Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pie in the sky? Geoengeering not a fix for our problems

Mount Pinatubo produced enough sulphur to combat a double CO2 scenario, but also declines in global rainfall.

One of the things that has been keeping me from blogging of late has been a journal article on a theology of geoengineering.

I make no secret of not being a fan. Geoengineering is planetary scale intervention in the Earth system to combat climate change. It is plan B after we have failed to take proper action. A number of the technologies have nasty side effects. None of them will work alone. The effort would be better placed into a massive switch to greater efficiency, renewable energy and restructuring our cities (which will have to move anyway thanks for committed to levels of sea level rise.

But I also think there are theological issues which address the problems that geoengineering seeks to solve as well. We've lived for too long in the bubble of our own power. Inherited from Francis Bacon, technology and science are seen as a source of power to endlessly manipulate an inert environment. This view should be collapsing in the Anthropocene, but ecomodernism pushes geoengineering. Two theological frameworks can be constructed.

1. Based on Genesis, particularly chapter 1, creation can be envisaged as a temple, sacred to God. This means humans have a priestly role of service. This is not exclusive of use, but challenges mechanistic views alone of human mastery over inert matter. The Earth is not simply a resources or a laboratory. Add to this Aboriginal theology that sees the Creator Spirit as present in the land.

2. Based on 1 Kings 16-18, technology like geoengineering can be viewed as a form of Baalism - seeking from the cause of the problem also the solution.

To read more, see the draft on


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