Past Meetup

Experiment Earth: Responsible innovation in geoengineering

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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. This talk by Dr Jack Stilgoe, Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies at University College London, brings the audience up to date with this debate.

About Experiment Earth:

Drawing on three years of sociological research working with scientists on one of the world’s first major geoengineering projects, this talk considers 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 talk develops themes explored in Dr Stilgoe's recent book of the same name, "Experiment Earth: Responsible innovation in geoengineering" (http://experimentearth.org/).

See below for some reviews of this book.

About Dr Jack Stilgoe:

Dr Jack Stilgoe is a Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies at University College London. He has spent his professional life in the overlap between science policy research and science policy practice, at the think tank Demos, the Royal Society and at UCL, where he teaches courses on science policy, responsible science and innovation and the governance of emerging technologies. A full list of his publications is on Google Scholar. (http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=K6mGEr8AAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao)

Dr Stilgoe has worked with a range of organisations at the interface of science and policymaking, including EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, Practical Action, the Environment Agency, the European Space Agency, Unilever and Pfizer. At the Royal Society, he ran the study that produced the influential report The Scientific Century. He is a member of the Government’s Sciencewise steering group and the Research Councils UK Public Engagement Advisory Panel and he is on the editorial board of Public Understanding of Science.

Meeting logistics:

Cruciform Building is on Gower Street, and is a short walk from either Euston Square or Warren Street tube stations. It's a slightly longer walk from Goodge Street station. For a UCL map of the location, see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/cruciform-building .

Doors open 6.30pm for informal networking
Presentation starts 7.00pm sharp
Building empty by 9.00pm.

For anyone wanting to continue networking after the event, discussion will continue in a nearby pub: The Marlborough Arms (http://www.taylor-walker.co.uk/pub-food/marlborough-arms-bloomsbury/pid-C7440), 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ.

Thanks to support from UCL, there is no charge to attend this event. However, attendees are asked to register in advance, by RSVPing on this meetup page.

The usual Twitter hashtag for London Futurists events is #LonFut (https://twitter.com/search?q=%23LonFut).

Reviews of the book Experiment Earth:

From http://experimentearth.org/ :

“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

“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

“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

“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