encourage the growth of carbon absorbing algae blooms. What is startling about geoengineering is that despite its seeming outlandishness, it has recently been seriously considered by a number of governments, corporations, research institutes and professional scientific bodies.

In an attempt to better understand and appreciate the possible normative, political, economic and environmental consequences of such large-scale technological interventions, I have found Beck’s thesis of reflexive modernity and the world risk society to be particularly useful and illuminating. Essentially, Beck’s thesis is that we live in a world that distinguished from the past by the extent to which it is constituted by global technological risks that[:] one, tears down traditional boundaries between people and their environments (de-localization); two, resists anticipation by conventional scientific and/or rational means; three, denies compensation or insurability against danger; and four, re-orients social attention to the constant anticipation of catastrophe. These risks, as Beck argues, “represents a shock for the whole of humanity” who never could have anticipated “the self-destructiveness–not only physically but also ethical–of unleashed modernity” (Beck, 2006, p. 330).

In applying these insights to geoengineering, it becomes clear that these technologies are, by definition, risk technologies. I argue that it is their inherently global, unpredictable, uninsurable and potentially catastrophic character, which can be both inimitable, frightening, which renders them in need of further study. As such, in undertaking an examination of these questions, I have chosen to divide this article into the following sections: I begin with a brief introduction to geoengineering technologies and discuss not only what they are and what they are supposed to do. Following this, I delve into a more considered discussion of how geoengineering technologies are in fact risk technologies as Beck defines them. I begin with an overview of reflexive modernization, followed by discussions Beck’s concepts of risk, insurability and responsibility, and subpolitics, which I use to examine geoengineering in turn.

I think this paper could help widen the conversation.  I sent the paper's info to Oxford’s ‘GeoLibrary’ on January 22, 2014 hoping they would add it to their resources.

And seeing that this paper has had some impact on my twitter accout, and that it has not been discussed in the geoengineering google group, and even thougth Dr. Sikka's work seems not to be popular there, I decided to join the group and post it for discussion.

More open acces writings on geoengineering and more, by Dr. Sikka can be found on her academia.edu account  https://sfu.academia.edu/TSikka

I will be looking forward for more-recent work from her, specially after the Ocean Fertilization 'experiment' off Haida Gwaii.

*I think my first posting attempt to the geoengineering google group on Jan, 27 did not go trough, so I will post again today Jan, 28/2014, here is what today's post would say:

Hello all,

A short intro about me. My name is Oscar Escobar, I blog about geoengineering (climate engineering) here:

A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues Blog - Geoingeniería
Geoengineering - Climate Engineering from a layman's critical perspective.

Previously I described myself as 'opposed' to geoengineering. This continues to be largely accurate in the case of SRM and OIF deployment.  But I do think that more public knowledge is important for all concerned.

Twitt here: @oscare2000 https://twitter.com/oscare2000
paperli http://paper.li/oscare2000/1347466963

This article by Tina Sikka stroke a chord with me, I am posting it here hoping it helps in broadening the conversation,

best regards,

Oscar Escobar

Creative Commons License
A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog - Geoingeniería by Oscar and Jocelyn Escobar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Licencia Creative Commons
A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog por Oscar y Jocelyn Escobar se distribuye bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional.