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Ben Wilhelm

May 12, 2014


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Raphe, Thanks for your proposal, we were all pleased to see you embrace the contest question. We liked a lot of what we saw and have a few suggestions to push it even further. What struck me most was the form of your proposal. Our topic is intentionally a bit open-ended, but we put it together with the intent that people will think through the issues you took on a put together the types of guiding documents that could be used by policy-makers or other actors to set geoengineering policy. This isn't the most intuitive part of the contest, but it is important. We saw promise in the work you've done and would like to see you refine your ideas further by organizing your points into a set of of rules and suggestions that a geoengineering researcher could follow. You could assume any sort of role you might like, a lawmaker, government regulator, a public advocacy group or anyone else you imagine might have a role. Personally, I saw in your proposal things that might be said by a University department chair or research director setting rules for the members of their faculty. This isn't necessarily an intuitive task, especially if its new to you, but I've found that it can be a powerful exercise for clarifying my thinking and creating coherent policy and I think all of us working on the project would love to see what you do with your thoughts in that format. Thanks, Ben

John Virgoe

May 18, 2014


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Hi Rafe I enjoyed reading your proposal. There are some really interesting ideas here. I like the idea of a structured process for assessing geoengineering proposals, and also your point about focussing the initial research agenda on things (like better ecosystem modelling) which will be required for a serious research programme. I think there is some scope to refine the presentation of the proposal. It would be good to think which are the key (and new) aspects of your proposal, and highlight those. You might then give less prominence to secondary or more familiar suggestions. You make some bold assertions (e.g. that irresponsible geoengineering should be criminalised, or that we may wish to chose a different climate). Are these points central to your argument? If so, you might want to expand on them. If not, I wonder if including them raises more questions than it answers? Finally, I'd encourage you to give some thought to how your proposal might be implemented. Geoengineering governance needs to take place in the world of practical politics (domestic and international). So who would you need to convince in order to implement your proposal? And how would you do that? Who might object, and on what grounds? How would you overcome their objections? Who would carry out the assessment of geoengineering proposals you suggest? Where would they gain their legitimacy, and how would their decisions be enforced? Really looking forward to seeing how you develop your argument! best wishes John

Climate Colab

Aug 6, 2014


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Judges: Basic idea of a structured approach to screening and categorising geoengineering techniques is a sensible one. Would be more compelling if the author indicated how these first steps might then be developed into an approach to research/deployment/governance. The author could also elaborate how he/she sees this approach being implemented "all over the world" and explore the practicalities of e.g. statements like "irresponsible geoengineering should be criminalised". I'd also like to see thought given to how decisions would be made around categorisation. Who would do this? What would give them the authority and legitimacy to do it? saying "fix goals first" ignores all the chicken-and-egg problems with controlling new technologies uncertain in potential benefits and risks ... No basis to know in advance what goals are feasible or desirable.Saying "do modeling, lab studies, and other zero-risk research first" is obvious and widely accepted. All the hard questions lie in the domain of how to regulate (outdoor) field research, particularly if it involves active (even tiny) environmental perturbations."Criminalize irresponsible geoengineering" -- presumes you know what counts as "irresponsible" -- and that legitimate authority exists to deem it criminal and assign consequences. Neither is the case. (And the proposal makes a big leap from guidelines adopted by research and funding institutions -- a reasonable first place to control CE -- to criminalization.) Anita and Ben: We appreciate that you put some thought into the governance aspects of geoengineering, but there isn't enough of a particularized or novel plan here for the judges to advance it forward.