By Lindsay Abrams
Intentional geoengineering is a little different from what we’re doing now, where the climate warming is more of an unintentional byproduct of energy production…
I mean yeah, and that’s arguable in itself — it may have been an unintentional byproduct maybe 100 years ago, but now that we know what carbon does and we’re continuing to burn it I’d say it’s not unintentional anymore. We’re fully culpable for the carbon dioxide we release and for the climate warming that ensues from it. I think we really are geoengineering. We’re changing the acidity of the oceans, and we’re basically doing it deliberately because we know perfectly well — it’s very, very simple science — what the effects of this are, and yet we’re continuing to do it because we’ve made the choice that this cheap, easy energy is worth the climate change that results.
That’s a societal choice that we’ve made. We could equally make the societal choice that, I don’t know, putting in reflective clouds to lower the temperature is worth the risks that that might entail. It might make crops grow more. These are all choices that we have to make; the thing is who’s making the choices and who’s experiencing the effect. That’s a problem, and we haven’t really had those decisions made yet. While we’re deciding, the simple physics means that the earth is already being geoengineered. We’re living in a different world already; this is already the Anthropocene. The climate has already changed. We’re already living in different circumstances where extreme storms are much more likely, where hurricanes and storm surges and erosion are much more likely, where drought is much more likely in certain places and floods are more likely in other places.
While we have to decide what we’re going to do about these situations in the future — Are we happy to live like this? Or do we want to somehow roll it back? Or are we going to adapt? — we have to, at the same time, adapt our everyday living to this changed reality. Are we going to carry on letting people rebuild houses in New Orleans when it’s bound to be flooded again pretty soon? Are we going to just step up the bill for the insurance? We have to make these decisions, and I think this is a really interesting time to be living, because this is a changed world and we have to face things that none of our ancestors faced with the same ability to do anything about it."
I think this is a very honest take on 'our' ongoing fossil fuel-climate change-geoengineering experiment or as Gavin Schmidt put it in a recent twitt "our ongoing grand geophysical experiment".
I think the only thing that would have been even better is if she had also spoken of anthropogenic 'aerosols' emission and not only CO2 so that their, both good and bad, effects and consequences could be fully assessed in the same context. Maybe soon enough.
Attribution of the United States “warming hole”: Aerosol indirect effect and precipitable water vapor
NOAA study: Increase in particles high in Earth’s atmosphere has offset some recent climate warming
Geoengineering’s self-fulfilling prophesies and other rendered moot arguments against research.
Man's great geophysical experiment: can we model the consequences