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Licensed or inspired?: How does awareness of climate engineering affect individuals’ motivation to participate in climate change mitigation?

Presenters Name: 
Hanna Davis
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Benjamin Converse
Secondary Research Mentor: 
Maura Austin
9:30 - 10:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 9:30am to 10:15am
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: 
USOAR Program

Purpose: As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, closing in on scenarios that include some of the worst effects of climate change, scientists and policy makers around the globe are increasingly grappling with the possibility of deploying some form of geoengineering to effectively run climate change in “reverse.” Some environmental philosophers and climatologists have expressed concern that awareness of geoengineering possibilities could create a “moral hazard,” decreasing the public’s commitment to supporting more traditional adaptation and mitigation efforts. These commentators are therefore reluctant to engage the public in discussions about geoengineering. Despite these concerns, the conditions that might produce a moral-hazard effect have not been thoroughly empirically investigated. The few studies that have been conducted show mixed results and there is some evidence to suggest that knowledge of geoengineering technology may even increase concern for climate change. Our experiment will investigate how learning about geoengineering, specifically solar radiation management technology that reflects sunlight back into space, affects individuals’ mitigation goals. Hypothesis: We will assess competing hypotheses. The Inspiration Hypothesis predicts that awareness of geoengineering will invoke a sense of urgency and increase commitment to climate-change goals. In contrast, the Licensing Hypothesis predicts that awareness of geoengineering will invoke a sense that sufficient future progress can be made and decrease commitment to climate-change goals. Method: We will randomly assign participants, adults across the political spectrum, to report on their attitudes about climate change, climatologists, and geoengineering technology after reading popular news articles about either solar radiation management or traditional mitigation efforts.