Eli Kintisch - Is Planet-Hacking Inevitable?

April 9, 2010

Host: Chris Mooney

For two decades now, we’ve failed to seriously address climate change. So the planet just keeps warming—and it could get very bad. Picture major droughts, calving of gigantic ice sheets, increasingly dramatic sea level rise, and much more.

Against this backdrop, the idea of a technological fix to solve the problem—like seeding the stratosphere with reflective sulfur particles, so as to reduce sunlight—starts to sound pretty attractive. Interest in so-called “geoengineering” is growing, and so is media attention to the idea. There are even conspiracy theorists who think a secret government plan to geoengineer the planet is already afoot.

Leading scientists, meanwhile, have begun to seriously study our geoengineering options—not necessarily because they want to, but because they fear there may be no other choice.

This week's episode of Point of Inquiry with host Chris Mooney features Eli Kintisch, who has followed these scientists’ endeavors—and their ethical quandaries—like perhaps no other journalist. He has broken stories about Bill Gates’ funding of geoengineering research, DARPA’s exploration of the idea, and recently attended the historic scientific meeting in Asilomar, California, where researchers gathered to discuss how to establish guidelines for geoengineering research.

And now, the full story is related in Kintisch’s new book Hack the Planet: Science’s Best Hope—or Worst Nightmare—for Averting Climate Catastrophe.

Eli Kintisch is a staff writer for Science magazine, and has also written for Slate, Discover, Technology Review, and The New Republic. He has worked as a Washington correspondent for the Forward and a science reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In 2005 he won the Space Journalism prize for a series of articles on private spaceflight. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Related Episodes

Michael Mann - Unprecedented Attacks on Climate Research
February 26, 2010

Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

I listened to the podcast yesterday. I was prepared to jump on Kintisch for ignoring the underlying problem while proposing a “feel-good” solution. I’ll have to listen to the podcast again and take notes to get the quotes right, but fairly early in he said geoengineering to remove greenhouse gases would address the cause of the problem. I slapped my head at this point and said to myself “He doesn’t get it. Emissions are not the cause, using fossil fuels is the cause.” Then later on Kintisch said we should never consider geoengineering unless we reduce our dependence of fossil fuels first.

Yes! He gets it.

Very fine podcast. Balanced and informative. Thanks Chris.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 6:20am by DarronS Comment #1

Well done interview.
Chris Mooney has a lot more info and links on his blog; here using the tag eli-kintisch
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/tag/eli-kintisch/
I’ll put a separate link to the Wired article
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/03/hack-the-planet-excerpt/#more-19685
Or a 2009 article in Atlantic
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/07/re-engineering-the-earth/7552/


Thanks again the enormous amount of pre-work you have put into this to pull the topic into something coherent and understandable.

Here are some ideas that came to me while listening:
1. Chris starts off the interview asking about the most promising approaches—does Kintisch rank these in his book—it seems like there are multiple criteria and some tradeoffs (like cost, immediate impact, “risk”, ability to reverse if necessary, etc.).  For example the first item was plant-more-trees—what are the downsides of this compared to other approaches.  Is the “Pinatubo” option one which is attractive because the effect falls off gradually unless we keep putting particles up in the stratosphere, so it is not risky compared to something we can’t stop.
2. We’ve discussed on the forums that global warming is really a by-product of the human population going from 1-2-4-8+ billion people—of population, “pollution”, and “geo-engineerig”,  do we have to do something in all areas, especially if we can only slow population and pollution and not reverse them.
3.  It was interesting to hear the conspiracy theories relating to geoengineering. This conspiracy stuff adds so much noise to the discussion that when there IS a conspiracy we can’t be sure…  .This is a good example of the generalization of [ Poe’s Law]
4. Thanks to Mooney & Kintisch for bringing up the topic of [ “Superfreakonomics authors wrong on geo-engineering”]—- I had missed this discussion, got the book for Xmas presents, but hadn’t read it myself.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 9:51am by Jackson Comment #2

Hi folks:

Thanks for the interesting in geoengineering and my book, which Chris M, Wired, Bill McKibben, Elizabeth Kolbert and Eric Roston have all praised (see http://hacktheplanetbook.com/reviews/ )

I’ll be answering questions first from this thread:

“Let’s talk about geoengineering”  http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/7415/

and then any others which arise between now and tuesday.

