Over at Worldchanging, Alex Steffen has an excellent draft essay on the political risks of “geoengineering”:
Some scientists suggest that certain massive projects—like creating artificial volcanoes to fill the skies with soot, or seeding the oceans with mountains of iron to produce giant algal blooms—might in the future be able put the brakes on climate change. These “geoengineering” ideas are hardly shovel-ready. The field at this point consists essentially of little more than a bunch of proposals, simulations and small-scale experiments: describing these hypothetical approaches as “back up options” crazily overstates their current state of development. Indeed, almost all of the scientists working on them believe that the best answer to our climate problem would be a quick, massive reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions.
None of this has stopped geoengineering from becoming part of a new attempt to stall those very reductions, though. The same network of think tanks, pundits and lobbying groups that denied climate change for the last 30 years has seized on geoengineering as a chance to undermine new climate regulations and the U.N. climate negotiations to be held at the end of the year in Copenhagen. They’re still using scare tactics about the economic costs of change, but now, instead of just denying the greenhouse effect, they’ve begun trying to convince the rest of us that hacking the planet with giant space-mirrors or artificial volcanoes is so easy that burning a lot more coal and oil really won’t be a problem.
The piece is titled Geoengineering and the New Climate Denialism, which should give you a flavor for the direction of the post.
There’s a seperate conversation to be had about the substantive geophysical risks of trying to alter the planet’s systems. Alex’s piece, however, focuses on the near term political dynamics. It’s definitely worth a read.
This item is wrought with a clear political agenda. That is to foster the emission reduction strategy and ignore the more dire immediate problem. While it is true that most true geoengineering ideas are immature and not ‘shovel ready’ to add replenishment of ocean ecosystems into tha mileau illustrates ignorance or intent to misinform on that option. The politically correct climate change response for many is to argue against the use of fossil fuels and in favour of emission reduction. This path ignores the deadly carbon bomb already unleashed into the atmosphere in the form of more than 1000 billion tonnes of CO2, today only 1/4 reabsorbed by earth, oceans, and ecosystems and the death and destruction of yesterdays CO2. The remaining payload of yesterdays emissions is more than deadly enough to destroy the ocean ecosystems and cause that 70% blue part of this planet to re-boot to the bacterial seas of slime that pre-dated green plant and animal evolution back to a billion years ago. The impact of yesterday’s CO2 is today seen in the 30% acidification of the oceans but even more dire in the many fold decimation of ocean green plants and the pastures they provide for all forms of sea life. The Southern Ocean, least afflicted wih 10% of its phyto-plankton having been observed to disappear in the past 30 years is reported in many journals to be facing a CO2 tipping point of 2030. But the North Atlantic has suffered more, it has lost 17% of it’s ocean plants, the North Pacific 26%, and some tropical sea regions 50%. The primary cause of ocean plant losses is the observed decline in mineral micro-nutrient carrying dust that blows in the wind. As terrestrial plants benefit and grow better under the high and rising CO2 regime they serve as much better ground cover denying the ocean pastures vital mineral micro-nutrients. The result in the oceans pastures are becoming deserts. There is an immediately available deployable mitigation means to replenish and restore the ocean palnts and that is simply to return the mineral micro-nutrients to the ocean pastures in proper spatial and temporal fashion and restore the oceans and all life that lives within them. While some would call this replenishment of what we have denied the oceans geoengineering or iron fetilization and spin meister the dessriptions as if this is some sort of risky new creation it is not creation it is restoration of the natural state with natural mineral dust. ONLY replenishment and restoration of ocean plants and trees can compete for yesterdays CO2 and change it into life instead of death. The naysayers and monkey wrenchers especially from the dark and sinister green greed world fear this most of all as if the ocean pastures were restored to the state of health of jsut 30 years ago they would again, as they did then, convert 4-5 billion tonnes of deadly CO2 into ocean life instead of acid death. The problem the sinister cynical elements of the green world have with this is that replenishing and restoring the oceans would cost less than 1% of the amount being spent today to not even meet a 10% reduction of CO2 emissions. It would, as the head of the European Carbon Fund has stated, make ocean replenishment and restoration the ‘killer ap (application)’ in the world of climate change mitigation technologies. It would be so affordable this restoring the oceans and having those healthy oceans convert half the deadly problem of climate change into life prove to be an economic challange to other technologies. Perhaps even moving climate change action to treating the mortally wounded patient, Mother Earth, before chasing down and arresting the fossil fueled truck that ran her down in her garden.But isn’t that the point of being concerned about CO2. We are concerned about how it is destroying our ecosystems or so we thought. But for many, and sadly many of the biggest so called green organizations, the concern is first and foremost about the vast climate change economic trough at which they each seek as many snoutfulls as possible. Restoring the SEAS and TREES and solving half the crisis by restoring life is treated as the “killer app” when it is in fact the “living app.” Saving life on this planet thus is attacked through countless stories that try to sell the idea that its part of the evil ‘geoengineering’ or worse might be done in the context of the climate markets and actually be profitable. Read more about replenishing and restoring the SEAS and TREES at http://www.planktos-science.com
“The world’s emissions of the main planet-warming gas carbon dioxide will rise over 50 percent to more than 42 billion tonnes per year from 2005 to 2030 as China leads a rise in burning coal, the U.S. government forecast on Wednesday. China’s coal demand will rise 3.2 percent annually from 2005 to 2030, the Energy Information Administration said in its International Energy Outlook 2008.” –Reuters, 26 June 2008.Any carbon diet strategy would be dependent upon clean coal:”The vast majority of new power stations in China and India will be coal-fired; not “may be coal-fired”; will be. So developing carbon capture and storage technology is not optional, it is literally of the essence.” –“Breaking the Climate Deadlock,” Tony Blair, June 26, 2008.But, Vaclav Smil, an energy expert at the University of Manitoba, has estimated that capturing and burying just 10 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted over a year from coal-fire plants at current rates would require moving volumes of compressed carbon dioxide greater than the total annual flow of oil worldwide—a massive undertaking requiring decades and trillions of dollars. “Beware of the scale,” he stressed.””I’m going to tell you something I probably shouldn’t: we may not be able to stop global warming. We need to begin curbing global greenhouse emissions right now, but more than a decade after the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, the world has utterly failed to do so. Unless the geopolitics of global warming change soon, the Hail Mary pass of geoengineering might become our best shot.” –Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine, 17 March 2008.”The alternative (to geoengineering) is the acceptance of a massive natural cull of humanity and a return to an Earth that freely regulates itself but in the hot state.” –Dr James Lovelock, August 2008
Russ – you’re making some extremely heavy allegations about the green community there, along with some claims that seem to fly far away from mainstream science. Could you do us all the courtesy of backing them up with sources other than your company’s website?