Under a white sky

P137 - The issue is not ... // We are gods, and we need to get good at it

Cloud whitening is in the funnel of solutions for protecting the great coral reef =Transition from small scale to large scale Point of view


Kolbert, E. (2021). Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future. Crown.



Down the River

History of the reversal of the Chicago river: connecting 2 river basins

Impact on the enviro:

invasive species

Louisiana loosing ground because of how the Mississippi is managed / loosing communities

What humans are doing to manage it

Electric fish bariers

Artificial flooding

Into the wild

Story of the dessert bobble fish, only lives in 1 water hole close to death valley

shows the extent to which we go to "preserve nature": building a multi million dollar replica of their pond etc.

Saving the coral reef in australia demands for a different scale

How researches are trying to accelerate natural selection: CRISPR / growing corals

One idea that is being tested is cloud whitening for a local cooling effect

Up in the air

p143 - Carbon sequestration plant in Island

p147 - We'Re failing at meeting any emission reduction targets.

Carbon capture would help to create "negative emissions"

Examples of some other technologies to capture CO2, including ones that are easier to scale than BECCS


Emissions should be regarded in the same way we see sewage. We don't expect people to stop going to the toilet. Incentivising, admonishing them to do so would not make sense. Yet we do control these "externalitites" (plumbing and water stations).

Discussions on emissions are now focused on Guilt : "such a moral stance makes everyone a sinner and makes hypocrites out of many ..."

We need to shift the paradigm by shifting the conversation

We are creative and ingenious ... sometimes it actually works


Climate justice asks that we don't require most countries to go down to zero fast.

This makes negative emissions irresistible

Most IPCC models that take us below 2C require negative emissions


Planting trees might help ... but there are a lot of complications linked to scaling

BECCS ... needs too much space / competes with food crops

How realistic is it to build a multi billion dollar industry (carbon capture), quickly, when there is no market for it?


Mt Tambora leads to deaths, and famines in Europe and North America


Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program : If volcanos can cool the world, people can, too.


It's been described as "dangerous beyond belief", "a broad highway to hell", "unimaginably drastic" and also "inevitable"

Fear is that at some point population will require gvmts to "act now" ... we better be ready and understand better what we could do or not... before the pressure is on and we have not time left


Alternatives to Sulfure: Diamonds / Calcium carbonate


In the first reports on climate change ... the talk was about climate engineering, not emission reduction

During the cold war there were plans to control the climate (especially over siberia) ... as a way to improve living conditions on earth


Solar geoingeneering depends on the human choices: how we decide to use it.

Saying that SRM will kill millions of people makes no sense ... what SRM are you talking about? done in what way? to what purpose?


David Keith: emissions will eventual fall to zero / Carbon capture will help ... but we need something for the overshoot. If the great barrier reef disapears ... that's irreversible

=โ‡’ We need to do everything

Based on the research: the safest would be to SRM with a goal of halving the warming effect, not 100%

If you halve the warming ... the impact is good (reduction in heat waves ...) and no region is made worse off.

What are the baselines here?


Moral hazard? (people will not reduce emissions if we do this) : who knows? Maybe it will stimulate it actually, if it's part of a package: reduce if you don't want more engineering


Most of our techno fixes go wrong?

That's what people think.

They forget all the ones that do go well: Agriculture!

The point is: what are we talking about? precisely? in terms of actions we want to take. We cannot dismiss a possible piece of the solution because in the past some very different actions have not worked


As world altering projects go, it's suprisingly easy.

A few 10s of BUSD per decade ... nothing


If we stop for whatever reason (war, pandemic, unhapiness) ... Termination Shock



List of impacts



Too small to have an impact = it is not risky BUT it does not give a "full risk assesment"

Still ... it has become a symbole


We're at 1,2C above pre-industrial: artic sea ice is melting faster than we thought. Same in Greenland ... how do we cope? we need more than emissions reductions.

Cloud whitening in the polar regions


Geoengineering on a planetary scale could be the last chance for many "natural" ecosystems

Even if we stop emissions tomorrow ... the impact will last for centuries. IPCC looks at this century ... but it will get worse

We are not opening a pandora's box ... that's naive ... of course the military is looking into weather and climate ... not a new idea!

Whether you think it should be done or not is irrelevant ... we don't get to decide. If there is pain and a possible solution ... it will happen. Role of scientists is to use all the time they have to figure out the risks


What if it backfires?


Last 10k years is when agriculture, writing etc. were invented ... why not before?

We are living in an unusualy stable climate since 10k years

We might be at the end of this stability

Ideas to help slow down the flow of ice from greenland into the ocean


We are not mobile anymore ... we need to adapt (we cannot move and pack up New York...)


problems created by people trying to solve problems

it doesn't feel like techno-optimism ... but techno-fatalism

We have to deal with the situation... don't solutions need to be considered?

Like Chemo: no one would do it ... unless you do need to do it

Implementation is a political decision. You would hope that decisions will be made with respect , equitably, based on facts ... the record isn't strong (ie climate change)