"Geoengineering the Climate with a Human-made Volcano"
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Jack Hensley, PhD Candidate in Environmental Science and Engineering (SEAS), Harvard University.
Co-sponsored by the Graduate School or Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
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Sheila Jasanoff, Faculty Associate. Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School.
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Observing the severity of the climate crisis, some scientists believe that intentional manipulation of the climate system (i.e., solar geoengineering) will be required to counteract warming from human activities. One widely discussed method is stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), which places reflective particles in the stratosphere to cool the Earth’s surface, mimicking the historical cooling effects of volcanic eruptions on climate. In this talk, I examine the representation of SAI as a “human-made volcano” and interrogate the alleged “fact” of volcano-induced cooling that supports it. Since the 1990s, scientists have drawn analogies between SAI and volcanic eruptions, framing SAI as both a natural and well-understood mechanism, even though they know that SAI is not intended to replicate vulcanism. The volcano analogy continues to legitimate SAI research and funding, especially in the United States. However, recent controversies over field experiments, such as one proposed in Sweden, have exposed the limitations of SAI’s claim to be natural.