February 2015 WEF: Should we deliberately manipulate the climate?

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https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/02/should-we-deliberately-manipulate-the-climate/?utm_content=buffer3ef49&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The publication of a hefty two-volume report on geoengineering by the US National Research Council represents a marked shift in the global debate over how to respond to global warming.

To date, the debate has been about mitigation, with the need for some adaption because of the failure to reduce emissions adequately. The new report, backed by the prestige of the National Academy of Sciences of which the NRC is the working arm, now argues that we should develop a “portfolio of activities” including mitigation, adaptation and climate engineering.

In other words, rather than presenting climate engineering, and especially solar radiation management (rebranded “albedo modification”), as an extreme response to be avoided if at all possible, the report normalises climate engineering as one approach among others.

To be sure, the committee writing the report points to the serious risks likely in albedo modification, but it recommends the US set in train what would be a major research program into various forms of geoengineering, including field experiments in a technique to cool the planet by spraying sulphate aerosols into the upper atmosphere.

And it endorses the deployment of various carbon dioxide removal methods as relatively benign ways to counter human emissions, arguing that the decision on mitigation versus carbon dioxide removal is largely a question of cost. This approach is riddled with political dangers.

By mainstreaming geoengineering as a response to global warming the committee has left behind the argument put by Dutch Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen, in his famous 2006 article that opened the floodgates for geoengineering research, that desperate times will require desperate measures.

With no talk of “climate emergencies” in the report, we look in vain for any clear rationale for the possible deployment of albedo modification. The “buying time” argument – according to which we can temporarily increase the Earth’s albedo (surface reflectivity) while the world decides to put CO2 controls in place – has fallen out of favour because any warming suppressed by a solar shield will just come back to bite us once the shield is removed.

So there is a contradiction buried in the report: it recommends the initiation of a federal research program into albedo modification but does not give a plausible analysis of the circumstances in which the solar shield might be deployed. The recommendation that “Albedo modification at scales sufficient to alter climate should not be deployed at this time” (my emphasis) is hardly reassuring.

In the absence of a rationale, the report reverts to the standard scientists’ trope: we need more information. Deploying a fleet of planes to coat the Earth with a layer of sulfate particles “should only be contemplated” when we have enough data to know what effect it would have, and for this we need a lot of research.

But who should do it? Who should oversee it? Who should own the results? Who would deploy the technologies? How can we ensure research is not misused? These questions, which ought to come before a decision is made to proceed with research, are either not considered or are shunted off to some vague “governance” space.

Research does not take place in a social vacuum. When scientists propose to investigate technologies that would allow someone to take control of the Earth’s climate, and the research is proposed only because powerful interests have prevented a much better solution, then the research is intensely and inevitably political.

So we should not let the genie out of the bottle unless we are pretty sure we can put it back. And that means no research before governance. The committee stresses its desire for public engagement but then undoes it by seeming to endorse a proposal for an “allowed zone” in which scientists alone would decide which experiments could take place. In this zone, experiments “should not be subject to any formal … vetting and approval”, so the report’s fine words about civil society engagement begin to ring hollow.

———–

“In the absence of a rationale, the report reverts to the standard scientists’ trope: we need more information. Deploying a fleet of planes to coat the Earth with a layer of sulfate particles “should only be contemplated” when we have enough data to know what effect it would have”

duh..

“The new report, backed by the prestige of the National Academy of Sciences of which the NRC is the working arm, now argues that we should develop a “portfolio of activities” including mitigation, adaptation and climate engineering.”

like they havent been doing it before?

401

~ by seeker401 on July 4, 2015.

2 Responses to “February 2015 WEF: Should we deliberately manipulate the climate?”

  1. lol ‘Should we” ???? They’ve been doing it for some time now.

  2. What about the termites ? Do we spray them as well ?

    I LOVE CO2 :-

    “Not only is carbon dioxide’s total greenhouse effect puny, mankind’s contribution to it is minuscule.
    The overwhelming majority (97%) of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere comes from nature, not from man. Volcanoes, swamps, rice paddies, fallen leaves, and even insects and bacteria produce carbon dioxide, as well as methane. According to the journal Science (Nov. 5, 1982), termites alone emit ten times more carbon dioxide than all the factories and automobiles in the world.

    Natural wetlands emit more greenhouse gases than all human activities combined. (If greenhouse warming is such a problem, why are we trying to save all the wetlands?) Geothermal activity in Yellowstone National Park emits ten times the carbon dioxide of a midsized coal-burning power plant, and volcanoes emit hundreds of times more.
    In fact, our atmosphere’s composition is primarily the result of volcanic activity. There are about 100 active volcanoes today, mostly in remote locations, and we’re living in a period of relatively low volcanic activity.”

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