Climate science: stratospheric folly - book review by Tim Kruger

25 April 2014


In the 24 April edition of Nature, Oxford Martin School academic Tim Kruger analyses a new book that argues against geoengineering.

Mike Hulme, who took part in a debate on geoengineering in December at the Oxford Martin School, has published Can Science Fix Climate Change?, which focuses on a proposal to cool Earth by injecting aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect solar radiation. Tim Kruger looks at the book as a counterpoint to A Case For Climate Engineering by David Keith, who also took part in December’s debate.

Tim Kruger argues that the book is at its strongest when analyzing whether such techniques are governable. However, he finds fault when “Hulme compares the downsides with the climate of today, rather than with that of a climate-changed future. This is the equivalent of condemning a drug for having side-effects in healthy people before even considering whether the benefits would outweigh any side-effects in the ill.”

By so doing, argues Kruger, Hulme “avoids sullying himself with the consideration of what would constitute the lesser of two evils — a climate-changed world without stratospheric aerosols, or one with them.”

The review is a useful introduction to anyone interested in the pros and cons of geoengineering in today’s debates about climate change.

The book review can be read online at