Arizona State University

To examine alternative governance approaches and institutions associated with geoengineering research, focusing on solar radiation management field experiments, using participatory deliberation methodologies

  • Amount $299,574
  • City Tempe, AZ
  • Investigator Daniel Sarewitz
  • Year 2017
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Energy and Environment

There is a growing debate in the energy and environment community about the role to be played by geoengineering as a response to climate change. Solar radiation management (SRM) technologies, which involve injecting aerosol particles into the atmosphere to cool the Earth by reflecting sunlight, are increasingly central to these discussions. SRM technologies may be developed quickly, have the potential to be relatively inexpensive, and could be easily scaled. However, SRM research and its associated deployment raises many underexplored concerns related to moral hazard, technological uncertainty, unintended externalities, and potential irreversibility. In particular, little is known about the public’s understanding of SRM technologies, their potential concerns, and what procedural and governance safeguards might be put in place to allay them. A multidisciplinary team of scholars at Arizona State University (ASU) proposes to conduct a series of public dialogues with the aim to better understand public views on the development, and deployment of SRM technologies. First, the ASU team will conduct an initial framing and design workshop with subject matter experts to develop rubrics for discussing SRM technologies with the public. Next, they will hold two forums, one in Arizona and the other in Boston, each involving over a hundred members of the lay public. Trained social scientists will lead structured focus groups that will inform participants about SRM technologies and solicit their views and perspectives. Multiple forms of qualitative and quantitative data will be collected throughout the process, including pre- and post- event surveys and interviews. A final expert workshop will then integrate and assess collected data and present findings to policymakers and the research community.

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