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A touch of hubris or prime human innovation?

Jason Blackstock explains potentials and worries with solar geoengineering.

This was a Stockholm seminar which took place 4 April 2011. Read more about the Stockholm seminar series here.

Emerging solar geoengineering concepts and technologies aim to reduce the amount of solar radiation absorbed by our climate in order to ameliorate the impacts of climate change.

As research on this area expands, the political implications of these technological concepts are being increasingly felt. From private and public multimillion-dollar research funds, to international convention decisions, each action by the small number of scientific and policy entrepreneurs (proponents and opponents alike) engaged in the conversation is shaping how solar geoengineering technologies will evolve to influence our future.

In many cases, the important impacts are not technological, but political. Many actions are shaping how global publics' and policymakers' perceive solar geoengineering in relation to the array of other concerns dominant in their political frames. Examples include potential implications for volatile food prices, accessible energy resources, available development pathways, preservation of biodiversity, regional and international security, and more.

Because of vast uncertainty in the causal links between solar geoengineering and impacts on such issues, suggestions of specific impacts are at best speculative (and at worst, fallacious). Nonetheless, this has not stopped engaged policy entrepreneurs from “forum shopping" for national and international institutions that might 'govern' solar geoengineering research according to their views of the issues and concerns at hand.

Blackstock's talk provided an overview of the latest science and emerging research for prominent geoengineering proposals as well as exploring recent and potential future evolution of the global solar geoengineering discourse.

About Jason J. Blackstock
Jason J. Blackstock is the Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (Canada) and a Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria).

His research broadly explores the intersection of science and international affairs, with a focus on scientific and socio-political implications of climate change and geoengineering technologies. Jason's research and policy advising range from nanotechnology and quantum physics (MPhys, Edinburgh; PhD, Alberta) to international public policy and security (Harvard, MPA; Stanford, Graduate Certificate).

He is also an Adjunct Professor at  the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience and was recently elected an Associate Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Science.

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Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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