Distinguishing Moral Hazard from Morale Hazard in Geo-engineering
KeywordsGeoengineering, Moral Hazard, Moral Hazard, Carbon Dioxide Removal, Greenhouse Gas Removal, Negative Emissions Technology
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AbstractGeoengineering is the deliberate modification of the climate system. It has been discussed as a technique to counteract changes expected as a result of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) . Speculation has occurred that the possibility of geoengineering will reduce or delay efforts to mitigate AGW. This possible delay or reduction in mitigation has been described as ‘moral hazard’ by various authors. We investigate the definitions and use of the term ‘moral hazard’, and the related (but significantly different) concept of ‘morale hazard,’ in relevant law, economic and insurance literatures. We find that ‘moral hazard’ has been generally misapplied in discussions of geoengineering, which perhaps explains unexpected difficulties in detecting expected effects experimentally . We clarify relevant usage of the terms, identifying scenarios that can properly be described as moral hazard (malfeasance), and morale hazard (incaution, or recklessness). We note generally the importance of correctly applying this distinction when discussing geoengineering. In conclusion, we note that a proper consideration of the risks of both moral and morale hazards allows us to easily segment framings for geoengineering advocacy; and the advocates groups who rely on these framings. We suggest mnemonics for groups vulnerable to moral hazard (Business as Usuals), and morale hazard (Chicken Littles), and suggest development of an experimental methodology for validating the distinction thus drawn.