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Not supercilious at all. Merely factual.
Take care -
My question marks are a smiley gone wrong
Oh well, that happens occasionally.
Proposals for geoengineering projects sound like something out of science fiction.
Pumping aerosols into the upper atmosphere to make clouds more reflective, for example. Or fertilizing oceans with iron to promote the growth of plankton and algae so they consume more carbon dioxide.
Then there are proposals to plant vast swathes of trees in desert areas, or brighten clouds above marine areas to prevent ocean warming.
They sound like drastic interventions because that's what geoengineering is: the active and intentional modification of the climate.
As the Paris agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to two degrees or less seems increasingly improbable, there has been renewed interest in solutions that once seemed morally challenging, or difficult to contemplate.
To proponents, like Cambridge University's Hugh Hunt, geoengineering could mitigate the worst aspects of climate change, and provide time to look for more permanent solutions.
"It's a little bit like someone with lung cancer - we're not going to give you a transplant if you're going to carry on smoking," he said.
"Geoengineering will buy us some time, until we get this sorted out."
Dr Hunt is currently investigating the construction of huge updraft towers in the desert, and using the air flows to generate electricity while stripping the airstream of greenhouse gasses.
He previously worked on a project named SPICE — Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering — which looked at sending a tethered balloon 20km above to earth to seed aerosols into the stratosphere.
In theory, the particles would change the optical properties of sunlight, reflecting more solar radiation into space and reducing global temperatures.
The idea was to emulate natural volcanic events, like the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which caused global cooling of one degree for about a year.
Intellectual property concerns were among the reasons SPICE and its balloon fell back to earth, figuratively speaking.
"It was closed down because it was deemed to be controversial," he said.
Dr Hunt is concerned about the lack of research into geoengineering solutions, which he says could leave the international community seriously unprepared if any country decided to act unilaterally.
"If they could be made to work, they could be quite cheap - the development time can be short, and the cost low," he said.
They may seem far fetched, but geoengineering projects have already been proposed for areas in Australia's backyard.
One of the markers of global climate change is the health of the world's coral reefs, which are particularly sensitive to changing temperatures.
Following two consecutive years of mass coral bleaching, a team of researchers at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science last year proposed altering the clouds above the reef in a bid to save the delicate coral communities below.
They advocated "marine cloud brightening", making larger and more reflective clouds over the ocean to cool the water underneath.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) chief scientist David Wachenfeld said the authority has already undertaken local action to improve the resilience of the reef to climate change, which he said was "far and away the greatest threat" to its survival.
Although they are much smaller in scope than those proposed by geoengineering advocates like Dr Hunt, Dr Wachenfeld said the GBRMPA had already looked at adaptation and marine park management to reduce human impact on the reef, include altering turtle nesting habitats to ensure greater numbers survive each year.
"These areas can certainly still recover if we do the right thing in terms of global mitigation of climate change and local actions to improve resilience," he said.
"We need to try harder, do more and act now."
Summer ice in the Arctic is now so thin that researchers last year sailed in small yachts rather than large ice breaking ships.
Scientists say as much as 50 gigatons of methane trapped under the Arctic could be released into the atmosphere if — or when — the protective permafrost completely melts, rapidly speeding up global climate change.
The upshot of this and other climatic developments, according to Dr Hunt, is the need to urgently look at solutions that would otherwise seem unthinkable.
But he is not closed to the very real risk of catastrophe that geoengineering poses, pointing out that there are "hundreds" of potential adverse impacts. Most importantly, there is no "Planet B" if we get it wrong.
"The obvious ones are pumping something up high into the atmosphere and we know so little about the upper atmosphere - whatever we put up there has got to be safe," he said.
"What happens if we screw it all up? What happens if we accidentally switch off the Indian monsoon?"
Besides this, there is the risk the projects do not work at all, or are not as effective as advertised.
But Dr Hunt said this required more research and thought applied to the topic.
"I don't know which is worse - a seven metre sea level rise or geoengineering.
"That's putting it in a very pointed way, but we've got to think hard about this.
"It could be that there should be absolutely no way we ever do this. But that's why we've got to do the research."
Dr Hunt and Dr Wachenfeld spoke at the Climate Adaptation 2018 conference in Melbourne, recorded and broadcast by RN's Big Ideas.
Those alchemist’s apprentices have me quite worried, I wish Dr. Faust and old Paracelsus, Nicolas Flamel, Thomas Norton, etc would come and check them out.
Yeah, that "we don't know what it will do, maybe kill the planet, but we've got to research it anyway" kinda worries me too. There's nothing said that leads me to believe planet-wide or even local geoengineering testing can be done in the exact conditions in which it would be deployed, i.e. our upper atmosphere. A lot of room for failure - gulp! Who was it that said "best intentions often go awry"?
Climate change is over. No, I’m not saying the climate will not change in the future, or that human influence on the climate is negligible. I mean simply that climate change is no longer a pre-eminent policy issue. All that remains is boilerplate rhetoric from the political class, frivolous nuisance lawsuits, and bureaucratic mandates on behalf of special-interest renewable-energy rent seekers.
Judged by deeds rather than words, most national governments are backing away from forced-marched decarbonization. You can date the arc of climate change as a policy priority from 1988, when highly publicized congressional hearings first elevated the issue, to 2018. President Trump’s ostentatious withdrawal from the Paris Agreement merely ratified a trend long becoming evident.
A good indicator of why climate change as an issue is over can be found early in the text of the Paris Agreement. The “nonbinding” pact declares that climate action must include concern for “gender equality, empowerment of women, and intergenerational equity” as well as “the importance for some of the concept of ‘climate justice.’ ” Another is Sarah Myhre’s address at the most recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in which she proclaimed that climate change cannot fully be addressed without also grappling with the misogyny and social injustice that have perpetuated the problem for decades.
The descent of climate change into the abyss of social-justice identity politics represents the last gasp of a cause that has lost its vitality. Climate alarm is like a car alarm—a blaring noise people are tuning out.
This outcome was predictable. Political scientist Anthony Downs described the downward trajectory of many political movements in an article for the Public Interest, “Up and Down With Ecology: The ‘Issue-Attention Cycle,’ ” published in 1972, long before the climate-change campaign began. Observing the movements that had arisen to address issues like crime, poverty and even the U.S.-Soviet space race, Mr. Downs discerned a five-stage cycle through which political issues pass regularly.
The first stage involves groups of experts and activists calling attention to a public problem, which leads quickly to the second stage, wherein the alarmed media and political class discover the issue. The second stage typically includes a large amount of euphoric enthusiasm—you might call it the “dopamine” stage—as activists conceive the issue in terms of global peril and salvation. This tendency explains the fanaticism with which divinity-school dropouts Al Gore and Jerry Brown have warned of climate change.
Then comes the third stage: the hinge. As Mr. Downs explains, there soon comes “a gradually spreading realization that the cost of ‘solving’ the problem is very high indeed.” That’s where we’ve been since the United Nations’ traveling climate circus committed itself to the fanatical mission of massive near-term reductions in fossil fuel consumption, codified in unrealistic proposals like the Kyoto Protocol. This third stage, Mr. Downs continues, “becomes almost imperceptibly transformed into the fourth stage: a gradual decline in the intensity of public interest in the problem.”While opinion surveys find that roughly half of Americans regard climate change as a problem, the issue has never achieved high salience among the public, despite the drumbeat of alarm