Experiment Earth: Responsible innovation in geoengineering, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Experiment Earth

Responsible innovation in geoengineering, 1st Edition

By Jack Stilgoe


240 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Experiments in geoengineering – intentionally manipulating the Earth’s climate to reduce global warming – have become the focus of a vital debate about responsible science and innovation. Drawing on three years of sociological research working with scientists on one of the world’s first major geoengineering projects, this book examines the politics of experimentation. Geoengineering provides a test case for rethinking the responsibilities of scientists and asking how science can take better care of the futures that it helps bring about.

This book gives students, researchers and the general reader interested in the place of science in contemporary society a compelling framework for future thinking and discussion.


"How should society react when the technological imagination seizes on the Earth itself as an experimental system? In this graceful critique of magical thinking, Stilgoe dissects the moves by which some came to see geoengineering as a project that not only can be done but must be done. An essential addition to the renewed debate on climate change, the book invites citizens and policy makers to think again about expert claims of inevitability, and to retake the future as a space for ethical and democratic imagining."–Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard Kennedy School, USA

"Experiment Earth is a book that is urgently needed. As human development becomes ever-more interwoven with the evolution of climate, Stilgoe asks a profound question: ‘What does it mean to take responsibility for global climate?’ His answer is more than about climate and science, and more than about geoengineering technologies. It is about how we see ourselves as responsible human beings, exercising power, creativity and judgement in the world, whilst remaining accountable to each other."–Mike Hulme, King’s College London, UK

"To geoengineer or not to geoengineer the climate will be one of the defining science and environment policy questions of the next fifty years. In 'Experiment Earth', Jack Stilgoe provides an indispensable guide to the theories, politics and personalities which have shaped this emerging debate. With his unique perspective on the controversial SPICE project and the internal machinations of the Royal Society, Stilgoe digs beneath more superficial media coverage, to understand geoengineering as an experimental site for new approaches to the governance of technology and innovation. Entertaining, informative and insightful, this book should be read by all those who care about the future of science, democracy and the environment."–James Wilsdon, University of Sussex, UK

"Climate Engineering is a challenging subject to approach. One must be walk the line between normalisation of what, to many, appears unthinkable and a manifesto for despair and inaction opposite the very real threat of climate change. This book struggles admirably with this tension: what it is like to work on an idea you hope never happens, and how could you ever control it? Stilgoe has been afforded access to the scientists working in this difficult arena, building trust and detailing our, and his, struggle to come to terms with the enormity of the problem. If you want to be inspired to wrestle with the intellectual challenges of how one might govern climate engineering technologies there may never be a better and more timely read than this." –Matt Watson, University of Bristol, UK

"This book offers much food for thought and discussion.Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels." - CHOICE, C. W. Dimmick, emeritus, Central Connecticut State University, USA

"Stilgoe brings his own, important, values to the discussion, in particular his faith in participatory governance and belief in its intrinsic worth." - Robert J Lempert, RAND Pardee Center for Longer-Range Global Policy

and the Future Human Condition, USA

Table of Contents

1. Balloon Debate 2. Taking Care of the Future 3. Rethinking the Unthinkable 4. Behind the Scenes at the Royal Society 5. Open-Air Experimentation 6. Making Models 7. The Reluctant Geoengineers 7. Reclaiming the Experiment

About the Author

Jack Stilgoe is a lecturer in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London, UK.

About the Series

The Earthscan Science in Society Series

The Earthscan Science in Society Series aims to publish new high quality research, teaching, practical and policy- related books on topics that address the complex and vitally important interface between science and society.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy