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Monday, July 19, 2010

Will Geoengineering Make Things Better or Worse?

Is geoengineering the answer to our global warming problems?:

Is the cure (geoengineering) worse than the disease (global warming)?, by David Biello: If there's one thing more potentially contentious than the international politics of global warming..., it's the politics of the most radical suggestion to solve it: geoengineering. ...
Geophysicist Kate Ricke of Carnegie Mellon University and her colleagues show that one of the more feasible geoengineering methods—injecting reflective particles into the atmosphere to mimic the world-cooling effects of a volcanic eruption—will have effects that vary from place to place. So, for example, India might be rendered too cold (and wet) by a level of particle injection that's just right for its neighbor China while setting the levels to India's liking would toast the Middle Kingdom.
What's worse, the computer models that show that such injections might work in the short term also show that they will change global weather patterns by making part of the atmosphere more stable—and therefore less likely to promote storms. That means less rainfall to go around—and these side effects become worse with time. ...

Engineers used to show up in comments and tell me that, unlike economists, they know how to build systems in ways that prevent the chance of catastrophic collapse like we had in the financial system. Then the oil spill in the gulf happened and they've become much more scarce. Even if the models said this will work without any worrisome side effects or geographic differences, the stakes are too high to use that result as an excuse to delay action on the global warming problem. We need to start solving this problem now and if we are lucky, we won't have to depend upon the geoengineers to prevent catastrophic effects from global warming.

    Posted by on Monday, July 19, 2010 at 01:53 PM in Economics, Environment, Science | Permalink  Comments (80)


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