Fear, Denial and Geoengineering

I commented recently on an article titled “Fear of Climate Change May Finally Be Trumping Ideological Denial” on Huffington Post. The article, with comments below, can be read here.

My comment drew a reply by bobt755907 that said I “have the makings of a great Science Fiction writer.”

I wish!

I asked bobt755907 to point out the fiction in my original post and he (I presume it’s ‘he’) said to give him facts and he would respond.

I attempted to do that, but my follow-up reply seemed to be too long to post there. So I am posting it here and linking.

My original post there was:

Greenhouse gases are long lived and climate has great inertia. Climate change creates it’s own amplifying loops in melting polar & glacial ice, melting permafrost, warming oceans, wildfires, etc. Fear will unite and motivate us while climate change continues to get worse. Everything we can do to cut emissions and sequester carbon will provide a cure that takes a couple of centuries to show much result. A fearful and suffering global populace will demand quicker action and so motivate governments to turn to geo-engineering to correct the climate. This may well be a greater threat to humanity and the planet than climate change itself. We must resist the temptation to look for a quick fix and guide generations to stay the course. It is a unique challenge in human history.

Support point by point follows.

Greenhouse gases are long lived
C02 50-200 years, methane not so bad at 12 years, N2O 120 years.
source: links from http://epa.gov/climatechange/science/causes.html

climate has great inertia
“Thus it requires centuries for Earth’s surface temperature to respond fully to a climate forcing.”
source: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_16/

Climate change creates it’s own amplifying loops in melting polar & glacial ice, melting permafrost, warming oceans, wildfires, etc.

Feedback loops: Forests:
“Canada’s forests have become carbon sources, releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than they are accumulating in any given year.
Several factors have contributed to this shift. The annual total area burned by wildland fires has increased substantially. Unprecedented insect outbreaks have occurred. And annual harvest rates have shifted dramatically in response to economic demand, increasing in the 1990s and decreasing sharply with the global economic recession.”
source: http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/pages/36

Feedback loops: Sea Ice:
“This results in a positive feedback loop called ice albedo feedback, which causes the loss of the sea ice to be self-compounding.”
source: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/arctic_minimum.html

Feedback loops: Glaciers (etc):
“As glaciers, the polar caps, and in this case, icebergs melt, less sunlight gets reflected into space. It is instead absorbed into the oceans and land, thus raising the overall temperature, and adding energy to a vicious circle.”
source: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2003/1023esuice.html

Feedback loops: Permafrost:
“As the melting caused by a warmer climate could release some of the large amounts of methane now locked into the frozen soil, this might add substantially to the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
source: http://www.ec.gc.ca/eau-water/default.asp?lang=En&n=3E75BC40-1#Section33

Feedback loops: Warming oceans:
“the global average RF of surface waters today appears about one unit higher than the pre-industrial values. Thus, the surface ocean today is less efficient at taking up CO2 than the preindustrial ocean providing a positive feedback.”
source: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/sabi2854/future.shtml

Fear will unite and motivate us while climate change continues to get worse.
“The mental habits that help us navigate the local, practical demands of day-to-day life, they say, make it difficult to engage with the more abstract, global dangers posed by climate change. “
source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/were-all-climate-change-idiots.html

As more people are directly affected, more will look for answers. We don’t respond well to abstractions, but when the problem hits home people start to take action and demand action. One example would be the National Peoples Tribunal on Climate Crisis organized by Oxfam and others in India.

“The Tribunal will send a string message to the COP and world leaders that people are out in the streets to force them to take responsibility and conclude a just and fair deal to arrest these impacts on people who have no role in bringing about this crisis.” [sic]
source: http://www.oxfamindia.org/content/national-peoples-tribunal-climate-crisis

Everything we can do to cut emissions and sequester carbon will provide a cure that takes a couple of centuries to show much result.
“CO2-induced climate change is known to be largely irreversible on timescales of many centuries, as simulated global mean temperature remains approximately constant for such periods following a complete cessation of carbon dioxide emissions while thermosteric sea level continues to rise”
source: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n2/full/ngeo1047.html

A fearful and suffering global populace will demand quicker action and so motivate governments to turn to geo-engineering to correct the climate.
“Concerns were growing that high prices could trigger a food crisis like that in 2008, when food shortages triggered riots in some countries.”
source: http://www.canadiancattlemen.ca/news/u-s-corn-soy-hit-record-highs-stir-food-crisis-fear/1001557437/70svy3Wrq4o4r50sxM2vx/?

“Geoengineering, or the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment, is increasingly being discussed as a potential strategy to counteract anthropogenic climate change.”
source: http://www.ipcc-wg3.de/meetings/expert-meetings-and-workshops/em-geoengineering/

“A small group of leading climate scientists, financially supported by billionaires including Bill Gates, are lobbying governments and international bodies to back experiments into manipulating the climate on a global scale to avoid catastrophic climate change.”
source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/06/bill-gates-climate-scientists-geoengineering

This may well be a greater threat to humanity and the planet than climate change itself. We must resist the temptation to look for a quick fix and guide generations to stay the course.
“If any hypothetical geoengineering program were to fail or be cancelled for any reason, a catastrophic, decade-long spike in global temperatures could result, along with rates of warming 20 times greater than we are experiencing today.”
source: http://carnegiescience.edu/news/geoengineering_quick_fix_big_risks

“If you put CO2 in the atmosphere it has a very long lifetime, and you are basically giving a poison gift to your children. By relying on geo-engineering you are equally putting a burden on future generations to continue those projects — potentially for centuries.”
source: http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~shs/Climate%20change/Geo-politics/Boucher%20geoengineering.html

It is a unique challenge in human history.
I think this goes without saying.

Back to you bobt755907.
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