Exploring the Ethics of Geoengineering through Images

By Paula Curvelo.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Since the beginning of this century, the purpose and extent of intentional climate change proposals seem to have surpassed its original concepts and been appropriated by the various competing interests that inform the climate change debate. Indeed, many of the problems and uncertainties that geoengineering schemes evoke are feeding environmental controversies, while discourses become more and more politicized. In this context, the study of geoengineering narratives not only helps to unveil the ethical issues surrounding climate engineering experimentation, regulation and deployment, but also suggests an alternative way of looking at the climate change issue and the ‘scalar dislocations’ that it introduces into modern systems of experience and understanding [1].
Assuming that geoengineering is an illustrative metaphor of a particular kind of technoscientific promises and “technological fix” narratives that are emerging in our society, this paper seeks to analyse the value disputes hidden in geoengineering debates by adopting expanded notions of narrative, which account for the particular ways of rendering the world in both visual and verbal forms.
It is hoped that this paper will contribute to an understanding of the potential of visual narrative research, while also considering the ethical issues in scientific and technological developments. In particular, it tries to suggest possible ways of exploring the meaning-making practices of production (encoding) and interpretation (decoding) of geoengineering images in order to analyse the contributions that visual methodologies can provide to enable us to understand the nature and causes of scientific and technological developments, the benefits and the risks, the perils and the promises of recent advances in science and technology and, last but not the least, the limits of rational analytical methods when it comes to characterizing complex problems.

Keywords: Narrative Theory, Visual Research Analysis, Geoengineering, Imag[in]ing, Ethics

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.177-198. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 11.290MB).

Paula Curvelo

Joint Research Centre, European Commission – Joint Research Centre – IPSC, Ispra, Italy

Paula Curvelo, European Commission – Joint Research Centre – IPSC, Italy