Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Desperate Much?

The NYT ran an article yesterday on some way-out schemes to reverse global warming, including and up to giant orbiting parasols to reflect away the suns heat.

If, in the future, we end up resorting to such desperate measures, someone will have to compare the costs of these schemes to the estimated costs of reducing CO2 emissions sufficiently, had we begun in time. Like the Iraq war, I expect to be proven right.

On the other hand, the fact that the NYT is still writing paragraphs like this:
Geoengineering is no magic bullet, Dr. Cicerone said. But done correctly, he added, it will act like an insurance policy if the world one day faces a crisis of overheating, with repercussions like melting icecaps, droughts, famines, rising sea levels and coastal flooding.
One day? You dumbass, haven't you been to New Orleans lately?

God help me, if the human species survives to 2050 it will be in spite of the media, not because of it.

I should point out that, in my continuing space-nerdery, I actually like the idea of a crash program to develop giant orbiting parasols. To be built, they'd almost certainly need asteroid mines and reusable launch vehicles. That said, I'd prefer to have orbital parasols be entirely unnecesary.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Real Climate has a bunch of points agains this:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/06/geo-engineering-in-vogue/

Gar

Battlepanda said...

Of course, it will surely be a disaster if people saw global warming reversal ideas as a license to keep pumping out the CO2, however, given what you know about positive feedback cycles and the siberian permafrost, aren't you glad that somebody's atleast starting to work on it?

As for framing the cost of the geoengineering projects against the costs of reducing emission now, that's like using the costs of open-heart surgery to deter the junk-food addict who's already made up his mind to keep eating even though he's been warned that he could die.

Ronald Brak said...

I did a back of envelope estimate of how much it would cost to put a sunshield in orbit. Just putting it in orbit would cost more than the United States entire GDP using the cheapest current launching systems.

Even spending 50 billion a year to spread sulphur dioxide high in atmosphere doesn't make economic sense. That much money a year is enough to convert almost all of earth's electrical generating capacity to low emission sources over a period of several decades. If alternative energy souces come down in price as I expect they will, the cost will be even less.

(I'm now going to see what they say about it at Real Climate, Gar.)