Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Geoengineering redux - aka Climate Engineering

Scroll down a bit in this blogspace and you'll find a blog I wrote on Geoengineering as a response to climate change (or, just click the link). It is nice to know that this potential fix is drawing increasing attention in legitimate research circles. Today's NY Times contains an article entitled The Earth is Warming? Adjust the Thermostat which provides an excellent concise discussion of this issue from both sides. The proponents of such solutions rightfully cite the decreasing likelihood of getting worldwide agreement on emissions reduction strategies and note that it may require affirmative action on the part of a few to avert the crisis. This is the assertion I made in my earlier blog post on this topic. Skeptics point to problem of unintended consequences that may result from such activities and they too are correct. Spraying aerosols into the atmosphere to simulate a volcanic winter is likely to have many other adverse effects. Pick your poison.

It is also true that simply adjusting the thermostat, so to speak, won't reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and thus problems with ocean acidification still remain. That is why I still believe that the best approaches to geoengineering (now referred to in some circles as climate engineering) are those that essentially scrub the atmosphere of CO2 rather than those that simply mask the problem by putting more junk into the atmosphere.

Interested readers should also consult work being done at the Copenhagen Consensus Center which is publishing a series of perspective and analysis papers on climate change and approaches to adaptation and mitigation. It is an excellent resource for those who wish to be more fully informed on the range of solutions that may exist. In my earlier post,
I noted that we should definitely take prudent measures now to avert a calamity in the future. But, I also noted that we must begin a serious investigation of the more active approaches to mitigating climate change and its first cousin, ocean acidification, now so that those technologies may be suitably developed if and when we need them.

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