1. does he think geoengineering is inevitable in the long run—even if not needed in the 21st century.
2. Does he think terraforming of Mars or Venus is practical—does he think this is inevitable as well

Inevitable?

Well, one of the big fears is that some of the climate tipping points that I talk about in the book might come faster than we expect, or they happen and we didn’t realize that they started happening, and so at the last minute we try a crash program in geoengineering as politicians panic.

So I don’t think that geoengineering is inevitable, but the worse things get in terms of the climate, the more likely it is that someone is going to try to remove carbon on a mass scale or block sunlight. Obviously, the fear is that unless we know about the repercussions, the more likely it is that we would do something stupid.

Terraforming?
From science which is like science fiction to real science fiction!

Who knows if this is practical, after all, we know far less about the atmosphere of these planets that we do our own, and we have _many_ questions about our own planet’s. So I don’t think it is inevitable. But obviously the worse things get this century on Earth, the more talk there would be about trying to leave. But things would have been really really bad on earth to consider trying to live on planets that are so desolate.

The frightening thing is that human beings don’t like change, and we love our comfortable way of life here in the West. So it could be a combination of tragedy and mere inconvenience that might influence people the future to try something rash like geoengineering before we understand it.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:14am by Eli Kintisch Comment #3

Darron said:
We cannot solve pollution, habitat loss, mass extinctions, rainforest destruction and resource depletion through geoengineering.

The IPCC does a pretty solid job of explaining how global warming exacerbates clean-air, biodiversity, surprisingly sensitive rainforests, and water quality. I’m not saying that geoengineering would fix any problems you mentioned, but limiting temperature change by either sucking up carbon or actually blocking the sun may in fact prevent incredible disasters – we don’t know what the side effects would be.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:16am by Eli Kintisch Comment #4

VYAZMA:
What is the definition of geoengineering in relation to what humankind has already been doing for a few thousand or so years?(especially the last 2-3 centuries)

We did this on the podcast – the difference between making a mess and trying to clean up the mess. That’s not saying we’re going to succeed at cleaning up, Or that it won’t make other problems.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:16am by Eli Kintisch Comment #5

Dougsmith
(1) Is it really feasible in a reasonable timeframe compared with simply abating greenhouse gases themselves?

We have no idea. We’ve done almost no research on geoengineering. We do know that carbon dioxide lasts for many centuries in the atmosphere and that the system has a built-in storable momentum as the oceans warm. Think about the damage of the Arctic right now – if we stopped emitting all greenhouse gases the warming might continue possibly another degree Fahrenheit. That would add to the effects we’ve already seen on the poles and on many ecosystems around the world.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:17am by Eli Kintisch Comment #6

More from Dougsmith:
(2) Will it really abate enough of the ill effects of greenhouse gases to make it worthwhile?

Again, I don’t know.

(3) How do the all-in costs compare with the costs of simply reducing greenhouse gases?

That’s a great question. Using the so-called Pinatubo option could be very very cheap in the short run to implement each year. But since we don’t know how extensive the side effects would be, we cant do a full analysis.

(4) What side effects, if any, would such technology have?
We know that mimicking the cooling effect of sulfate emissions of volcanoes to cool the stratosphere could damage the ozone and lower precipitation around the world. Growing algae blooms could disrupt natural ecosystems, remove oxygen from large swaths of ocean, or actually produce greenhouse gases that would reduce the climate benefit of growing carbonaceous algae blooms.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:27am by Eli Kintisch Comment #7

Jr. Member:
forget geoengineering and start behaving like grown-ups. Sorry, not buying the book

well, I wish we could forget geoengineering. But what if the Chinese do it – I think it’s good for us to know what effects it might have. And if you borrow my book from the library, you’ll see that I definitely agree with you that grown-up behavior would be the best way to deal with this problem.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:28am by Eli Kintisch Comment #8

Jackson:
What is the role of commercial companies in geo-engineering solutions? What does he think is the likely way that geo-engineering solutions would be implemented—are there analogies or precedents to point to?

