Robinson: Throwing dust into the atmosphere would be, I think, an emergency gesture on a temporary basis, in effect imitating a volcanic eruption and hoping that five years of slightly lower temperatures would save us from brutal heat waves. And if one nation suffers a catastrophic heat death event and then decides to go that route, no other nation will have the legal or moral capacity to oppose it. It is also not clear that this would be bad for civilization or the biosphere. Arguments about moral hazard become moot in such an emergency, and concerns about side effects are speculative and unsupported by what actually happened after actual volcanic explosions.
Klein: Rhiana, geoengineering hasn’t always been part of the Green New Deal. Should it be?
Gunn-Wright: Not in my opinion. And I say this based on the opinions of frontline activists. I don’t live near places where geoengineering would be happening. But the people who do are very afraid of the ecological consequences. Given our general orientation towards a desire for a quick fix that doesn’t require much change in the distribution of power, I’m afraid a lot of money is going there and not to other things that we know how to help but are more difficult to do. So, no, I don’t think that’s good for the Green New Deal.
Jasanoff: I wanted to raise the question of responsibility, which did not arise. I think people all over the world see very clearly that we are not also responsible for the emissions. The word “Anthropocene” imagines that there is only one anthropos and that the ages of humanity are measured by its collective actions. And I think that the experience that people have is not that of a singular humanity but of a very layered and unequal humanity. So, will people mobilize on a scale sufficient to make the tough choices? For some people, this is not a difficult choice. They are already living at a subsistence level. So what are you going to tell them to do?
In a way, these geoengineering ideas are the solutions of the oversaturated mind. Having conceptualized the planet as one, having conceptualized humanity as a unitary anthropos, having conceptualized climate change as a global phenomenon, all it can think of now is a global technological solution.
Klein: But for many people, it’s a tough choice, including those who have been eagerly awaiting choices they may not have now. And so let me end on this question: does the future really have to be one less? Or can climate change be solved in a context of abundance?
Griffith: I am optimistic that materially all of our lives can improve. It does not mean that we have a greater volume of things in our life. We will have more things that last longer and a lot less disposable things. But that doesn’t mean you have an empty house and a boring life. It probably means that you have some beautiful items that you have a much better relationship with. We have concepts like Polynesian mana, in which the value of the object comes from its age and history, not from its brilliance and novelty. I am optimistic that we can move billions of people up the quality of life ladder, but we are not doing it with our existing notions of ownership, ownership, debt and land use. .
Gunn-Wright: I never found a way, especially as a black woman, to tell people who have been oppressed and have seen, you know, different things presented as luxuries or standards that will happen to them eventually, that it is not isn’t the life version they should or can be looking for. That they endured all kinds of hardships not to get what they thought was their reward. I think it’s incredibly difficult. And I don’t know how we convey this message or even, as a person, we take it.