Going Rogue: Russ George and the Problem of Governance in Geoengineering

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Andrew SZASZ, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
He convinced the Vatican that he was going to help it go carbon neutral by planting trees in the central plains of Hungary (where trees don’t grow).  He sold a Canadian First Nation tribe on the idea that seeding the Pacific Ocean with iron filings would make algae bloom, creating a powerful carbon sink while bringing back abundant runs of salmon. 

Visionary dreamer?  Manic-depressive?  Incorrigible sociopath?  Whatever the individual diagnosis, the phenomenon that is Russ George urges us to consider the question of governance.  If the only thing that’s left is Plan B, nation states are not going to be the only actors.  That would be hard enough, given the troubles we see in reaching, and further troubles then enforcing, international agreements, treaties, protocols.  But the problem of governance goes far beyond that, from the potential for action by a coalition of nations deciding to act without global consent, to the potential for action by non-State actors of various kinds, from, possibly, private corporations down to and including (as the case of Russ George shows) rogue individuals.   

In this paper I review the evidence on how the world has dealt – or, more exactly, failed to deal  -- with Russ George.  I then ask:  What can we learn from the failure to control him about the problem of governance if the world’s nations at some point start think that geoengineering is the only option left to them?