In chapter 7 of my book I fully delve into this issue. Two for-profit companies, one called Planktos, the other called Climos both received multibillion-dollar investments to try to grow algae blooms at sea. In a way, given that many oceanographers feel these man-made algae blooms might have scientific value, the fact that these were for-profit ventures may have helped doom their chances.

If you google my name and either of these companies’names, you’ll see that I have covered the pretty extensively in the past.

In the future I expect that for-profit companies will play a big role – see Nathan Myrvold’s patent on stratospheric geoengineering schemes – as nations take these wild ideas more seriously.

No analogies I can think of. The scale is just too vast.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:29am by Eli Kintisch Comment #9

Mike from Oz
There are many questions around the technical feasibility of geoengineering, but what are the geopolitical implications if such an endeavour was planned. If a single nation acts unilaterally to “save the planet”, is this a potential flash point for conflict?

Absolutely: see my story on this in Slate: http://www.slate.com/id/2217230/

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:30am by Eli Kintisch Comment #10

thanks for all the questions thus far. Something is, but I probably won’t have time to answer more questions till Wednesday—but if you send them to me after listening to the podcast, I promise I will do so by the middle of next week.

ps—
follow me on twitter @elikint
or the book at facebook.com/pages/Hack-the-Planet/332021854818?ref=ts


Cheers, Eli

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:51am by Eli Kintisch Comment #11

Thanks very much for all the answers, Eli. FWIW, the color blue is actually reserved for Mod/Admin commentary, but in this case I think I’ll just go ahead and leave it as is.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 1:47pm by dougsmith Comment #12

Thank you Eli for these good answers.

Your very informative PoI interview along with the Slate article you linked to: The Politics of Climate Hacking do a great job of bringing this issue up to date for those of us who dismissed it long ago and have ignored it since. 

I myself have the gut feeling that large scale bioengineering would only initiate yet another cascade of unanticipated destructive side-effects.  Your information has reinforced those notions, but it’s good to know where the issue stands these days.

Thank you for all your efforts to inform us.

Peter m

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 4:38pm by citizenschallenge Comment #13

Darron said:
We cannot solve pollution, habitat loss, mass extinctions, rainforest destruction and resource depletion through geoengineering.

The IPCC does a pretty solid job of explaining how global warming exacerbates clean-air, biodiversity, surprisingly sensitive rainforests, and water quality. I’m not saying that geoengineering would fix any problems you mentioned, but limiting temperature change by either sucking up carbon or actually blocking the sun may in fact prevent incredible disasters – we don’t know what the side effects would be.

Eli, you covered my concern in the podcast interview, and your answer here is good too. The one thing that you did not mention and I keep hammering is that nothing we do will make a bit of difference if we do not address our overpopulation problem. We cannot sustain our population, and if we do not bring down our numbers voluntarily resource depletion will do so forcibly. We can educate people about the problen, discuss how to manage the population drawdown and implement sustainable solutions, or we can do nothing and watch our population diminish tragically. The time to begin was 30 years ago, so we had better get serious about this issue.

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 8:50pm by DarronS Comment #14

Darron said:
We cannot solve pollution, habitat loss, mass extinctions, rainforest destruction and resource depletion through geoengineering.

The IPCC does a pretty solid job of explaining how global warming exacerbates clean-air, biodiversity, surprisingly sensitive rainforests, and water quality. I’m not saying that geoengineering would fix any problems you mentioned, but limiting temperature change by either sucking up carbon or actually blocking the sun may in fact prevent incredible disasters – we don’t know what the side effects would be.

