Sunday, September 9, 2012

Top 10 TED Talks - 9 - a Salient Conversation About Geo-Engineering

Second to last in my personal list of the top 10 TED Talks on Sustainability, we have David Keith, with what is probably the most salient conversation I have seen on the web on the issue of geoengineering (which should really be called macro-climate engineering, but I don't get to pick the words). For those of you new to the conversation, the basic principle of geoengineering is that we could counter the effects of climate change by doing something drastic to the atmosphere, like pumping a lot of sulfur dioxide into the higher levels. SO2 in the stratosphere would reflect light, very much not at all like a bunch of "tiny mirrors," reducing the amount of energy getting into the lower levels of the atmosphere and having a net cooling effect.

Most of the media on geoengineering falls into one of two camps. The first is people in favor of doing it radically and preemptively instead of solving emissions problems (like the Freakonomics guys, who lost all of my respect when they did) and call everyone who disagrees with them wimps and idiots who either can't face or don't grasp the facts.  The second is people who think that any and all geoengineering is basically Jurassic Park, half-assed scientists messing with things they don't understand that are going to get us all eaten by dinosaurs.

The truth, as always, is a whole mess of gray.  Keith, however, lays out some very logical analysis of what it is, how to evaluate if it is a good idea, and raises some very good points e.g. whether or not it is a good idea, shouldn't we at least have an international treaty that says no one country can do it unilaterally?

The fact is that geoengineering is an idea, and ideas don't go away.  So we have to deal with it, like it or not.  And what Keith is arguing for here, essentially, is having a grown up conversation about the idea of messing with things that we don't really, fully understand.


  1. . SO2 in the stratosphere would reflect lig

    Hmm-m-m, as I recall from some 5th grade school physics, it should retain somewhere, or to perform into something. And the "scientifically pocking" question is: where all that SO2 is going to dissipate/disseminate/emulate or transpositate to?
    Unfortunately to all of those who in both camps.
    There is no solution for the following technogenese. None.
    Fear &greed that pumps human "development" in regards of economics and politics will prevent slowing down and/or turning back or injecting "alternative" energy sources.
    We usually and quite politely call those people as a "group of special interest", who will immediately grab, still, compromise any and every efforts to get US OUT of THEIR CONTROL. Bc remember, all of u, energy consumption alternation enthusiasts, THE ENRGY SOURCE is THE POWER.

    As u may see in case of so-called "solar energy". OR better yet, Toyota Prius effect. No they will not going after the inventor and kill him, nope. They will unleash a bunch of lawyers, egg-heads and media to make anything laughable and worthless first. Then when "the inventor" is geting tired they will offer to him/her a "price". Then they will keep it AWAY from anybody and everybody (if its worse of the cose)

    Stop thinking of "publicly viable and affordable" sources. Think why are we here. What for? Is this is so inevitable in ur poorly educated minds, that it just a matter of time that some egg-head will pop with some unidentified source (OK, "newly discovered") of energy for all?
    We are looking into the wrong SIDE of the world. Why honey bees are "dancing" to show their way to food source, why some pigeons use some organic "gps" built into their beaks to fly over freakin Atlantic? Why dolphins do this and whales do that, why ...
    I can go on and on.
    Just think about it as an ESTABLISHED way of sharing this world without destruction. There very balanced harmony in our surroundings, we just away too ignorant and ridiculously enthusiastic in digging the perfect grave for all organisms on this Planet.

    Look at ANY and EVERY piece of grass, bush and tree and think of its purpose. Did u get it? Why ones have needles another leaves? Why some leaves this form and other that? What WAS THE PURPOSE of giving to us ALL of THAT?
    No, we call this The Most Important Science as a "philosophy".
    And who's givin a shit?
    But sooner or later here and there we are started to cry about unfairness and "mighty act of Nature" that punishes us all.
    Picture this: we are altering the most precious organism (the Planet) that being given to us for FREE, just as our high-schoolers dissecting frogs in bio-labs to "see what is inside".
    Instead of understanding these frogs purpose and aesthetically confirm to just another IMPORTANT form of our life, we're "scientifically pocking" around.
    PLease do not tell me about "importance" of the "latest discoveries" that makes our lives "so much pleasurable and easy".
    That is the KEY of our ultimate faults!!!!
    And after all that some "green thinkers" surely do some lectures about another undiscovered span of raping the Planet resources WITHOUT freaking GIVING back A "CENT" to NATURE.
    Everyone is crying that there is massive shortage of fish in oceans. I am going to ask u, my fellow dedicated reader: how many fisheries/fish farms that releasing fish back into the ocean at their early stages, you encounter around the world?
    Any crab nurseries in Alaska, along with those "heroic" deadly catchers (who's, btw, "risking their lives", for ur pleasurable dining experience), my dear "green" enthusiasts?
    Just look at what we are doing to Nature on DAILY bases, and next Morning look at urself in a mirror. Are u feel ashamed?

  2. There's nothing I like more than TED Talks, I'm not an expert on environmental issues but they are a great way to make that sort of information accessible! Thanks for sharing your favourites here.