Eduardo Orue

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Geoengineering: should we do it? should we not? we need a broad debate.

David Keith, during his talk in 2007, brought up a couple of interesting approaches toward the climate change issues we've been discussing for the past 20-something years. Its been discussed on blogs but I wanted to bring it here, and I wanted to bring it into a 2011 context where more knowledge and information on climate change and global warming has been floating around..

What are your thoughts on climate engineering? what of the moral hazard? We need some reasons in support and some against to be discussed, we need to discuss what the implications of those thoughts are, as well as those of climate control in general. David Keith encourages us to talk about it, not just the experts, but also the philosophers, the writers, the musicians, everybody. A broad debate has been deemed necessary.

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    Apr 19 2011: Aren't we already doing geoengineering by dumping millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere? We don't really know how that's going to turn out. We have only a partial knowledge of how climate and global ecosystmes work. The models for predicting outcomes are incomplete. Seems to me the chances that geoengineering resulting in unintended and unexpected consequences are very high. All we'd be doing is adding yet another variable into an extremely complex system that already has many, many variables. I don't think we know enough to do engineering, just experimentation.

    p.s.: Good cautionary TED speech: Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong,
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      Apr 19 2011: I fully agree!! Most geo-engineering projects require a full-time committment - for example an entire fleet of boats 'trawling' the Pacific churning up sea-mist so that the albedo of the earth marginally increases...

      As with injecting anything additonal into the atmosphere such as sulphur, recent research shows that we would need to inject the same amount as 1 Mt Pinatubo eruption per/year....for substantial decreases in global temperature...The after effects aren't documented....and atmospheric chemistry is a difficult science.

      The moral committment is to ensure the billions who haven't contributed to global warming and climate change are substantially compensated and assisted to deal with its effects...
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    Apr 19 2011: So I understand there are various Geoengineering strategies, many test going on, much funding going to various groups and many projects. And I believe there will always be unaccounted-for consequences to such extreme methods, no matter how much depth of knowledge we have on the subject. So yes, the risks are high. The scale we're working with is just so large, and it affects more than just the climate.

    Obviously, we wouldn't rush into action with something like this, a lot of this is still experimental as you say, but it is clear there will be risks, regardless. So I bring this to the table: if other methods aren't working, if emissions won't decrease as we need them to, what then? Do we take the risks? We might reach a point where we need to buy ourselves some time, is that what we're waiting for?

    (I haven't a solid view on the matter, nor am I extremely knowledgeable, but I'm eager to see what people have to say about it, especially those who know more.)