Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back-up strategy

Don't Wait for the Lifeboat: A Response to Geoengineering

What's wrong is that we have no real reason to believe that he can, in fact, build a working lifeboat from scratch in time -- or that we can, in fact, intervene in the planet's climate on a vast scale without disastrous consequences -- yet right now, those benefiting from inaction are already using the idea of possible lifeboats as an argument against fighting the fire, so to speak, with the idea being that since cutting emissions is "unrealistic" it's good we have a back-up strategy.

This is not good science, and it's not good science policy. At very least, serious proponents of geoengineering need to acknowledge the severe limitations on our actual knowledge of geoengineering, and point out that emissions reductions are a far more certain and safe approach.


Wildrote said...

I have mixed feelings on Geo-engineering. As a means to prevent a total catastrophe that would radically alter the biosphere, I understand it. As anything but that last resort it goes against everything I know about environmental science and complex systems.

I was taking a professional's course on saltmarsh's and ecosystem tipping points last summer. One of the case studies we looked at was Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, a salt to fresh water marsh ecosystem that, due to years of human intervention, had lost stability and is, I assume, still turning into open water. My point is that while we worked on this case study everyone agreed that there essentially might not be anything that you could do, with any amount of money or materials, to return the system to stable marsh. There are too many variables and they behave in non-linear, unpredictable and interacting ways. This is just a large marsh we are talking about, compared to the whole Earth. I think the unfortunate thing is that to an engineer the Earth can look simpler because it's effectively a closed system, creating the illusion that you don't need to understand the fine details between inputs and outputs to make predictions.

Pardon me for vilifying engineers or potential geo-engineers. I have strong opinions on the topic.


tienda erotica said...

It cannot truly have success, I believe so.