Monday, January 5, 2015

Naomi Klein On SRM Geoengineering in her book "This Changes Everything"

 A book excerpt from:
Capitalism vs. The Climate                                                 

By Naomi Klein
Published by Simon & Schuster (Official page)
Chapter 8
The Solution to Pollution Is . . . Pollution?

"Geoengineering holds forth the promise of addressing global warming concerns for just a few billion dollars a year." —Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
2008 [1]

"Our science is a drop, our ignorance a sea." 
—William James, 1895 [2]

It's March 2011 and I have just arrived at a three-day retreat about geoengineering in the Buckinghamshire countryside, about an hour and a half northwest of London. The meeting has been convened by the Royal Society, Britain's legendary academy of science, which has counted among its fellows Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Stephen Hawking.

In recent years, the society has become the most prominent scientific organization to argue that, given the lack of progress on emission reduction, the time has come for governments to prepare a technological Plan B. In a report published in 2009, it called upon the British government to devote significant resources to researching which geoengineering methods might prove most effective. Two years later it declared that planetary-scale engineering interventions that would block a portion of the sun's rays "may be the only option for reducing global temperatures quickly in the event of a climate emergency."[3]...

Warming Up to "Horrifying" 
Schemes for deliberately intervening in the climate system to counteract the effects of global warming have been around for half a century at least. In fact, when the President's Science Advisory Committee issued a report warning Lyndon B. Johnson about climate change in 1965, the authors made no mention of cutting emissions. The only potential solutions considered were technological schemes like modifying clouds and littering oceans with reflective particles.[9]...

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? 
After a night's sleep, the guests at Chicheley Hall are ready to dive into the debates. In a sleek slate-and-glass lecture hall located in the old coach house, the organizers separate the group into breakout sessions. Everyone receives a sheet of paper with a triangle on it, and on each point is a different word: "Promote," "Prohibit," "Regulate." The instructions say "Mark where you feel your current perspective best fits on the triangle." Do you want further research into sun-shielding banned? Aggressively promoted? Promoted with some measure of regulation?...

Like Climate Change, Volcanoes Do Discriminate 
Boosters of Solar Radiation Management tend to speak obliquely about the "distributional consequences" of injecting sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, and of the "spatial heterogeneity" of the impacts. Petra Tschakert, a geographer at Penn State University, calls this jargon "a beautiful way of saying that some countries are going to get screwed."" But which countries? And screwed precisely how?...

History as Teacher—and Warning 
Without being able to rely on either models or field tests, only one tool re-mains to help forecast the risks of sun blocking, and it is distinctly low-tech. That tool is history, specifically the historical record of weather patterns following major volcanic eruptions. The relevance of history is something all sides of the debate appear to agree on. Ken Caldeira has described the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo "as a natural test of some of the concepts underlying solar radiation management" since it sent so much sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. And David Keith assured me, "It's pretty clear that just putting a lot of sulfur in the stratosphere isn't terrible. After all, volcanoes do it." Likewise, Lowell Wood, Myhrvold's partner in the invention of the StratoShield, has argued that because his hose-to-the-sky would attempt to imitate a natural volcano, there is "a proof of harmlessness."[32] 
Levitt and Dubner have stressed the relevance of historical precedent most forcefully, writing in SuperFreakonomics that not only did the earth cool after Pinatubo, but "forests around the world grew more vigorously because trees prefer their sunlight a bit diffused. And all that sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere created some of the prettiest sunsets that people had ever seen." They do not, however, appear to believe that history offers any cautionary lessons: aside from a reference to the "relatively small" number of deaths in the immediate aftermath of the eruption due to storms and mud slides, they make no mention in the book of any negative impact from Pinatubo.[33]...

Geoengineering as Shock Doctrine 
All of this may still seem somewhat abstract but it's critical ta reckon with these harrowing risks now. That's because if geoengineering were ever deployed, it would almost surely be in an atmosphere of collective panic with scarce time for calm deliberation. Its defenders readily concede as much....

Monster Earth 
Not all geoengineering advocates dismiss the grave dangers their work could unleash. But many simply shrug that life is full of risks—and just as geoengineering is attempting to fix a problem created by industrialization, some future fix will undoubtedly solve the problems created by geoengineering....

Have We Really Tried Plan A? 
On day two of the geoengineering retreat at Chicheley Hall, a spirited debate breaks out about whether the U.N. has any role to play in governing geoengineering experiments. The scientists anxious to get their field tests off the ground are quickest to dismiss the institution, fearing an unwieldy process that would tie their hands. The participants from NGOs are not quite ready to throw out the institution that has been the primary forum for climate governance, flawed as it is.
Just when things are getting particularly heated, there is a commotion outside the glass doors of the lecture hall....

The Astronaut's Eye View 
There is a photograph from the day Richard Branson launched his $25 million Virgin Earth Challenge that keeps popping into my head at the geoen-gineering retreat. Branson, dressed in black, has a big grin on his face and he is gleefully tossing a plastic model of Planet Earth into the air as if it were a beach ball. Al Gore, looking unsure about whether this is a good idea, is standing by his side.[56] 
This frozen moment strikes me as the perfect snapshot of the first incarnation of the climate movement: a wealthy and powerful man with the whole world literally in his hands, promising to save the fragile blue planet on our behalf. This heroic feat will be accomplished, he has just announced, by harnessing the power of human genius and the desire to get really, really rich. 
Pretty much everything is wrong with that picture. The reinvention of a major climate polluter into a climate savior based on little more than good PR. The assumption that dangling enough money can solve any mess we create. And the certainty that the solutions to climate change must come from above rather than below....

My comment O.E.
I liked this take on geoengineering by Naomi Klein. I think it is a great addition to the geoengineering debate.

She makes many strong points, regarding various forms 'technological lock-ins', 'climate justice', risk and the 'slippery slope' argument.  This last one a very important main point.  I disagree with her 'no research' stand. My opinion is that we should research geoengineering not from a future deployment perspective, but from a 'we are already 'geoengineering' the global climate not unlike SRM via our aviation and shipping sulphur emissions perspective. And so, how 'climate-unjust' are these emissions, and how can we stop, are there good plausible options i.e. biofuels, offsets, etc?

I guess we could soon find an answer since recently (Jan 1, 2015) new lower sulfur fuel requirements 'in controlled areas' for shipping entered in effect.

"Ships trading in designated emission control areas will have to use on board fuel oil with a sulphur content of no more than 0.10% from 1 January 2015, against the limit of 1.00% in effect up until 31 December 2014."
But the current limit for sulphur content of fuel oil will continue to be a staggeringly high 3.50% until 2020 or 2025 outside of the controlled areas.

Ships face lower sulphur fuel requirements in emission control areas from 1 January 2015  (IMO)
Off topic:

A couple of  interesting questions for me on the fuel issue: 
How will this emissions be mitigated?  
Will the use of scrubbers instead of lower sulphur fuels lead to increased coastal ocean acidification?

Updated March 27, 2015
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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.