Just when you think the last boomlet for geoengineering the climate has expended itself and we might be rid of any serious consideration of it as a strategy for addressing climate change, it rises zombie-like from the dead and starts roaming the Earth again.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has recommended spending $100 to $200 million over the next five years to study the idea—its feasibility, possible unintended consequences, and an ethical framework for governing it.
The most important thing you need to know about geoengineering the climate is that we humans have probably been doing it since at least the dawn of agriculture. What we need now it seems is an intervention from TV talk show psychologist Dr. Phil to ask us his favorite question, “How’s that working for you?”
We have certainly been doing geoengineering since the dawn of the industrial age which we know has stoked climate change through carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels; changes in land use (deforestation, primarily); modern agricultural practices (methane released by livestock fed on grains, for example); and industrial chemical releases, the most egregious of which is currently sulfur hexaflouride used in the utility industry as “a hugely effective insulating material for medium and high-voltage electrical installations.” Sulfur hexaflouride is 16,300 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time horizon and 23,900 times more potent over a 100-year horizon.
Now that’s a feat of real geoengineering and the people who discovered sulfur hexaflouride in 1901 weren’t even trying to affect the climate!
What I’m getting at is even more important than the unintended consequences mentioned in the NAS report above. “Unintended” in that case means we are actively looking for and evaluating such consequences…
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resource insights, geoengineering, climate change, kurt cobb,