Geoengineering: solution or delusion?

The New York Times is an opinion leader in the US, at least among the liberal progressive community. In November it featured an article that anticipates the  publication of a major new report by the National Academy of Sciences on geo-engineering – ways of intentionally manipulating nature to counter climate change.

One approach outlined in the article is mining and spreading widely the mineral olivine on land and on ocean floors. Olivine absorbs CO2, a process already being used and researched in the Netherlands. A second example is solar radiation management (SRM) – spraying sulfuric acid droplets into the stratosphere to block incoming energy from the sun. Experiments are already underway in the UK and elsewhere.

Those advocating geoengineering argue that effects of climate change may become so severe that significant research should begin now and that the world must start to think about geoengineering — how it might be done and at what cost, who would do it and how it would be governed.

Geoengineering sounds like the ultimate self-deception of our ingenious species. The thought of intentionally manipulating something as huge, complex and not well understood as the atmosphere seems incredibly arrogant until you realise that a similar sort of arrogance – the blind commitment to unrestrained economic growth based on fossil fuel combustion –  this time unintended, is a cause of the problem in the first place.



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