Geoengineering, the idea of addressing climate change through large-scale technological projects, stands out among contested technologies in the degree to which its scope of possibilities and its premise are characterized by global existential risks. Despite controversy, this field has been shifting toward mainstream consideration. Geoengineering Discourse Confronting Climate Change: The Move from Margins to Mainstream in Science, News Media, and Politics examines the trajectory of geoengineering through critical discourse analysis of three key genres: science policy reports, news journalism, and congressional hearings. Brynna Jacobson explores how reports from distinguished scientific societies have constructed certain notions of legitimacy around geoengineering, how narratives within news coverage have reflected and shaped the public discourse and understanding of geoengineering, and how geoengineering has garnered political support from both major political parties in the United States. Through analysis of discursive conventions within these genres, the author reveals the evolution of notions of normalcy, legitimacy, and imperative around the field of geoengineering.
Brynna Jacobson teaches as part-time faculty in the Department of Sociology at the University of San Francisco.
Section I: Climate, Geoengineering, Risk, and Modernity
Introduction: Climate Crisis, Global Risk, and Geoengineering
Chapter 1: Risk, Climate Politics, and the Challenge of Reflexive Modernization
Section II: Scientific Discourse and the Construction of Legitimacy
Chapter 2: Science Policy Reports and the Framing of Geoengineering
Chapter 3: Science Policy Reports and the Construction of Legitimacy: Research, Actors, and Public Engagement
Section III: Journalism and Presenting Geoengineering to the Public
Chapter 4: Geoengineering Presented to the Public: Narratives and Trends in News Media, 1991–2016
Chapter 5: News Media Framing and Discursive Presentation of Geoengineering
Section IV: Congressional Hearings
Chapter 6: Geoengineering in the Political Sphere: Congressional Hearings, 2009–2017
Section V: Technology and Reflexivity
Conclusion: Interconnections, High Technology, and Reflexive Modernization
About the Author
Is the possibility of geoengineering (i.e., carbon sequestration combined with atmospheric intervention) a welcome solution to the threat of climate change, or is it merely a smokescreen to allow further use of fossil fuels? Jacobson explores this and many other salient questions in this timely, well-researched book. The author is a sociologist, and this book is written as a high-level sociological critique, using techniques of discourse analysis against what the author posits as "key genres," i.e., science policy writing, news media articles, and congressional hearing transcripts, covering the period 1991–2017…. The text features extensive references and a useful index. Highly recommended. Faculty and professionals. General readers.
"Brynna Jacobson offers a comprehensive analysis of the discourses surrounding geoengineering (GE). Jacobson examines key issues, including the increasing normalization of GE, the linkage between research and deployment, and whose voices are dominant and whose are ignored. Most importantly, Jacobson shows how powerful actors vested in an ever-growing and carbon-intensive economy have replaced much of their efforts focused on promoting climate denial and skepticism with efforts to promote GE as the answer to the climate crisis. This is a timely book that should be of interest to scholars, students, and all concerned citizens."
"Brynna Jacobson provides a reflexive analysis of the paradoxes that geoengineering evokes, refreshing in its account of the wider societal culture in which a narrative on how to ‘solve’ climate change through technological intervention could emerge."
"If you're interested in understanding why there is so little movement on climate change in the USA, then this is a must read. Focusing on policy debates around geoengineering, Brynna Jacobson unpacks the popular and policy narratives that transform geoengineering from a fringe interest into a major techno-fix in climate policy. Jacobson shows how this cheerleading for geoengineering ends up stymying climate action."