The planet remade


Morton, O. (2017). The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World (Reprint ed.). Princeton University Press.


  • Climate change needs to be dealt with
  • Geoengineering is an option, that many do not want to consider because it contradicts their views of what is natural or acceptable / ideology
  • But we are already engineering out environment ...
  • Geoengineering could be used for different purposes: it is not a control mechanism but could help buy time or ease the pain
  • We need to experiment to understand how it could work and open up an non-polarizing issue: the limits / what works well / where are the impacts / how the system reacts
  • In any case it is hard to imagine a world where no one will try it (it's cheap and easy) ... so we might as well discuss, setup a proper governance (what do we want to test? what would the be goal of engineering...?) as a world community than to wait and let a rogue state or person do it on it's own



Position on the climate debate.

The fact that is it real and man made and risky is not debatable anymore

  • Do the risks posed by climate change merit serious action? Yes
  • Do you think reducing emissions to zero in our economy is very hard? Yes: we are failing / heavily. It will not happen

โ‡’ Then you must consider geoengineering as an option



Storytelling about the stratosphere (U2 planes, history) and ozone layer

Imagine: a plane creating a veil high up in the stratosphere


Energy input and output: basics of weather and climate

p67. Trenbert Diagram

Use this diagram

History of our impact on the climate. Climate is never in balance.

Geoengineering transands traditional poles on the climate "debate": environmentalists between them / deniers also don't agree for different reasons

3 Pinatubo

What happens when a punctual change is created on the climate?

Basically: inject sulfur High up in the atmosphere

p93. A test for climate models

Learning: it does have a cooling effect + there are other impacts, globally

1815 - Tambora explosion = Famin in Ireland

Relatable story


p114. It is not an antidote to climate change, it is an additional one on top. We cannot keep the planet "as it is" even if we can stablize the avg T

GeoMIP's models of engineered planets vs. today

  • Not the same T
  • Drier
  • There will be winners and loosers p120

There is a lot of uncertainty: Models are incomplete! Analysis is hard. Studies contradict themselves

Issue: will we need to perform veiling for ever?

It's easy to create a catastrophe

Conclusion to one of the first episodes: The is no climate engineering, there are "climateengineerings". Even with 1 technology, using different chemicals, in different parts of the athmosphere, for a different period of time, over a different region ... will produce vastly different results.

What this tells us: yes it's confusing / yes it's risky / yes we need to understand more ... but it also means there is a potential to mitigate the risks of climate change. We should not pass that chance because of the other problems.


Even if there was no uncertainty: would it be a good idea?

We've modified heavily our environment to be able to survive: cut down forest for food / drained swamps etc.

Thinking has evolved: history. Focus on rain and survival and food.

Nature does not exist anymore in any case. BTW "nature" is not good or nice: naked below 10ยฐC ... and you die (was this in the beginning of infinity?)

1950s: environmental warfare / seen as a possible weapon

CO2 than became the key target, because:

p142: moral objections from political environmentalists: growth is not linked to happiness. A real change is needed / not a fix

Easy enough / seemed like a good place to tackle the problem

simple to explain / to negotiate : a reduction / "we need to reduce"

Economists: we can create a market for emissions

โ‡’ climateengineering was forgotten


A new debate is needed

What risks are we willing to take?

Who takes decisions?

... seems it will just be another polarizing issue=impasse

New data is needed

With it, governance to agree on what to test and how / Filed work is needed to fuel a fact based debate

Climateengineering does not mean we can continue as today.... so what is it for?

We should debate that / consider different goals and scenarios:

  • Use only in case of emergency?
  • breathing space while we lower emissions? more time, more emissions for the countries that need them?
  • As a compromise: X country can build X coal power stations for its development, we counter that by doing X
  • Slow down the rate of change

p170 One way to advance a debate is to step away from the idea that climateengineering can be used to control the climate.

Such talk is unrealistic; control in any normal sense of the term is, at the moment at least, not on the table. [...] geoengineers can hope to do little more than design ways to influence average climates in moderatly predictable ways [...]. That would be a remarkable achievement, but it would not be control.

geoengineering cannot control the climate. It can influence it

That doesn't mean it is not usefull.

Debate should be framed, not around control, but around the fact that this technology can be used to care for people.


  • debate today is not even possible: many think it's an outrage just to think about climaetengineering / they don't want to normalize it.
  • Climateengineering means we deliberatly and finaly erase the "natural world" and take a new level of control: most do not accept that.
  • But : we have already made changes on this scale, even if unintentional (see next chapter): are they not geoengineering already?

Pt. 2

7 Nitrogen

= Food for most of us. / productivity avoided deforestation of most of the planet

No one would say it's bad ... and yet it's a massive global change of Nitrogen cycle

This is now managed through taxes and trieties and policies ... it doesn't seem so weird or crazy or unnatural

It started out as a mess ... now it's engineered that way


We started changing the carbon cycle before the industrial age.


Are we in an interglacial age or post-glacial?

We might have a glacial age in 3000 years.

Our emissions today are already influencing that.

What will we do then? What if we started managing our climate on the very long term?


p288 experiments are needed to understand the earth system: this is more acceptable than geoengineering expirments (ex: cloud brightening)

Review of some past experiments on weather and regional climate

Pt. 3


We are not the first generation to know we are putting the future of civilization at risk: there where other things before: nuclear war and it's climate impact (cooling due to soot etc. = end of life on earth)

same when we were just a few: we probably faced extinction many times

There is a panic

p311 Frederic Jameson said it was now easier to see the end of the world than the end of capitalism

We could push earth into inhabitability, in the extreme: learnings from atom bomb tests give us an idea of the limits

It's easy to imagine catastrophes.


Do we have to see how bad it can get? (refuse engineering out of ideology, just because we need to "suffer for our sins?"

Engineering is not THE solution or a A solution.

It is a mistake to regard climate change as a problem to be solved. It will not be solved once and for all ... we will constantly need to be adjusting = the problem is here to stay.

Geoengineering can reduce harm

Notes from other parts

  • It's cheap: could be done by a small state, a private individual
  • It's easy to mess with the climate