The Only Good Climate Geoengineering Project
…is the one killed on sight!
No, seriously, it is quite fun to watch the increasing efforts in dreaming up one way or another to cool down the planet before it actually become warm enough to cause any concern. I sure everybody in that field good luck, and who knows if anything useful will come out of sheer serendipity.
There is one single point though that I find it impossible to do without. We do know almost nothing about our planet, its atmosphere and its climate, There must therefore be a basic rule for all geoengineering implementations: allow only those that can be turned on and off wholly, and at will.
That is, they must be REVERSIBLE.
If it’s planetary control that we want, we must be in absolute control of it. So no release of stuff in the atmosphere or oceans if we do not have a way to remove all that same stuff, whenever we want to, for example in the case that something goes bad (almost an absolute certainty, especially during the first attempts).
It would be extremely silly to repeat with the atmosphere or the oceans the mistakes of the past, like those that made rabbits and cane toads enter Australia and become incontrollable pests.
So from the list of climate-related geoengineering projects just published by The Economist, these are the verdicts:
- Fertilize the ocean with iron: NO
- Plant genetically-modified fast-growing trees: YES, if for example a gene is added to kill them all if need be
- Reacting CO2 with hydrogen – YES
- Magnetically eject CO2 into outer space – YES
- Polluting the stratosphere – NO
- Polluting the upper troposphere – NO
- Spraying clouds with seawater – YES, just for the fun of it. Who knows, perhaps we will finally learn how clouds form
Notably, the article does mention the issue of how to justify intervention (potentially bad for Canada and Russia) or nonintervention (potentially bad for Panama, if the Northwest Passage becomes commercially viable). But then it proceeds to praise climate geoengineering as a
big experiment, but it would at least be a planned one—unlike the equally big, but unplanned experiment that is now being conducted by motor cars, power stations, cement factories and logging companies all across the planet
There is a logical fallacy at work there. In fact, intervention cannot have the same moral weight as nonintervention: with the former, whoever does it is taking upon themselves the responsibility for the change. But we can dwell into those matters at a different time…