No to Geo-Engineering: UN Issues a Moratorium on Efforts to Manipulate the Earth's Climate
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At the same time, the Congressional report recommends that “broad consideration of comprehensive and multi-disciplinary climate engineering research at the federal level begin as soon as possible in order to ensure scientific preparedness for future climate events,” and that “other topics such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and strategic raw materials may be of international significance, and that these topics may be appropriate for bilateral or multilateral collaboration in the future.”
Such technologies carry enormous ethical and environmental risks; large-scale disasters from Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island to the BP oil disaster and the climate crisis itself are rooted in industrial overreach and a systemic failure to take a precautionary approach to technology. Given the checkered history of technology, especially at such a scale, ETC Group recommends in their Geopiracy report that the preferred strategy is not a case-by-case attack on emerging technologies, but, ultimately, an International Convention for the Evaluation of New Technologies.
Such a Convention would involve the multilateral application of the precautionary principle with full participation of developing countries and respect for international environmental and human rights law. In ETC Group’s conception, it would also ensure the preservation and diffusion of useful, conventional, or culturally distinct technologies.
The goal is not to undermine research and investment in technology as such, but to make such research safer by bringing it under international protocols and democratic governance. As ETC Group’s Diana Bronson put it, “In a nutshell, many countries are quite unwilling to give a blank check to high-emissions countries to come up with another high-risk techno-fix.”
Jeff Conant wrote this article for YES! Magazine , a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Jeff is an independent journalist and author of A Community Guide to Environmental Health and A Poetics of Resistance: The Revolutionary Public Relations of the Zapatista Insurgency .