Taking The Shine Off

Ryan Avent lays out why geo-engineering looks attractive:

Geoengineering seems like the easy approach [to climate change] now, because it’s not on the table. There is no hysterical battle between proponents and opponents, no op-ed bickering between scientists and faux scientists, no global debate on who would and should bear which costs associated with whatever solution is agreed upon. But as soon as it became a real possibility, a fierce debate would rage.

And, if one major geoengineering solution were tried and it failed, it is difficult to see how another attempt could win support, and at that point, of course, we’d have lost the ability to address climate change by reducing emissions when it would have helped.

I think it would be irresponsible not to continue studying the issue and looking for potential geoeingineering fixes, but I think that anyone suggesting that we should abandon the effort to cut emissions in favor of a geoengineering approach has not thought the matter through. It should be considered the last ditch effort, only pursued seriously when it is clear that emission cuts will not prevent catastrophic warming.

Tyler Cowen is also wary.