Friday, April 10, 2009

Obama’s Science Advisor Gets the G Word (Geoengineering) Back in the Headlines

Speaking about his own personal views, President Obama’s chief scientific advisor John Holdren told the Associated Press that geoengineering could not be excluded as a possible option when it comes to addressing the problem of climate change. As reported in The Guardian, Holdren said "It's got to be looked at. We don't have the luxury of taking any approach off the table." With regard to one geoengineering scheme, cloud seeding, which could help cool the earth but also have the undesirable side effect of making the oceans more acidic, Holdren said that “We might get desperate enough to use it.” His attitude seems to be reasonable considering the alternative which is simply to try nothing if we cannot stop the buildup of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and resulting warming. However, how will we know when to try cloud seeding or some other geoengineering scheme? With a lag time of several decades between emissions and their full impact scientists may believe that the point has come long before the general public. Even today that may explain why the climate scientists are having such a difficult time translating their sense of urgency to the public.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"However, how will we know when to try cloud seeding or some other geoengineering scheme?"

I think this one is really easy. We'll need to try one of these out when the temperatures have risen to the point that one or more of the big feedbacks is about or starting to "cook off" - to decrease the temps and get the assocaited feeback(s) under control. This would only make sense if we were already doing whatever we could to get emissions down.

We're one of these big self reinforcing feedbacks be allowed to "cook off", it would take control of this whole warming operation out of our hands (i.e. our emissions driving things) and put it in the hands of the big feedbacks which wouldn't stop until we'd be looking at higher than 6.0C increases (end of civilization).

That possibility, (big feedback takeover), can't be allowed to happen and so we should start vetting these (mostly) crazy ideas to figure out which are best and what their side effects are for when we might need them - so we don't have to do that in an emergency with no time, later.