BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Development of geoengineering thought in Russia: historical and contemporary perspectives

Fri8  Apr02:00pm(20 mins)
CWB Plenary


Jonathan Oldfield, Marianna Poberezhskaya, Ruth Maclennan


Soviet science contributed significantly to our understanding of anthropogenic climate change and, as part of this, played a central role in the emerging science underpinning climate modification and geoengineering initiatives. The ideas of the Soviet climatologist M. Budyko (1920-2001) are typically referenced as some of the earliest interventions in the geoengineering debate. Much of the early focus was directed towards the country’s Arctic region and involved Soviet consideration of solar radiation management techniques during the early 1960s. This scientific debate existed in conjunction with a range of more aggressive initiatives to transform the natural environment for socio-economic benefit, many of which had implications for regional climates. While the more dramatic engineering schemes to modify natural systems have received a high level of attention and critique in the English-language literature, the more reasoned scientific debate has been largely ignored due to Cold War framing, language barriers and related issues. Nevertheless, the legacies of such scientific activity remain evident in current Russian science concerning geoengineering and feed into high-level international discussions such as those linked to the activities of the IPCC. In this paper we aim to contribute to our understanding of the history of geoengineering science with a specific emphasis on a hitherto marginalised source of scientific expertise within the English-language literature.