Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Geoengineering on the Table

In a recent interview, the Obama administration's new science adviser, John Holdren, raised the possibility that global warming may become so severe that cutting back on carbon emissions won't be enough to cool the planet. In which case, he says, we should begin discussing ways to alter the climate with technology. It's really refreshing to see someone discussing geoengineering without any of the usual paranoid doom and gloom caveats. While it's true that testing massive geoengineering technologies would be tricky, there's no reason not to pursue them--especially when the planet is getting warmer by the minute. One possibility Holdren raised was to shoot heat-reflecting particles into the upper atmosphere. Another is the creation of so-called "artificial trees", machines that would filter and store carbon dioxide from the air. Of course, any such machine would have to have an energy source, so it would be worthless if it didn't clean more air than it polluted in the process. But that's why we should get to work on this stuff now, so by the time we might need to use it, we'll know what we're doing. But since that would require governmental prudence and foresight, it might be best to just start spending a few weeks out of the year in the deep desert to acclimate yourself to the dystopian future in store. Also, it wouldn't hurt to start training in your own homemade Thunderdome. More details here.

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