Does Geoengineering Present a Moral Hazard?
40 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2012 Last revised: 17 Jul 2014
Date Written: August 23, 2012
Geoengineering, a set of unconventional, untested, and risky proposals for responding to climate change, has attracted growing attention in the wake of our collective failure so far to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Geoengineering research and deployment remain highly controversial, however, not only because of the risks involved, but also because of concern that geoengineering might undermine climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. The latter concern, often described as a moral hazard, has been questioned by some but not carefully explored. This article examines the critical question of whether geoengineering presents a moral hazard by drawing on empirical studies of moral hazard and risk compensation and on the psychology literature of heuristics and cultural cognition. The article finds it likely that geoengineering efforts will undermine mainstream strategies to combat climate change and suggests potential measures for ameliorating this moral hazard.
Keywords: geoengineering, climate change, moral hazard, risk compensation
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