Friday, April 16, 2010

Geoengineering: Mad Science...Last Resort....Doable..?

Technological hubris..playing God with climate..mad science... in between these extremes are a range of intermediate options and views on geoengineering.

On NPR's Fresh Air writer Jeff Goodell talks about his book How to Cool the Planet. It is an informative restrained talk, not quite endorsing geoengineering.. only suggesting that since there seems to be no signs of serious global efforts to reduce emissions in any significant way... it may be time to start thinking seriously about geoengineering.

That won't come without its own problems. There will be geopolitical issues to be dealt with along with ethical issues of who can and should act as the earth's thermostat.

Speaking of geopolitical issues and international co-operation on Energy Outlook Geoffrey Styles is skeptical that international treaties will work:,

Imagine having tried to get the delegates at Copenhagen to agree to let someone put finely-divided salt particles into the atmosphere over, say, the Arctic, to make clouds more reflective. Might as well have tried to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge at the same time.

That's the core of the problem as I see it: If we do end up needing to deploy geoengineering, it's likely to be precisely because we were unable to get every country on earth--or even just the small subset of large emitters--on the same page with regard to climate change, let alone establish a universally-trusted body to oversee their mitigation efforts. If we yoke geoengineering to the same UNFCCC/IPCC process that brought us the Copenhagen Climate Conference and the Kyoto Protocol, then we might as well forget it and try to figure out where to invest in the likely new beachfront property of the 2050s.

He has some interesting thoughts too on the set up of small scale geoengineering experiments.

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