17 September 2008

Geo-Engineering

The Economist discusses different proposals and -- importantly -- the potential dangers of "engineered" ways of slowing climate change:
Many scientists are understandably nervous about tinkering on a grand scale with the atmosphere and the oceans. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—a scientific body appointed by the United Nations to assess the risks of a changing climate—has described geo-engineering as “largely speculative and unproven, and with the risk of unknown side-effects”.

Broadly, there are two types of fears. The first is of technological hubris. History is littered with plans that went awry because too little was known about complex natural systems.

[snip]

The other fear is of moral hazard—the possibility that people would see the promise of geo-engineering their way out of trouble, despite its risks and uncertainties, as an excuse to continue to pollute the atmosphere as usual.
An excellent summary on the topic.

Bottom Line: I am willing to support reversible pilot schemes to test geo-engineering only after we stop doing stupid things, e.g., subsidizing fuel consumption (Iran, Indonesia, Venezuela, India, et al.).

Addendum: Read about the impact of $0.04/liter gas in Venezuela, e.g., 30 km commute that takes 3 hrs.

3 comments:

Fixed Carbon said...

Fuel subsidies in US?

David Zetland said...

and?

As far as I know, subsides in the US are to roads but not fuel, which is lightly taxed.

Geo-engineering is about the planet, so I mean subsidies world-wide :)

Silas Barta said...

lol at how the woman makes the best of a 6-hour commute by listening to English lessons.

I do the same thing! Well, except the language I'm trying to learn is Japanese (and my total daily commute is more like 45 min).

Watashi no tokoro-de beeru-o nomimasen-ka? (Why don't you come have a beer at my place?)

Then Chinese, then Spanish.

Then Korean and French for good measure.