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New “Climate Engineering” Research Project Begins

19 11 2009
Marsilius Kolleg: Renowned scientist from Canada to hold keynote speech at opening ceremony

A new interdisciplinary research project entitled “Climate Engineering” is about to get under way at Heidelberg University’s Marsilius Kolleg. The project focuses on strategies for systematically influencing our climate by means of utilizing our technological resources. The researchers involved represent the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. From their different perspectives, they will provide a critical analysis of this option in our response to the problems of climate change. The speech at the heart of the opening ceremony will be delivered by Prof. Dr. David Keith of the University of Calgary (Canada). The question he poses is: “Should We Engineer the Climate?” The public event celebrating the beginning of the project takes place in the Great Hall of the Old University (Grabengasse 1) at 4 p.m. on Friday, 27 November 2009.

David Keith, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE) at the University of Calgary, is one of the most renowned scientists working in the field of climate engineering. An environmental physicist, he is particularly interested in the potentials and risks of different technologies. Professor Keith’s research also includes the political, economic and legal aspects of the climate engineering. Advocating a robust public discourse on the subject, he urges that, “We should move this out of the shadows and talk about it seriously. Sooner or later we’ll be confronted with decisions, and it’s better to think hard about it, even if we think hard about reasons why we should never do it.”

In the framework of the new research project, scholars and scientists from different disciplines will investigate whether and how active technological intervention, pursued alongside a reduction of carbon emissions, might be a viable way of dealing with menacing climatic processes changes. More specifically, the project will analyse how humanity might come to terms with the reality of – and possibly the necessity of – such options, as well as how to address the opportunities, risks and problems associated with those options. The Marsilius Kolleg has provided the research group with a grant of approximately €600,000 for the next three years.

The Marsilius Kolleg sees itself as is? a catalyst of scholarly interaction at Heidelberg University. This centre of advanced study is a pivotal element of the university’s institutional strategy, launched in accordance with the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments. This strategy focuses on bringing together handpicked researchers from different academic cultures, thereby promoting a research-based dialogue between the humanities, the social sciences, legal studies and the natural and life sciences.

For more information on the project and the programme of the ceremony on 27 November, go to to


Tobias Just
Marsilius Kolleg
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