The Idea That We Will Science Our Way Out of Climate Change

first_img Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned with the idea that people won’t make significant changes to their lifestyles and that governments won’t commit to radical action — instead relying on the deluded and dangerous presumption that some advanced technology will save us. Part of that comes from the fact that scientists have dreamed up these plans in the first place. Wake Smith, a partner at a private equity firm and ex-airline exec has pioneered a feasibility study to look at what it would take to pull off some of our last-ditch plans to combat global warming.May of these are various kinds of geoengineering projects that are designed to counter specific symptoms of the climate change problem. In Smith’s case, it would be pumping sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to mimic the chilling effect of massive volcanic explosions. It’s important to note that while this would cool the Earth, it also doesn’t fix the problem with the concentration of CO2 in the air. The oceans would still grow more and more acidic, killing off all manner of marine life and kneecapping global ecosystems and food systems, not to mention permanently ridding the world of premium sushi. And that’s just one example.Still, Smith’s study shows that it’s frighteningly cheap to pull off. Only about $3.5 billion.“I think it’s bad news how cheap this is,” Smith told a group at Harvard’s Center for the Environment.The problem is that politicians and the public may think that these solutions are good enough and will opt for them without considering the myriad of consequences that come with it. Geoengineering has tons and tons of downsides that could include more ozone damage, acid rain, the aforementioned continued decline of some ecosystems, etc. Plus, once we start these projects, there really isn’t any room to turn around. Some, if we tried to stop them, would specifically trigger runaway greenhouse effects that could wipe out almost all life on earth and make our problems that much worse.“We need to know more about the risks involved before we, if we can ever, deem it safe to use,” Helene Muri, a researcher at the University of Oslo geosciences department said. “Solar geoengineering is in any case not a substitute for cutting CO2 emissions.”Even more troubling, though, is the relative ease with which people can unilaterally pull off one of these projects. Legally speaking, it’s easier to pump weird gasses into the atmosphere than it is to remodel your home. At least according to Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change at Columbia University told the Huffington Post.“I think there is such a large chance that someone will try geoengineering that it really needs to be governed,” he added. To that end, Gerrard just published a book about the laws behind it, alongside Tracy Hester at the University of Houston Law Center to help policymakers better understand the issues.But, at this point, it’s hard to have much hope. Politicians are already so hopelessly clueless on something as fundamental as Facebook that there is no hope they’ll grasp something as nuanced and important as geoengineering. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Geek Pick: Ecobee Thermostat Is Smarter With Voice ControlClimate Change + Human Excrement = Death of Coral Reefs center_img Stay on targetlast_img

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