GeoEngineering is Bad Science Ethics and Worse Climate StrategyPublished by Ian Gunsolley on Mon, 05/20/2013 - 16:09
Progressing into the Future. Science. Technological Advancement. The Human Mind versus Nature. These idyllic symbols teach us that we are separate the human being from our unthinking animal brethren because we can use tools to solve our problems and make our lives not only more stable, but better. This world view believes that tools can solve all problems, and that technological solutions can be found for our worst woes. In the struggle to control global warming, this has led to the rise of the Geo-Engineering Science; the field which purports to claim to be able to solve the global warming crisis by managing the climate itself, rather than addressing the root causes of the problem.
There are a myriad of problems with this approach, but a few notable ones stand out. The first and foremost is that because we understand so little about how the global climate system actually works, it seems mind-bogglingly arrogant and foolish to immediately begin to try and tinker with it on the planetary scale. It seems likely that broad scale efforts to control the global climate without fully understanding its complexity is akin to attempting to keep a wobbly spinning top upright by experimentally tapping on its spinning sides… the top has it's own natural balance and "helping" it only destabilizes it faster. In it's own way, global warming is the result of an unwitting geo-engineering experiment that has been going on for over a century, and we are now faced with trying to undo the damage caused by it. Embarking in another, albeit purposeful, attempt seems likely to cause even more unintended effects with serious repercussions.
A second problem is that geo-engineering science is a waste of time as it only addresses the symptoms of our global warming problem, not its root causes (which is why the business lobby seems to be lining up to endorse it.) The same forces that worked hard to stop any action from being taken on halting global warming are now saying we can still conduct business as usual, we just need to "fix" the climate instead. It's the climate deniers version of "let them eat cake"; a response completely disconnected from reality and real (and attainable) solutions to our problems.
Most important of all though is that geo-engineering solutions are simply unneccessary; we have all we need today to begin to reign in global warming. Existing renewable energy technologies can move us away from the fossil fuel energy system that causes global warming and climate change, and requires no sustantial new developments to be implemented. Correcting a consumption-based economic system to one that fosters sustainability, conservation and efficiency would also blunt the damage being done. Geo-Engineering is simply another well-funded distraction.
For more on the problems and issues around the push for geo-engineering solutions, DemocracyNow! had an excellent interview with Clive Hamilton professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, Australia. A must see for those interested in getting a good background on the topic.