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WIREs Clim Change
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History of climate engineering

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Abstract The modern concept of geoengineering as a response to anthropogenic climate change evolved from much earlier proposals to modify the climate. The well‐documented history of weather modification provides a much‐needed historical perspective on geoengineering in the face of current climate anxiety and the need for responsive action. Drawing on material from the mid‐20th century until today, this paper asserts the importance of looking at geoengineering holistically—of integrating social considerations with technical promise, and scientific study with human and moral dimensions. While the debate is often couched in scientific terms, the consequences of geoengineering the climate stretch far beyond the world of science into the realms of ethics, legality, and society. Studying the history of geoengineering can help produce fresh insights about what has happened and about what may happen, and can help frame important decisions that will soon be made as to whether geoengineering is a feasible alternative to mitigation, a possible partner, or a dangerous experiment with our fragile planet. WIREs Clim Change 2010 1 891–897 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.82 This article is categorized under: Climate, History, Society, Culture > Technological Aspects and Ideas

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