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Engineering the climate?

Press Release No. 1/2009
3 08 2009
New interdisciplinary research project at Marsilius Kolleg
Strategies to influence the climate by technological means are the focus of a new research project at Heidelberg University’s Marsilius Kolleg. Scientists from different disciplines are investigating ways of controlling climate processes - not just through reducing carbon emissions but also through climate engineering, i.e. active intervention. They have adopted a multi-disciplinary approach - scientific, sociological and legal. The Marsilius Kolleg has provided the research group with a grant of approximately € 600,000 for a period of three years.

Technologies such as fertilizing the ocean or placing screens between the sun and the earth do not just incur different costs. They may also have unintended repercussions, which would have very diverse impacts at the global and regional levels. “We are interested in how humanity can handle such options for action and what opportunities, risks and problems they entail,” states Prof. Timo Goeschl, PhD, one of the project coordinators.

A sub-project headed by environmental physicists Werner Aeschbach-Hertig, Thomas Leisner and Ulrich Platt thus aims at devising and comparing realistic scenarios for different technologies. Psychologist Joachim Funke, philosopher Martin Gessmann and economist Timo Goeschl are studying the acceptance of different technologies and the readiness of the population to invest in them. Public discourse, political strategies and legal instruments are being examined by Hans Gebhardt (human geography), Sebastian Harnisch (political science), and Rüdiger Wolfrum (law).

“The Global Governance of Climate Engineering” is the third project of the Marsilius Kolleg. The two other projects have been on “Concepts of Personhood and Human Dignity” and “Perspectives of Aging in the Process of Social and Cultural Change”. The Marsilius Kolleg sees itself as a catalyst of scholarly interaction at Heidelberg University. This centre of advanced study is a pivotal element of the university’s institutional strategy, launched by the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments. It focuses on bringing together hand-picked researchers from different academic cultures and thereby promoting a research-based dialogue between the humanities, the social sciences and areas of legal studies, on the one hand, and the natural and life sciences, on the other. The project on climate engineering was developed in discussion between the fellows of the Marsilius Kolleg.
For further information see

Prof. Timo Goeschl, PhD
Alfred-Weber-Institut für Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Tel. 06221 54 8010, Fax 54 8020

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