Geoengineering Books  

Posted by Big Gav in

WorldChanging has a summary of the now expanding field of books about geoengineering (with Jamais Cascio's "Hacking The Earth" being the first one to look at the topic in depth) - Geoengineering Books.

Geoengineering is fast becoming a mainstream debate.
For some, the most worrisome thing about geoengineering is the idea that, once people know about it, they will think of it as a technological quick fix that makes it unnecessary to control emissions of greenhouse gases, an effort everyone takes pains to point out is by far the most important step to be taken now...Still, if geoengineering is not yet an idea whose time has come, it is definitely gaining traction.

So writes Cornelia Dean in the New York Times. She reports on the new books out on geoengineering, including:

* HACK THE PLANET, by Eli Kintisch
* FIXING THE SKY, by James Rodger Fleming
* COMING CLIMATE CRISIS, by Claire L. Parkinson

Additionally, Dean recounts her experience at the Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies and summarizes some the main, critical, political issues largely unaddressed in the geoengineering debate:
Meanwhile, there has been relatively little discussion so far about who would make geoengineering decisions — would the world accept an American president in charge of the decision to go ahead? Assuming we could tune the Earth to a desirable temperature, who would say what that temperature would be? What side effects would be acceptable? Who would be compensated for suffering them. And so on.

I attended the Cambridge meeting Mr. Kintisch describes at the beginning of his book. Afterward, I talked to participants about what it would take to devise and implement any geoengineering plan the world’s wildly diverse people and governments might buy into. And who would regulate it or police any “rogue state,” nonprofit or commercial venture ready to act on its own?

Participants I spoke with were at a loss. “World government,” one of them, finally, offered. The answer does not inspire confidence either.

All the while, humanity is already engaged in a gigantic geoengineering experiment, one that has been under way, however inadvertently, since people started large-scale burning of fossil fuels 150 years ago. So far, the world’s efforts to act together on the problem have been, to be charitable, unimpressive.

The lesson, as all three authors put it, might therefore lie not in figuring out how to “hack the planet” but rather to change things so that planetary hacking will not be needed at all.


The 'sulfur gun' idea is so cheap that Australia could do it. Indeed, if we abolished our States and saved all the legislative duplication of State parliaments, then according to Dr Mark Drummond of "Beyond Federation" we'd save $50 billion dollars, which is exactly what they estimate the sulfur gun would cost.

Without our ridiculous state governments, we could run the sulfur gun for the planet and not even notice a change in lifestyle!

So while I personally am all for a World Government, the geopolitical risk of the sulfur gun is that someone might go it alone. And then who knows? If it works, it might buy us some time. Or it might shut down the Indian monsoon? Who really knows? If climate change looks like it is about to head into dangerous feedback loops and 'runaway', the sulfur gun may just save the planet... while crashing a society here or there. (Like India without the monsoon).

Interesting times indeed!

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