Experiments in geoengineering – intentionally manipulating the Earth’s climate to reduce global warming – have become the focus of a vital debate about responsible science and innovation. This talk by Dr Jack Stilgoe, Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies at University College London, brings the audience up to date with this debate.
To me, geoengineering is an essential part of long term survival.
Long term, supervolcanoes, ice ages, etc are real risks, and require real risk mitigation strategies.
To me, it is clear that we need fully automated robotic production systems, and we need to get them off planet (onto the moon) asap. Once, there, we can use far side moon mass to generate serious geoengineering tools (far side because it has no aesthetic effects as far as earth bound people are concerned). We need serious numbers of mirrors in space to be able to manage solar energy on earth within acceptable parameters. We need serious numbers of deep space monitoring systems to give us time to effectively mitigate risks from comets, meteors and other impactor type events. We need orbiting space stations to allow us to safely experiment with some of the more dangerous things we are playing with (vacuum isolation).
Its a huge topic!
I both agree and disagree with you Ladislav.
Certainly we can do what we reasonably can now, and I do. I chair our region’s Zone Water Committee. We are working with education programs and rules to bring farmers and industry up to the best practices we know about. And some issues will take a long time. Looking at nitrate pollution of groundwater for example, even if we could somehow magically remove all nitrate leeching now, it would take 40 years for that to show up in many of the groundwater systems people are using. Things will get worse before they get better for many. Some geophysical processes are slow like that.
And it is more complex still, because if we can get self sustaining manufacturing going, it changes everything.
It gives us exponential access to the technologies and energy we need to fix these issues that our old technologies have created.
I used the example of space because it is required long term. Large scale volcanism will block most sunlight,and we need the technology in space to mitigate that.
And you are correct, that we have many other issues that are local and immediate – and for many clean water is number one.
And high tech can solve the clean water issue, in several possible ways.
We really have lots of water, we are just using technology and thinking based in exchange values, rather than looking at whole of system effects and optimising systems for overall abundance.
Markets can only value universal abundance at zero – they cannot be incentivised (internally) to deliver universal abundance – yet that is what most people want and need.