Surviving Climate Change

consensus image_97A number of outlets covered this: “[US] Government-backed scientists Tuesday called for research and testing of last-ditch ‘climate interventions’… ‘It is certainly a questionable [approach]. It is certainly dangerous, which is precisely why it needs to be understood. Imposing ignorance on ourselves, because we are worried we don’t want to go there, is irresponsible.'”

I am instantly suspicious of anyone, on any topic, who wants to ban research, to impose ignorance on ourselves. We suffer some sad examples in the US – our Congress has passed rules forbidding proposed health care legislation from being evaluated by the budget office, and banned research into deaths due to guns. I suppose it’s an unintended compliment when political groups use pseudoscience to shore up their positions – at least they seem to acknowledge science is important.

But the latest crop of climate change articles does something odd – it combines mitigations like trapping the carbon dioxide from industry with speculative interventions like boosting the reflectivity in Earth’s atmosphere. How does planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide get lumped in with self-levitating aerosols to block sunlight?

The climate has and will continue to change. The current warming trend is, in large part, caused by billions of humans across decades. We must adapt to this reality, limit the damage, and still provide a good life for everyone on this planet. As the poet says, “you have a right to be here.”

I hope that all proposals to improve the future don’t get painted with the same Frankenstein brush. Even geoengineering has uncontroversial ideas, like “cool roofs” on buildings. Climate change is a slow motion disaster, which means we have time to take a deep breath and think.

That said, the writer in me thinks there have to be a lot of stories in geoengineering – and not just from the all-too-standard evil-corporation-dystopia angle.

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