Monday, July 03, 2006

Interlocking Systems

RealClimate has a post discussing geo-engineering solutions to the climate change problem. The spotlighted suggestion is that we should release sulfate aerosols into the upper atmosphere, an action which would serve, much as a volcanic eruption does, to screen some sunlight from the planet.

Yes, we would be cooler. However, there is the concomitant impact of acid rain to consider. How much damage does acid rain do to the planet, killing trees that sequester CO2, for instance, possibly damaging health and agricultural productivity? I think it's also important to consider the primary intended impact of this method. The reduction of sunshine is not completely benign. The effect on agriculture summed worldwide must be incorporated into any evaluation of cost. Does reduced sunlight equal reduced agricultural productivity? The other issue is that we won't be able to stop. One commenter call this the "Old lady who swallowed the fly" technique.

There are other geo-engineering approaches. Directly sequestering CO2 and methane seem to me more direct and desirable. Climate is so complex, and this is about more than just climate. The cybernetics of the situation are daunting and unintended consequences are likely. The safest approach is to undo what we have done. Can that really be done?

Well worth reading. There are many interesting comments as well.

There are still other geo-engineering approaches, such as seeding the nutrient-poor South Pacific with iron dust. The sudden bloom of life would certainly change something, but would it actually reduce the CO2? What else would it do?

My deepest concern here is that in the face of a clear and present danger, most convinced scientists are running around looking for solutions under every rock, while the influential members of the skeptical minority are in various degrees of denial. We do not have a government that processes information very well, and we do not have a government that can take appropriate and timely steps to protect the planet. Simply put, the government collectively does not have enough brains or strength to do what must be done. It does not truly represent us. Furthermore, I cannot see where a simple change of party or personnel is going to make any difference whatsoever. The US responds pretty well to crisis, but unless you are willing to wait for such an event, we should be thinking about the problem of governance as a preliminary step to solving the environmental problem.

7/3/2006 3:32 PM

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At Tuesday, July 04, 2006 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Then there's this from Lindzen and the Wall Street Journal, which you've probably seen already. I started to say something in my blog about it, but I see Grist, DeSmogBlog and others are on it better than would be.

One of the problems of governance seems to be that, with the complexity and scale of so many issues, one is forced to trust someone. We're forced pick from among various sides, each of which project and cultivate certainty.

I think this paper, Memetic Engineering - PsyOps and Viruses for the Wetware, by Michael Wilson, is excellent. I cached it on my old web site with the author's permission. I see others have cached or referred to it as well. Maybe one thing that could improve the state of governance would be to require every citizen to internalize it.

Ah, never mind that. :>|

At Wednesday, July 05, 2006 2:26:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

No, I hadn't seen the article. It's interesting, though, that the person who is individually most responsible for maintaining GW in the debate arena claims that there is no scientific debate. Thanks for the link.

You are exactly right about the trust issue. The problem is that most people are integrated into fabricated deferrence networks. The person that you are willing to listen to for an accurate assessment of things is either self-designated or, as in a minister or priest, installed by outside forces. Such people have skills at deflecting your questions, mimicking sincerity and projecting assertions with great self-confidence.

As a counter example, investment clubs represent a completely different kind of deferrence network. Each individual is assigned to develop an area of expertise in order to report back to the club. Leaders are carefully selected, democratically selected from within.

Wilson's writing is certainly very interesting. I wish he were still blogging. It would be nice to see him link is thinking into concrete current events. I do believe that the concept of memetics is very powerful. If nothing else, it gives us a new angle for evaluating, dare I say deconstructing, old ideas and schools of thought.

At Sunday, July 09, 2006 2:18:00 PM, Blogger mal said...

releasing anything in the athmosphere to alleviate the problems of CO2 is a process likely to suffer greatly from the "law of unforseen consequences"

Besides we are putting MILLIONS of tons of CO2 in the air. I hate to think how much junk we would need to add to offset it


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