Why climate change skeptics are backing geoengineering


EXCERPT: . . . In 2009, John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s science adviser, drew backlash after telling an Associated Press reporter that geoengineering has “got to be looked at.” But since Trump took office, advocates of geoengineering research say the political climate for such tactics has warmed. [...] Harvard University physics professor David Keith, “there’s much more broad support for this than there was just two years ago.”

[...] The increasing interest in geoengineering, including from climate change skeptics, owes partly to growing pessimism about humanity’s capacity – and political will – to ward off the worst effects of climate change without some major technological breakthrough. [...] Several Trump allies are considerably more gung-ho, with some explicitly portraying geoengineering as a cheap alternative to radically transforming a U.S. economy that is still about 80 percent dependent on fossil fuels. “Instead of forcing unworkable and costly government mandates on the American people, we should look to technology and innovation to lead the way to address climate change,” Rep. Lamar Smith chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said at last fall’s hearing.

[...] For several years, conservative think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution and The Heartland Institute, have taken a similarly paradoxical position, challenging established climate science while promoting geoengineering. Scholars working for the American Enterprise Institute’s Geoengineering Project have touted the strategy as “a revolutionary approach to climate change.”

Over the past several years, scientists and entrepreneurs throughout the world have proposed more than a dozen different kinds of geoengineering projects. One would send 16 trillion tiny robots into space to deflect the sun’s rays from the Earth. Another would build millions of wind-powered pumps in Arctic waters to push freezing water over the ice to thicken it. The “cloud-brightening” scheme praised by Weber last fall envisions shooting salt water into marine clouds to improve their reflective power.

These aren’t even the most radical ideas. Back in 1993, an Indian physicist considered whether the Earth could be cooled by somehow increasing the radius of the planet’s orbit around the sun. And in a widely condemned operation in 2012, a rogue California businessman conducted the world’s largest geoengineering project to date by dumping 100 tons of iron dust into the Pacific Ocean. His goal was to fertilize plankton to absorb carbon dioxide and then sell “credits” to fossil fuel firms.

Solar radiation management proposals, such as the cloud-brightening strategy and the Harvard aerosol-spraying plan, have attracted the most interest from U.S. politicians, even as they’ve caused alarm among leading climate scientists.  

[...] Harvard’s Keith, whom Time magazine honored in 2009 as a “hero of the environment,” gives voice, often simultaneously, to the world’s fears and hopes for geoengineering. In the span of a single conversation with comedian and TV host Stephen Colbert in 2013, he called geoengineering “ugly” and “horrifying” but also said, “It might actually save people and be useful.”

Many scientists warn that the longer politicians ignore other strategies, the more likely society eventually will need to make the hard choice to try geoengineering. Still, Keith said he is unnerved by climate change skeptics’ recent embrace of geoengineering. “In some ways,” Keith said at a conference last fall, “the thing we fear the most is a tweet from Trump, saying, ‘Solar geoengineering solves everything! It’s great! We don’t need to bother to cut emissions.’”...

MORE: https://www.revealnews.org/article/why-c...gineering/

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