Monday, July 27, 2009
Change the World ?
I have problems with 'climate change'. I find the media burblings on the subject annoying. The extremists on both sides ... the naysayers and the doom-mongers ... seem to be the most common voices in the media reporting. There's no room for anyone with moderate views, or a reasoned approach, because they might seem weak. You say "you're not sure"? Ha! You've lost the argument already. You have to be absolutely positive of your side. 100% committed. Don't let facts or reason get in the way. But if the extremes of media punditry worry me, and they do, they are nothing compared to the extreme solutions to global warming that are gaining support in the US.
Geo-engineering is the latest solution to our climate worries that is being championed. It is, as the name suggests, the engineering of the globe to change weather patterns. It's all stuff that has been around for some time, some of it even lifted from the pages of Sci-Fi writers, Dumping iron filings in the oceans to lower temperatures. Seeding reflective clouds. Giant sea cooling machines. In the last few months the media reporting on geo-engineering has more than doubled (if my simple searches on Google are anything to go by).
Words like 'proactive' and 'prudent' are often used to describe geo-engineering. Risks are mentioned, but then sidelined with arguments like: "the threat of climate change is serious. Mitigation efforts so far have been limited in magnitude, tentative in implementation, and insufficient for slowing climate change enough to avoid potentially serious impacts". (http://www.livescience.com/environment/090721-geoengineering-climate.html)
As The Atlantic pointed out, geo-enginnering plans "are technologically plausible and quite cheap. So cheap, in fact, that a rich and committed environmentalist could act on them tomorrow."(http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200907/climate-engineering). In fact, Bill Gates has already suggested a geo-enginnering system to help tame hurricanes, by cooling the water in their path, reducing their strength (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/weather/article6719092.ece). One wonders just how far along the path of the hurricane such technology would be used? Before it hit Cuba? Or after? I mean, who's paying for it?
Geo-enginnering strikes me as a very American solution to our climate woes. Let's not worry about what is causing the change ... let's not reduce emissions (because that will harm the economy) ... let's not even bother to work together. Instead, we can unilaterally change our local climate for the better. Who cares if what we do may have consequences halfway around the globe. It'll just mean more people needed to buy bottled water and air conditioners.
You can see its appeal. It won't threaten American jobs, it will create them. Federal investment will pour into corporate research to develop weather mastery techniques. Rather than doing the natural harmony crap that a bunch of smelly, tree-hugging hippies want you to do, you can use superior technology to conquer and tame nature. You don't have to turn off your lights, drive a small car, or stop drilling for oil or mining for coal. Its the sort of climate crisis solution that an average guy can get behind, and discuss thoughtfully over a 24-pack of beer before shooting a few deer and heading back to civilization in their SUV for a super-sized burger meal.
Geo-engineering does not have widespread support just now. It is seen as too radical, too dangerous, too extreme. Support is growing, however, and the media is certainly doing its part in promoting the idea in recent weeks. By stalling on climate treaties and emission reduction targets those in power seem to be intent on making sure that moderate, reasonable solutions will not come to pass. When the shit hits the fan everyone will beg for the extreme solutions .... Geo-engineering is coming. I, for one, am scared shitless.