Headline: Asilomar moments: formative framings in recombinant DNA and solar climate engineering research

We examine the claim that in governance for solar climate engineering research, and especially field tests, there is no need for external governance beyond existing mechanisms such as peer review and environmental impact assessments that aim to assess technically defined risks to the physical environment. By drawing on the historical debate on recombinant DNA research, we show that defining risks is not a technical question but a complex process of narrative formation. Governance emerges from within, and as a response to, narratives of what is at stake in a debate. In applying this finding to the case of climate engineering, we find that the emerging narrative differs starkly from the narrative that gave meaning to rDNA technology during its formative period, with important implications for governance. While the narrative of rDNA technology was closed down to narrowly focus on technical risks, that of climate engineering continues to open up and includes social, political and ethical issues. This suggests that, in order to be legitimate, governance must take into account this broad perception of what constitutes the relevant issues and risks of climate engineering, requiring governance that goes beyond existing mechanisms that focus on technical risks. Even small-scale field tests with negligible impacts on the physical environment warrant additional governance as they raise broader concerns that go beyond the immediate impacts of individual experiments.

Wissenschaftliche Aufsätze

Schäfer, S., & Low, S. (2014). Asilomar moments: formative framings in recombinant DNA and solar climate engineering research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 372(2031): 20140064. doi:10.1098/rsta.2014.0064.

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