Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on November 28, 2007
Are we ready for artificial trees and volcanoes, stimulating massive plankton growth, and putting a giant mirror in space above Greenland? It’s sad, but true that we’re going ahead and planning artificial techniques as our plan “B” to cool the earth.
Does knowing that there’s a backup plan like geoengineering encourage people to do less on their part? On the contrary, it should be a red flag and only encourage people to pump up action taken locally and globally.
Early in November, a conference was held at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to discuss geoengineering remedies for global warming. The participants in the conference noted that global emissions of greenhouse gases were moving above the limits predicted by climate models.
So, how long before a decision is made as to whether geoengineering plans need to go into effect and what kind?
There are some commercial companies already going ahead. Climos just announced a patent filing that covers ocean iron fertilization, which would stimulate the growth of plankton. This alone doesn’t sound like such a terrible idea, but there are many other companies testing out other types of geoengineering and there is still question as to who will maintain control over these efforts. As Columbia University Professor Klaus Lackner says, “With climate engineering, we’re not the only ones that can do it. There are any one of 25 countries that could do it. Who gets to control it? Who gets to decide?”
One major concern: if a geoengineering program goes into effect globally and for some reason fails, a spike in global temperatures could result.
Power struggles, unexpected side effects of geoengineering on the environment, and of course the financial ramifications are all still to be determined. If we’re going to have a backup plan, it’s going to take time to build it carefully.
Of course, plan “A” is still in effect. But it clearly needs to be cranked up several levels.