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The term geo-engineering covers a range of activities designed either to withdraw greenhouse gases currently residing in the atmosphere or to deflect solar radiation from reaching the Earth’s surface. Some activities of this sort (e.g. planting trees to capture carbon dioxide) are already taking place; others are in the planning stage. There is no way to make a single, synoptic decision about the effectiveness, likely side effects, and ethical consequences of geo-engineering. What we can do is to establish mechanisms that allow us to make suitable decisions about specific proposals involving geo-engineering. There is much to be said for putting a geo-engineering governance system in place now, so that it will be available as and when the need to make decisions about initiatives involving geo-engineering arises.
Program on Governance for Sustainable Development: http://www.gsdprogram.org/
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This series is co-sponsored by the Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs at San Diego State University
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Oran Young is a renowned Arctic expert and a world leader in the fields of international governance and environmental institutions. His scientific work encompasses both basic research focusing on collective choice and social institutions, and applied research dealing with issues pertaining to international environmental governance and the Arctic as an international region. Professor Young served for six years as vice-president of the International Arctic Science Committee and was the founding chair of the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change within the National Academy of Sciences in the United States. He currently chairs the Scientific Committee of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change and the Steering Committee of the Arctic Governance Project. Among the more than 20 books he has authored are The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change and Governance in World Affairs. His forthcoming book is Institutional Dynamics: Emergent Patterns in International Environmental Governance.