Morton, O. (2017). The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World (Reprint ed.). Princeton University Press.
- Climate change needs to be dealt with
- Geoengineering is an option, that many do not want to consider because it contradicts their views of what is natural or acceptable / ideology
- But we are already engineering out environment ...
- Geoengineering could be used for different purposes: it is not a control mechanism but could help buy time or ease the pain
- We need to experiment to understand how it could work and open up an non-polarizing issue: the limits / what works well / where are the impacts / how the system reacts
- In any case it is hard to imagine a world where no one will try it (it's cheap and easy) ... so we might as well discuss, setup a proper governance (what do we want to test? what would the be goal of engineering...?) as a world community than to wait and let a rogue state or person do it on it's own
Position on the climate debate.
The fact that is it real and man made and risky is not debatable anymore
- Do the risks posed by climate change merit serious action? Yes
- Do you think reducing emissions to zero in our economy is very hard? Yes: we are failing / heavily. It will not happen
⇒ Then you must consider geoengineering as an option
Storytelling about the stratosphere (U2 planes, history) and ozone layer
Imagine: a plane creating a veil high up in the stratosphere
Energy input and output: basics of weather and climate
p67. Trenbert Diagram
History of our impact on the climate. Climate is never in balance.
Geoengineering transands traditional poles on the climate "debate": environmentalists between them / deniers also don't agree for different reasons
What happens when a punctual change is created on the climate?
Basically: inject sulfur High up in the atmosphere
p93. A test for climate models
Learning: it does have a cooling effect + there are other impacts, globally
1815 - Tambora explosion = Famin in Ireland
p114. It is not an antidote to climate change, it is an additional one on top. We cannot keep the planet "as it is" even if we can stablize the avg T
GeoMIP's models of engineered planets vs. today
- Not the same T
- There will be winners and loosers p120
There is a lot of uncertainty: Models are incomplete! Analysis is hard. Studies contradict themselves
Issue: will we need to perform veiling for ever?
It's easy to create a catastrophe
What this tells us: yes it's confusing / yes it's risky / yes we need to understand more ... but it also means there is a potential to mitigate the risks of climate change. We should not pass that chance because of the other problems.
Even if there was no uncertainty: would it be a good idea?
We've modified heavily our environment to be able to survive: cut down forest for food / drained swamps etc.
Thinking has evolved: history. Focus on rain and survival and food.
1950s: environmental warfare / seen as a possible weapon
CO2 than became the key target, because:
p142: moral objections from political environmentalists: growth is not linked to happiness. A real change is needed / not a fix
Easy enough / seemed like a good place to tackle the problem
simple to explain / to negotiate : a reduction / "we need to reduce"
Economists: we can create a market for emissions
⇒ climateengineering was forgotten
A new debate is needed
What risks are we willing to take?
Who takes decisions?
... seems it will just be another polarizing issue=impasse
New data is needed
With it, governance to agree on what to test and how / Filed work is needed to fuel a fact based debate
Climateengineering does not mean we can continue as today.... so what is it for?
We should debate that / consider different goals and scenarios:
- Use only in case of emergency?
- breathing space while we lower emissions? more time, more emissions for the countries that need them?
- As a compromise: X country can build X coal power stations for its development, we counter that by doing X
- Slow down the rate of change
p170 One way to advance a debate is to step away from the idea that climateengineering can be used to control the climate.
Such talk is unrealistic; control in any normal sense of the term is, at the moment at least, not on the table. [...] geoengineers can hope to do little more than design ways to influence average climates in moderatly predictable ways [...]. That would be a remarkable achievement, but it would not be control.
geoengineering cannot control the climate. It can influence it
That doesn't mean it is not usefull.
Debate should be framed, not around control, but around the fact that this technology can be used to care for people.
- debate today is not even possible: many think it's an outrage just to think about climaetengineering / they don't want to normalize it.
- Climateengineering means we deliberatly and finaly erase the "natural world" and take a new level of control: most do not accept that.
- But : we have already made changes on this scale, even if unintentional (see next chapter): are they not geoengineering already?
= Food for most of us. / productivity avoided deforestation of most of the planet
No one would say it's bad ... and yet it's a massive global change of Nitrogen cycle
This is now managed through taxes and trieties and policies ... it doesn't seem so weird or crazy or unnatural
It started out as a mess ... now it's engineered that way
We started changing the carbon cycle before the industrial age.
Are we in an interglacial age or post-glacial?
We might have a glacial age in 3000 years.
Our emissions today are already influencing that.
What will we do then? What if we started managing our climate on the very long term?
p288 experiments are needed to understand the earth system: this is more acceptable than geoengineering expirments (ex: cloud brightening)
Review of some past experiments on weather and regional climate
We are not the first generation to know we are putting the future of civilization at risk: there where other things before: nuclear war and it's climate impact (cooling due to soot etc. = end of life on earth)
There is a panic
p311 Frederic Jameson said it was now easier to see the end of the world than the end of capitalism
We could push earth into inhabitability, in the extreme: learnings from atom bomb tests give us an idea of the limits
It's easy to imagine catastrophes.
Do we have to see how bad it can get? (refuse engineering out of ideology, just because we need to "suffer for our sins?"
Engineering is not THE solution or a A solution.
It is a mistake to regard climate change as a problem to be solved. It will not be solved once and for all ... we will constantly need to be adjusting = the problem is here to stay.
Geoengineering can reduce harm
Notes from other parts
- It's cheap: could be done by a small state, a private individual
- It's easy to mess with the climate