Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Unilateral Geoengineering "The Empire Strikes Back" style

October 20th, 2009


Geoengineering from black helicopters  by James Wimberley 

"1. Because large-scale geoengineering is dangerous, it will only become a live option when emission control efforts have clearly failed and things have reached a crisis: hundreds of thousands dying every year in droughts, hurricanes, coastal floods and so on. The polar bears will already have gone. Whoever does it will need cast-iron political cover against the unforeseen consequences – including the risk of killing millions more.

2. For the same reasons, the measures cannot be national or regional in scale. They will be inherently global in their effects, even if carried out by or in a single country. The political cover accordingly has to be global.

3.  There’s only a little room for experiment – primarily to test engineering feasibility and cost (say of Venetian blinds in space.) There’s so much noise in the climate system that the effects of small-scale pilot projects won’t be properly measurable. It will have to be live or nothing.

4. The knowledge required to manage an emergency global geoengineering scheme is very considerable, and very rapid and expensive action will be essential when things go wrong, as they probably will. Accordingly the scheme cannot be run democratically with any hope of success, only technocratically. Thought experiment: you have a project running on ocean fertilisation with iron in the Pacific. Evidence has come up that this is pumping up the El Niño cycle, with droughts and fires in Australia and the collapse of Peruvian fisheries. Do you suspend or not?"


"In theory the USA could run the geoengineering show alone as an imperial power: and it would provide the bulk of the expertise. But in that case it would assume all the political risks, including excess deaths on a possibly genocidal scale. The initial situation will ex hypothesi be terrible, with mass deaths anyway, and the geoengineers will likely be blamed for these even if they are not in fact responsible. The other problem is the unworkability of the US Constitution for emergencies. A plan like the Manhattan Project is conceivable on a a Presidential, executive basis, but not one that leaves the US Senate with a veto on stuff they and their constituents won’t understand. Would either  the US polity or the rest of the world accept the US President as global climate dictator?"


"Opponents of  rapid and coordinated emissions cuts might think about this. These are clearly near the limit of what can be achieved by conventional intergovernmental cooperation, and maybe beyond it. But if emission control fails, the alternative is something completely different: in this one field, it means (on current knowledge) world government of an extreme and unaccountable type. Try to obstruct the Executive Subcommittee &c? Black helicopters will land on your lawn, disgorging stormtroopers in iridescent camo bearing the spaceship-and sun insignia of the Empire IPCC. You valiantly resist, but they draw their phasers….

My own fear is not that this will happen but that it won’t. The Romans were historically unusual in their willingness to do what was necessary to survive: create war dictators, abandon the republic for an autocracy. The general pattern, documented by Jared Diamond, is to prefer collective suicide to paradigm change."


Unilateral Geoengineering
Non-technical Briefing Notes for a Workshop
At the Council on Foreign Relations
Washington DC, May 05, 2008;postID=5776377726342351631

"The hydrological impacts of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 were measured by 
scientists and provide some insight into the hydrological impacts that might be expected 
to result from geoengineering activities. In the 6-18 months following the Pinatubo 
eruption, there was a substantial decrease in rainfall and river discharge, particularly in 
the tropics.15 
Climate models suggest that similar outcomes would accompany 
geoengineering—decreased precipitation over land (and especially the tropics) and 
increased precipitation over sea.16 Such changes would plausibly raise the risk of major 
droughts in some regions, with possibly large impacts on agriculture and fresh water 
It is unclear how to weigh those highly uncertain impacts against the highly 
uncertain hydrologic impacts of unchecked changes in climate. 
It is also unclear whether one-time injection of particles into the stratosphere by a volcanic eruption is an appropriate analog for the impacts of a steady-state climate geoengineering scheme, under which hydrological cycles would settle into a (perhaps new) pattern. 
Studies of these possible impacts with climate models are still in their infancy, and because 
precipitation is among the most difficult variables to model, may face fundamental limits.
One basic measure of ecological health is net primary productivity (NPP), or the rate of 
biomass production in an ecosystem. Several investigators have used terrestrial 
biosphere models to explore whether geoengineering schemes that increase albedo would 
have a significant impact on global NPP. 
The answer seems to be no, because only a small reduction in solar flux is necessary to counteract warming due to anthropogenic emissions.17 
In fact, a realistic scenario for a geoengineered climate that includes reduced solar flux and doubled atmospheric concentrations of CO2 could actually increase global NPP due to the dominating impact of CO2, fertilization. 
However, since not all plants respond in the same way to increased CO2, there might be differential impact that would advantage some at the expense of others, thus shifting the make-up and balance between species in terrestrial ecosystems." 


Strategic incentives for climate geoengineering coalitions to exclude broad participation
Katharine L Ricke1, Juan B Moreno-Cruz2 and Ken Caldeira1   
2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 014021 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/014021

"These incentives differ markedly from those that dominate international politics of greenhouse-gas emissions reduction, where the central challenge is to compel free riders to participate."

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A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog - Geoingeniería by Oscar and Jocelyn Escobar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Licencia Creative Commons
A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog por Oscar y Jocelyn Escobar se distribuye bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional.