Forbidden Environmental Fruit

Interesting piece in Foreign Affairs about geoengineering, the idea that we might try to directly re-engineer stuff in the atmosphere to address climate change if we can't get our global act together to reduce carbon emissions in the decades ahead. This has generally been considered fringe stuff with real sci-fi overtones (as well as something no one wants to talk about because if pols think this can really work they'll skip the hard work of actually cutting emissions). So FA's publication of a serious piece making the case for examining this option more fully marks a new moment in the evolving debate methinks. Worth a look.


Blogger Bill Karwin said...

When I was a kid and read about how chlorine and bromine ions persist for decades, destroy the ozone layer in catalytic reactions, I imagined a remedy could be high-altitude weather balloons in the south polar region, carrying charged attractors to "scoop up" these chlorine and bromine ions, like using a net to clean a swimming pool.

I haven't the knowledge of chemistry or aeronautics to know if this is even remotely feasible, but it seemed like a perfectly good sci-fi vision.

I hereby place my idea in the public domain. Anyone who can make use of it, please do so!

March 7, 2009 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger LAToxDoc said...

Not such a far-fetched idea in the eyes of Freeman Dyson (the elegant, prolific, and brilliantly contrarian physicist). His article in the New York Review of Books a few months ago argues that our approach to global climate change should include research on new methods in plant biology that might sequester a lot of carbon. This is not to say that continuing to pump more and more carbon into the air is a good idea. He simply makes the point that the rate at which we "discount" a future environmental catastrophe to net-present-value should itself be discounted by a little optimism about a possible bio-engineering breakthrough.

Definitely worth some research money.
P. Papanek, Los Angeles

March 8, 2009 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Brian Wise said...

This is the same pattern that we see with this generation; Short term success is traded for long term failure. If only someone could step up to the plate...

February 7, 2013 at 9:57 AM  

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