Oh, great, DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an arm of the Defense Dept — is convening a meeting to look into geoengineering.

Count me with Ken Caldeira:

“The last thing we need is to have DARPA developing climate intervention technology,” says Caldeira. He says he agreed to go to the meeting “to try to get DARPA not to develop geoengineering techniques. Geoengineering is already so fraught with social, geopolitical, economic and ethical issues — why would we want to add military dimensions?”

That’s rather naive, though. If we pursue geoengineering, what are the chances the “military dimensions” won’t eventually be involved?

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Geoengineering fans constantly tell us that it’s “just research.” They assure us they still want to avert climate change via social and economic change, and that geoengineering is Plan B, or Plan C, or whatever the metaphor is.

But this has always struck me as a rather bloodless, rationalistic way of looking at it, a “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” spin on technology. Easy access to guns affects people’s decisionmaking, and the more tangible and within-reach the various dei ex machina of geoengineering seem, the more the political and economic debate will warp around them. Decisions are not made in vacuums.

Do you think China will see our military investigating the purposeful manipulation of climate and conclude that it’s “just research”?