A rhetorical exploration of an underexamined side of climate change – the ongoing research into and development of geoengineering strategies
Geoengineering, Persuasion, and the Climate Crisis: A Geologic Rhetoric exposes the deeply worrying state of discourse over geoengineering – the intentional manipulation of the earth's climate as means to halt or reverse global warming. These climate-altering projects, which range from cloud-whitening to carbon dioxide removal and from stratospheric aerosol injection to enhanced weathering, are all technological solutions to more complex geosocial problems
Geoengineering represents one of the most alarming forms of deliberative discourse in the twenty-first century. Yet geoengineering could easily generate as much harm as the environmental traumas it seeks to cure. Complicating these deliberations is the scarcity of public discussion. Most deliberations transpire within policy groups, behind the closed doors of climate-oriented startups, between subject-matter experts at scientific conferences, or in the disciplinary jargon of research journals. Further, much of this conversation occurs primarily in the West.
Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder makes clear how the deliberative rhetorical strategies coming from geoengineering advocates have been largely deceptive, hegemonic, deterministic, and exploitative. In this volume, he investigates how geoengineering proponents marshal geologic actors into their arguments-and how current discourse could lead to a greater exploitation of the earth in the future.
Pflugfelder's goal is to understand the structure, content, purpose, and effect of these discourses, raise the alarm about their deliberative directions, and help us rethink our approach to the climate. In highlighting both the inherent problems of the discourses and the ways geologic rhetoric can be made productive, he attempts to give "the geologic" a place at the table to better understand the roles that all earth systems continue to play in our lives, now and for years to come.
Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder is associate professor of professional, technical, and scientific writing at Oregon State University. He is the author of Communicating Mobility and Technology: A Material Rhetoric for Persuasive Transportation.
"Geoengineering, Persuasion, and the Climate Crisis: A Geologic Rhetoric is the first book in rhetorical studies on the controversial topic of geoengineering. More importantly, the concept of geologic rhetoric it develops is the best discussion of rhetorical theory and the problematics of climate change that I have seen, and it provides an exciting new direction in rhetoric of science and the environment. It is carefully researched and theorized, but it is also very readable and engaging."
– Carl G. Herndl, coeditor of Green Culture: Environmental Rhetoric in Contemporary America
"Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder takes what could easily be viewed as the tectonic rift between the sciences and the humanities and helps bridge the divide. Here he offers a 'geologic rhetoric' that is grounded not in 'either/or' propositions and hierarchical assumptions but rather in more nuanced ideas about how humans may work alongside our planet in deliberative and responsive ways to achieve a sustainable future."
– Amy D. Propen, author of Visualizing Posthuman Conservation in the Age of the Anthropocene
"This is an exceptional overview of what we might justifiably consider a terrifying science – geoengineering – that asks us to think about how our worldviews quite literally shape our world. 'The earth,' Pflugfelder writes, 'is being rhetorically weaponized,' and in this powerful but accessible account we're told a story that weaves together materiality, non-Western rhetorics, risk, capitalism, and communication. Academic books have a reputation for dryness; this one is not. I not only read this cover to cover but enthusiastically came back for more."
– Derek G. Ross, editor of Topic-Driven Environmental Rhetoric
"Most discussions of our earthly environment – verbal or in writing – draw on science, technology, economics, politics, aesthetics, or some combination thereof. This book, whose title contains the keyword "geoengineering" (i.e., manipulation of our environment by human action), resorts to none of these disciplines. It's a book about rhetoric – how we argue about ideas or things, especially how we discuss nature and its manipulation by humanity. This text will prove difficult reading for the layperson, but should be of interest to those concerned with how we frame such arguments – less so to those who care about why. Optional."