It’s hard to argue with the recommendation from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences–that we should study methods of artificially cooling the climate, but certainly not rush into any actual efforts to do so.

That’s certainly what I think is a prudent course of action. If climate change turns out to be (I made this up) worse than we thought (what do you think of that as a catchphrase?) we may need all the arrows we can fit in our quiver.


Some of the reactions I’ve read seem a bit hysterical. For example, “Marcia McNutt, editor of the journal Science and former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, said in an interview that the public should read this report “and say, ‘This is downright scary.’ And they should say, ‘If this is our Hail Mary, what a scary, scary place we are in.'”

Michael Mann weighed in as well: “Such an idea “could do far more harm than good” and scientists should treat the Earth like doctors do their patients, abiding by the rule “first, do no harm,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann.”

Ray Pierre-Humbert said the idea was utterly, howlingly, barkingly mad and that developing albedo modification technology would be like giving a loaded gun to a child.

Al Gore called the idea “nuts” in 2013 and a lot of people who spend a lot of time telling us how bad climate change is going to be really, really don’t like geoengineering.

There’s no doubt that it would pose a risk–it might not work. It might work too well. There is the possibility of unintended consequences.

Which is why it’s smart to study it. To condemn it beforehand is just another roadblock–it seems as if they want climate change to remain forever a ‘wicked’ problem without a solution.

But global warming is only a wicked problem if we take all the solutions off the table. We could drastically reduce our impact on the climate by building enough nuclear power plants and converting our cars to electric. But nuclear cannot even be mentioned as a solution. Hydroelectric power and natural gas are considered just as evil. And now geoengineering is something we cannot even contemplate.

Which of these ‘cures’ is worse than the disease?


11 responses to “Geoengineering

  1. Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.

    —Anton Chekhov

    In a saner world, I would agree that we should fund research into every field of knowledge, in this world, no.

  2. In a saner world, would we let a lieutenant from Starfleet give us advice about hanging rifles or banish him to a cherry orchard?

  3. It’s the first step to learning how to terraform Mars…

  4. “Hydroelectric power and natural gas are considered just as evil.” What always surprises me is so many people on these blogs act like there is this huge anti hydro sentiment among the environmental left. If there is, I would have seen it by now. The anti hydro crowd is the pseudo radicals like McKibben who are well funded by Goldman Sachs.
    Most environmentalists buy the argument for traditional natural gas, but that’s not what we are talking about. The only attempts to measure leaking from horizontal drilling have placed escaped methane so high that it makes no sense as even a back up to solar or wind.

  5. …And as to the anti-gas, anti-hydro focus of big green:
    “Rather than merely opposing just the use of fossil fuels, Greenpeace opposes nuclear power and large-scale hydropower. Currently, “Greenpeace-approved” energy sources contribute less than 5% of the power in the United States, and adoption of their unrealistic energy policy would mean disaster for family budgets and the economy.

    If Greenpeace opposes all fossil fuels as “dirty,” it should favor nuclear energy as a way of producing reliable energy without producing carbon emissions. Yet the organization says, “Greenpeace has always fought – and will continue to fight – vigorously against nuclear power.”

    • Remember Hunter, that of everyone posting here, I’m the one on the Greenpeace blacklist. Their real target is the real environmental left.

  6. The geo-engineering that seems to be working fine is to increase CO2 in the atmosphere.
    Increased CO2 correlates well with increased worldwide crop yields, increased prosperity worldwide, increased lifespans, no change in tropical cyclone frequency or intensity, as well as weather variability wel within historical norms.

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