Geoengineering and the Question of Weakened Resolve

19 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018

Date Written: February 13, 2018


This Chapter offers several arguments regarding geoengineering’s relationship to mitigation and adaptation. First, compared to the terms moral hazard or risk compensation, weakened resolve better captures the concern regarding the possible adverse effect of geoengineering on mitigation and adaptation. Second, the inquiry into weakened resolve needs to be framed around who actually will determine mitigation and adaptation policy. Third, the current literature on weakened resolve would benefit from a broader geographical scope (to include major emitters such as China), the attitudes of elites as opposed to the general population, and the interaction between cultural and political polarization and weakened resolve. Fourth, because there is almost certainly some potential for weakened resolve even if we cannot ex ante establish how much, efforts should be made to mitigate any weakened resolve effect by framing geoengineering as a temporary, limited, risky response to climate change. Successfully maintaining that framing in public discourse may best be served by high-quality, peer-reviewed research regarding geoengineering technologies, with clear attention to their limits and risks. Restrictions on research at mainstream scientific venues itself may poses the risk that there will be a dearth of high-quality science to rebut efforts to rebut a framing of geoengineering as an easy, quick, low-risk solution to the problem of climate change.

Keywords: Climate Change, Geoengineering, Moral Hazard, Law and Psychology, Environmental Policy

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Dana, David A., Geoengineering and the Question of Weakened Resolve (February 13, 2018). Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 18-04, Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 18-04, Available at SSRN: or

David A. Dana (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-0240 (Phone)
312-503-2035 (Fax)

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