Eli, you covered my concern in the podcast interview, and your answer here is good too. The one thing that you did not mention and I keep hammering is that nothing we do will make a bit of difference if we do not address our overpopulation problem. We cannot sustain our population, and if we do not bring down our numbers voluntarily resource depletion will do so forcibly. We can educate people about the problen, discuss how to manage the population drawdown and implement sustainable solutions, or we can do nothing and watch our population diminish tragically. The time to begin was 30 years ago, so we had better get serious about this issue.

WOW my father, who was a population activist in the 1970’s, would LOVE your comment! Will forward and invite him to comment!

Posted on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:25pm by Eli Kintisch Comment #15

I myself have the gut feeling that large scale bioengineering would only initiate yet another cascade of unanticipated destructive side-effects.  Your information has reinforced those notions, but it’s good to know where the issue stands these days.

Certainly possible, though my sense is that abating greenhouse gases is going to be such an enormous political problem that it’s best to attack it from as many different angles as possible. If geoengineering proves politically palatable, and if it looks to be plausible on a reasonable cost/benefit analysis, then I think it should be one of many avenues we pursue. But certainly, as Eli clearly said, not to the detriment of abating the production of the gases themselves.

To put it another way, I expect it will be politically impossible to abate greenhouse gas production to the extent necessary to avoid detrimental impacts of global warming. For one thing, with the chinese and indian economies growing rapidly, they will not be looking to decrease their production of CO2 anytime soon; indeed, it is politically inevitable that their production of CO2 will increase for the foreseeable future.

So although we may work very hard to abate CO2 production generally, we simply must also look to methods for soaking it up from the atmosphere, or for other methods of geoengineering, in the meanwhile. I’m speaking as a political realist here ...

Posted on Apr 11, 2010 at 7:56am by dougsmith Comment #16

I’m going to be blogging about the show this week, and a question has already arisen for me about the “defintion” of geoengineering that we’re using—and in particular, why we’re grouping carbon removal techniques and sunblocking techniques under the same rubric. More here:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/04/11/blogging-the-eli-kintisch-point-of-inquiry-show-i-a-quibble-concerning-the-definition-of-geoengineering/

thoughts?

chris

Posted on Apr 11, 2010 at 2:14pm by CMooney Comment #17

I’m going to be blogging about the show this week, and a question has already arisen for me about the “defintion” of geoengineering that we’re using—and in particular, why we’re grouping carbon removal techniques and sunblocking techniques under the same rubric. More here:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/04/11/blogging-the-eli-kintisch-point-of-inquiry-show-i-a-quibble-concerning-the-definition-of-geoengineering/

thoughts?

chris

on the blog Eli suggests reforestation is a problem not because it wouldn’t work but because of side issues a la ethanol.  If it is efficient (maybe that’s the issue—is it 500,000 trees, 500 million, or 500 billion) one would try not to use prime arable land that we need for food but there is still a lot of land….

The other idea that burning forests and then replanting is a net plus is really counterintuitive.

Posted on Apr 11, 2010 at 6:31pm by Jackson Comment #18

My next gripe—is “don’t play God” really a legitimate objection to geoengineering?

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/04/12/blogging-the-kintisch-point-of-inquiry-show-part-ii-is-it-reasonable-to-fear-playing-god/

cm

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 6:44am by CMooney Comment #19

My next gripe—is “don’t play God” really a legitimate objection to geoengineering?

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/04/12/blogging-the-kintisch-point-of-inquiry-show-part-ii-is-it-reasonable-to-fear-playing-god/

cm

“Don’t play God” is really less an objection than an epithet. Presumably all it means is something like, “Don’t do something very big and important.” But we’ve already done something very big and important simply by reproducing and covering the planet, not to mention pumping masses of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Arguably any plan we hatch to solve this problem will of necessity be very big and important.

Further, there’s no argument I can see from the fact of something’s being big and important to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with it. Some big, important things are, on balance, good. Though it is true that there are always costs to any benefit: tens of thousands die on our roads every year—one of the costs of having cars. (Not to mention the greenhouse gases they produce!) The answer isn’t to assume that cars are a mistake; they have enormous benefits as well. But we must learn better how to mitigate the costs ...

