Geoengineer my world

Well, well, the American Meteorological Society is now calling for research into geoengineering and new policy to govern the field. This is big news – although surprisingly, the press seems to have responded in a less than excited way, mostly stressing the ‘caution’ element of the new AMS statement. The AMS, the US’s biggest organization of climate scientists, follows the Royal Society in not just daring to speak of geoengineering, but suggesting that it might “provide options” that pick up where adaptation and mitigation efforts have failed.

Just a couple of years ago, it was considered maverick for scientists even to mention geoengineering, and science journalists toed this line. There was (still exists) fear that should people consider miraculous geoengineering cures, they won’t put in the proper adaptation and mitigation efforts, rather like a dieter who learns about stomach stapelling.

But in this new world order, this post-Bush epoch, with India and China on the ascent, the planet’s population faces unprecedented threats: water wars, energy wars, population crises. This new Anthropocene will be dominated by the struggle for resources, for food, water, land and energy as the world’s largest democracy and the world’s largest single-party state develop their economies. The poorest (as well as the richest) of this Earth must hold their breath, cross their fingers, hope that as many of us as can, make it in the next 50 years.

For too long geoengineering has been allowed to remain the preserve of the odd, the agenda-driven, weirdo scientists (with notable exceptions). This, for some reason, has been the curse of the entirety of environmental science – remember when recycling and waste reduction was the preserve of strange nutloaf-baking hippies called Rainbow?

There is no time for this indulgence, the geoengineering field must be led by the ingenious, by the YouTube-creating, iPod-inventing wunderkinds. Of course we need to reduce emissions, help the pooor to adapt and help fund their clean development, but while our species is crippled by its inability or unwillingness to live sustainably (ungreedily), it has evolved a prowess in problem solving, in designing the cleverest solutions to far more complicated problems. Earth is the new Moon, let’s go there!

2 thoughts

  1. Far more dangerous possible complacence permitted by “technical fixes” is the risk of unforeseen consequences. Engineering of all kinds derives its power from specialised expertise, usually to the detriment of “big picture” thinking. For example schemes to alleviate global warming by means of shading (either by ‘space umbrellas’ or atmospheric suspension of particles) would fail to address the issue of acidification of water, and in fact contribute to the phenomenon.

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