Forum article, Issues in Science and Technology
David Keith provides a useful provocation for thinking about the intersections of science and society in the context of solar geoengineering research. What does responsibility mean, and for whom? Keith’s notion of responsibility seems to entail more “transparent” research on solar geoengineering to enable responsible decision making. To this end, he lays out some key issues (though certainly not all) raised by the prospect of solar geoengineering research, and he suggests that they are amenable to resolution through the provision of more science. However, a different account of the relationship between science and politics opens up a set of questions that he doesn’t address. The question of the “responsibility” of a decision—or a research program—is not just a matter of scientific facts, but of values, interests, and context. This raises important questions about the relationship between science and policy, the potential distributional implications of innovation, the role of ignorance and uncertainty, and the importance of public engagement.