What Would Heidegger Say About Geoengineering?


Proposals to respond to climate change by geoengineering the Earth’s climate system, such as by regulating the amount of sunlight reaching the planet, may be seen as a radical fulfillment of Heidegger’s understanding of technology as destiny. Before geoengineering was conceivable, the Earth as a whole had to be representable as a total object, an object captured in climate models that form the epistemological basis for climate engineering. Geoengineering is thinkable because of the ever-tightening grip of Enframing, Heidegger’s term for the modern epoch of Being.

Yet, by objectifying the world as a whole, geoengineering goes beyond the mere representation of nature as ‘standing reserve’; it requires us to think Heidegger further, to see technology as a response to disorder breaking through. If in the climate crisis nature reveals itself to be a sovereign force then we need a phenomenology from nature’s point of view. If ‘world grounds itself on earth, and earth juts through world’, then the climate crisis is the jutting through, and geoengineering is a last attempt to deny it, a vain attempt to take control of destiny rather than enter a free relation with technology. In that lies the danger.


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