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 7:07am by dougsmith Comment #20

Hi Chris,

You had a much tighter back-and-forth between you and and your interviewee this go-round. Nice work. Your demeanor is good.

I would, however, urge you to branch out and away from topics that touch on climate change. You’re comin’ off like a one trick pony. I don’t have a problem with your take on the issue; I’m just plain tired of the topic, even when it’s not the focus of the podcast. Yes, it’s important, but I’m saturated, numb and irritated by it.

You’ve got a background in some other very interesting topics that I’d like to hear more about. You could talk about church-state separation issues regarding ongoing faith-based initiatives; the FDA and alternative medicine; where we are on stem cell research policies; or what about those chimeras? Or in broader terms, how about science attitudes by demographic (and perhaps over time); science education variations state by state or nation by nation? Surely there’re experts in all of these areas just waiting for your call!

Best,
Jordan

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 11:28am by Jordan Comment #21

Hi Chris,

You had a much tighter back-and-forth between you and and your interviewee this go-round. Nice work. Your demeanor is good.

I would, however, urge you to branch out and away from topics that touch on climate change.

I guess I can see where you’re coming from. . .

But, I was just getting ready to ask Chris Mooney if you could at some point do a show reviewing the results of the various ClimateGate investigations going on and being finished. (such as, U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee investigation)

Why?  Because, after months of being flooded & bludgeoned with contrarian nonsense and lies, the reports are vindicating the scientists and science - but the media seems to have heard your pain and decided not to do much reporting on it,
and in my own opinion that’s a big shame.

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 11:45am by citizenschallenge Comment #22

Hi citizenschallenge,

That is indeed frustrating. Mainstream media by and large did indeed drop the ball. But Mann’s interview already to some extent offered the vindication you are looking for. I just don’t see a further push on this topic as worthwhile. There’s plenty of BS to bust up in other topics. :-)

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 12:06pm by Jordan Comment #23

I’ve been thinking about your comment Jordan, and I can understand it and don’t belittle it at all.

People have their learnable moments and a constant drum beat doesn’t lend to enabling those “windows of opportunity.”

We all have different thresholds and I’ll admit I’m part of the hopelessly engaged when it comes to wanting to present the AGW issue, thus I do tend to push it.

But you know, one of the things that constantly stimulates my ‘enthusiasm’ when dialoguing with intelligent climate contrarians.  That whole disconnect with information that they accept and trumpet - then the total oblivion to information that disputes them. 
Be it “There’s not enough proof CO2 is the major driver” “scientists believed in a global cooling” “the hockey stick graph bit” and on and on.

It’s beyond the AGW issue itself, it’s that wrestling with reality vs. ones self created myth/faith.  Evolution being the same identical situation.  I image what the hard cores fear the most about accepting the reality of climate change, is that Faith will topple like dominoes, first AGW, then Evolution, then the perfection of their Holy Book, then faith in God on His Throne, ... then these folks will be left in the maelstrom of simply existing - it scares the hell out of them. 
For me I enjoy those lessons of life and science that totally turn around one’s current perception, following by digestion and a new deeper appreciate of the world I have these few moments to experience.    by i digress, perhaps another post another time.

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 1:59pm by citizenschallenge Comment #24

Mike from Oz
There are many questions around the technical feasibility of geoengineering, but what are the geopolitical implications if such an endeavour was planned. If a single nation acts unilaterally to “save the planet”, is this a potential flash point for conflict?

Absolutely: see my story on this in Slate: http://www.slate.com/id/2217230/

Thanks Eli, this was the very thing that came to mind when I first heard about geo-engineering, I’ll read the article.

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 2:08pm by Mike from Oz Comment #25

Just listened. Firstly, a great interview. Eli had a great grasp of the topic, and I learnt a great deal in those 30 minutes. I’ll be tracking down the book.

