15th Conference on Planned and Inadvertent Weather Modification


Equity Issues in Weather Modification

Constance Uliasz, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Ethical issues in weather modification revolve primarily around two types of problems. First, the uncertainties inherent in weather modification techniques mean that a population may be harmed, physically or economically, by unforeseen meteorological events generated by a weather modification program. Second, even assuming that the technology works exactly as planned, there will still be people who do not benefit, and indeed may be harmed by any particular weather modification activity. Each weather modification program will result in both winners and losers; that is, people will not be affected equally. This paper will examine the issue of equity in weather modification by discussing two opposing philosophies. Utilitarianism and egalitarianism are two philosophical sets of ideas that can help to determine what and where weather modification activities should take place. Utilitarianism is the idea that whatever is best for a group, taken as a whole, should be permitted even though some members of the group may suffer hardships while others reap only benefits. Typically, in this system, a small group of people decides which activities are to be considered acceptable. As long as the greatest good for the greatest number is achieved, the decisions this elite group makes are considered to be right and just. Egalitarianism, on the other hand, is the belief that every concerned individual must see each activity as desirable if it is to be permissible, and each affected individual has the opportunity to express his or her desires about which activities are to be permitted. The goal is not maximizing good for the whole population, but rather that every individual has access to the basic rights of equal justice and equal protection. This author recognizes, however, that useful ethical systems must not only be based on sound moral reasoning but must also be realistically attainable. Therefore, the realistic implementation of a morally desirable weather modification program will also be examined.

Session 7, Societal and economic effects of human-induced weather and climate impacts
Thursday, 18 January 2001, 1:30 PM-2:00 PM

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