The ‘Humpty Dumpty’ Problem: Climate ‘Repair’ in the Anthropocene

Global anthropogenic climate change is one of the key markers of the so-called Anthropocene or ‘Age of Humans’. Human impact on the climate signals our emergence as a global geological force. Yet the discourses of the Anthropocene can also imply that humanity can intentionally take control of earth systems. In this respect geoengineering or climate engineering – deliberate large scale interventions in earth systems, designed to reduce the scale, rate or impacts of climate change - is arguably the signature technology of the Anthropocene. Advocates of climate engineering often portray it as a means to restore or repair the climate system. This seminar will explore (and critique) the potential to develop an ‘ethics of repair’ in climate politics, considering five alternative conceptions and applications of repair: as remediation or reconstruction; as healing; as restoration; as reconfiguration and as reconciliation.    

Duncan McLaren is a doctoral candidate at Lancaster University and former director of Friends of Earth Scotland.