The thought did strike me that in the coming decades this will become a far more mainstream topic: at some point major politicians will start muting it as a *possible* option. Given how we have consistently failed to address emissions, I agree this could be viewed as the necessary “technological quick fix”. With this in mind, some experiments are already taking place (viz the Russian and German ones discussed in the podcast).

Eli pointed me to another article of his on the geo-political implications: if one nation acts unilaterally, it could pave the way for conflict.

My first thoughts are how can this technology be regulated? Through multilateral and unilateral treaties? Through a global convention? And given that many of these treaties lack sanctions, how is it possible to enforce them?

Will the fact that many nations have a nuclear capability deter others from others (while perhaps also making those with them feel immune to pursue geoengineering)?

While nuclear conflict nearly happened on several occasions during the Cold War, there is an argument that “mutually assured destruction” (MAD) may have prevented war, acting as sufficient deterrent to the great powers.

That is: if Russia contemplates geoengineering, they may be deterred by the thought of the US, China and/or India could respond with force. That may be sufficient to deter them?.

Actually, when I think about it - the west Asian quadrangle of India/Pakistan/Russia/China is a powder keg. All these states are highly vulnerable to climate change, and all have a nuclear capability.

Is this climate changes MAD? Perhaps game theory explains this better?

More questions here than answers, but that is what the podcast prompted.

I’ll be looking into the issue far more seriously (no doubt will filter through to my blog)

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 2:28pm by Mike from Oz Comment #26

Citizenschallenge,

I appreciate your enthusiasm. Despite my climate change fatigue, what I would enjoy hearing would be an intelligence-squared style debate, or an interview with an AGW-denier scientist, or yet, get a proponent to ask a question of the opponent, who would in turn would answer then ask a question of the proponent, and so on, with Chris (or a more neutral party?) moderating.

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 2:37pm by Jordan Comment #27

Just listened. Firstly, a great interview.

[NB: I deleted another thread with the same content as this post. Please avoid posting substantially identical material in more than one place on the Forum, as per rule 3(b).]

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 2:55pm by dougsmith Comment #28

Just listened. Firstly, a great interview.

[NB: I deleted another thread with the same content as this post. Please avoid posting substantially identical material in more than one place on the Forum, as per rule 3(b).]

Thanks - got posted by mistake. I was gonna come back to suggested killing it :)

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 6:20pm by Mike from Oz Comment #29

Citizenschallenge,

I appreciate your enthusiasm. Despite my climate change fatigue, what I would enjoy hearing would be an intelligence-squared style debate, or an interview with an AGW-denier scientist, or yet, get a proponent to ask a question of the opponent, who would in turn would answer then ask a question of the proponent, and so on, with Chris (or a more neutral party?) moderating.

I’m not sure we’d gain anything:

Scientists: AGW is happening, the evidence…

Denier: Evidence! What evidence!

Not sure we need to question basic science. There are lots of resources out there that explain the science (see Skeptical Science) that have point-by-point refutations of the “sceptical” arguments.

Surely we can move more onto the discussion of mitigation and adaptation? We should be moving onto the mature phases of the debate, not remain stuck on the basics of the science.

That’s why I’ve been enjoying Chris’s recent episodes. It’s about “what’s next”....

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 6:33pm by Mike from Oz Comment #30

Hi Everyone,
Thanks for all the comments. I assure you, my next show will have NOTHING to do with climate change!

cm

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 8:05pm by CMooney Comment #31

Citizenschallenge,

I appreciate your enthusiasm. Despite my climate change fatigue, what I would enjoy hearing would be an intelligence-squared style debate, or an interview with an AGW-denier scientist, or yet, get a proponent to ask a question of the opponent, who would in turn would answer then ask a question of the proponent, and so on, with Chris (or a more neutral party?) moderating.

Oh buddy am I with you there.

I have been trying to get one of those initiated in the worst way, but the candidates keep disappearing on me.
(Don’t get me wrong I have no illusion about being some expert or anything, but I am knowledgeable and I know where to go for additional information, and I’m still looking for an honest skeptic who doesn’t run away.)

