23 June 2009

166 Days - Message to Everyone: When It Comes to Geoengineering to Save the Planet, How Can We Say No?

I've heard from two friends now that a recent presentation by a climate change expert ended badly because so many people became dissenters when he suggested a deep sea way to capture and store carbon.

So what gives? These armchair critics of geoengineering forget that their whole lives have been geoengineered in a way ... that they owe their comfort and, dare I say, their survival to the geoengineering of the planet that has taken place over the last 150 years or so. (Granted, some — see the article below — would call geoengineering a more deliberate manipulation of the Earth than what we've been up to — making things worse "by accident" while trying to get rich or make things better.)

Why, when people suggest geoengineering as a way to survive global climate change, do these same people get all huffy and suddenly quite protective of the sea, the land and the sky? Isn't it just a tad hypocritical?

Sure, be reluctant. Pose questions. Fear the unforeseen consequences. But remember that we have been inflicting unforeseen (and, I pray, unintended) consequences on the biosphere since the industrial revolution.

We can't now fear for our individual child's health when we have put the future of every child on Earth at risk. We can't all of a sudden "care" what happens to our oceans when we've been decimating them for decades. We can't get all worried about the atmosphere now, when we've been pumping up CO2 and methane levels like crazy for over a century.

For a discussion on why geoengineering might be our only chance at survival, see It's Time to Cool the Planet by Jamais Cascio, in the 15 June 2009 Wall Street Journal (I take my allies where I can find them).

"Altering the Earth's temperature, of course, is hardly anything new. Human civilization has been changing the Earth's environment for millennia, often to our detriment. Dams, deforestation and urbanization can alter water cycles and wind patterns, occasionally triggering droughts or even creating deserts. On a global scale, industrial activity for the past 150 years or so has changed the Earth's atmosphere, threatening to raise average world temperatures to catastrophic levels, even if we were able to stop releasing carbon into the atmosphere immediately."
— Jamais Cascio

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?