Everybody from global warming delayer Bjorn Lomborg to the country’s worst science writer seems to be embracing geo-engineering schemes these days. Geoengineering is “the intentional large scale manipulation of the global environment” to counteract the effects of global warming — such as injecting massive amounts of soot or mirrors into the air.
But why would you choose an experimental combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy that might make you sicker if your doctors told you diet and exercise — albeit serious diet and excercise — would definitely work (see “Geo-engineering remains a bad idea” and “Geo-Engineering is NOT the Answer“)?
Well, desperation drives some people to contemplate extreme things, and climate scientists are increasingly desperate to prevent the catastrophe we face on our current path of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions (see “Desperate times, desperate scientists“).
But why do people who don’t believe anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is real or would be catastrophic push it? Richard S. Courtney, British coal industry flack (see bio here), is one such denier who spreads disinformation on various blogs (including this one today). As BigCityLib informs us, Courtney recently made this remarkable admission:
I am firmly convinced that dangerous AGW is not a problem and cannot become one. However, I do think the possibility of the geo-engineering should be supported. My reason for this is a political ploy and I explain it as follows….
The politicians need a viable reason if they are to back-off from this commitment to the constraints [of GHGs] without losing face.
The geo-engineering option provides the needed viable reason to do nothing about AGW now….
This suggested political ploy is not fanciful and it has precedent. Opponents of the nuclear industry have objected that there is no “safe” method to dispose of nuclear waste. The nuclear industry has responded by asserting that the waste could be vitrified. A practical method for the vitrification still remains to be developed, but assertion of the possibility of the vitrification has been sufficient to overcome objections to nuclear power in several countries for nearly 40 years.
Fool me once….
(See also “Geoengineering and the New Climate Denialism.”)
Geo-engineering remains a dubious set of schemes — literally smoke and mirrors. Science advisor John Holdren told me in April that he stands by his long-standing critique:
“The ‘geo-engineering’ approaches considered so far appear to be afflicted with some combination of high costs, low leverage, and a high likelihood of serious side effects.”
Now uber-delay Bjorn Lomborg is embracing geo-engineering — and NYT‘s John Tierney is flacking that work (here). What a surprise!
RealClimate just published an outstanding response, “A biased economic analysis of geoengineering” by Prof. Alan Robock. Since Robock gave the best talk I ever heard on geo-engineering (here), and since this post is an excellent primer with numerous links, I am reprinting it below (with his permission):