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 at 10:01pm by citizenschallenge Comment #32

My latest blog post on this topic—why we should by Kintisch’s and Goodell’s new geoengineering books, and save the reading public from the Superfreaks!

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/04/13/the-great-geoengineering-publishing-smackdown-of-2010/

cm

Posted on Apr 13, 2010 at 10:09am by CMooney Comment #33

Thanks Chris, and I made the mistake of reading Superfreaks: the chapter on global warming was dismal. They where rightly criticised for there errors.

Posted on Apr 13, 2010 at 1:53pm by Mike from Oz Comment #34

Thanks Chris and Eli, this was one scary podcast I really enjoyed. It was very informative. Chris, I don’t mind that it was another podcast on AGW, it has become the problem of the century…at least. But I would not object to another subject. :)

Posted on Apr 15, 2010 at 2:50am by asanta Comment #35

Well folks ?

What about that Icelandic volcano?

A fresh experiment is underway. 

Bioengineering Lab 2010,  earth leading the way. 
Will we twist and distort what we witness, or might we actually learn something?

The game is a foot ! ! !

:coolsmirk:  :coolsmile:  :coolgrin:

Posted on Apr 15, 2010 at 10:10pm by citizenschallenge Comment #36

Jeff Goodell author of “How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate” was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air.  4-15-10

The idea that geoengineering can combat global warming is a controversial one, fraught with scientific uncertainties and ethical issues. In his new book, How to Cool the Planet, Jeff Goodell explains that there are certainly some good reasons to be reluctant to tinker with the Earth’s climate—but there are also some very good reasons to take the idea seriously. . .

“Interest in Geoengineering is driven less by mad scientists than by spineless politicians…”

Goodell seemed to be making many of the same points Kintisch was.

Posted on Apr 16, 2010 at 4:43am by citizenschallenge Comment #37

Well folks ?

What about that Icelandic volcano?

A fresh experiment is underway. 

Bioengineering Lab 2010,  earth leading the way. 
Will we twist and distort what we witness, or might we actually learn something?

The game is a foot ! ! !

:coolsmirk:  :coolsmile:  :coolgrin:


Guys over at Hot-Topic-Nz have a good overview with links on issue: addressing “will it result in cooling”:

http://hot-topic.co.nz/an-eyeful-of-eyjafjallajokull-no-cooling-threat-yet/

Posted on Apr 16, 2010 at 5:26am by Mike from Oz Comment #38

Jeff Goodell author of “How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate” was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air.  4-15-10

And this week Public Radio International has
[ Scott Barett at world-science.org with an interview on geoengineering]
Notes on the www site link to Kintisch as well as a Scientific American article
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=geoengineering-how-to-cool-earth

Posted on Apr 16, 2010 at 6:41pm by Jackson Comment #39

The word hacking comes from the world of computers, which are as different from the natural world and the planetary system as a robot differs from a human being.  A “hack”, performed on a program, can be a clever, elegant innovation, or a clumsy, kludgy workaround.  Hacks are quick fix.  The idea is to avoid the fundamental rethink involved when creating something from scratch.  There is a definite aura of fun around many uses of the word.  To get a good idea of the culture that created this usage of the word, read “The Hackers Dictionary”. 

The idea that performing an emergency planet scale experiment because the consequences of climate change have become so unbearable that people have become ready to try anything as a quick fix, such as an inherently untestable until first use at full scale scheme such as any that these “geoengineers” have come up with should be cheerfully called “planet hacking”, as if there was an element of fun to it, offended me repeatedly, as the word was shoved in my face throughout the book.

Was this book actually written with no discussion of ocean acidification?  I am about half way through, and I can’t believe it.  What, the scientists studying geoengineering don’t talk about it?

Posted on Apr 19, 2010 at 1:03pm by David Lewis Comment #40

Good question… I’ve ordered book so can’t comment.

Anyone else?

Posted on Apr 19, 2010 at 4:51pm by Mike from Oz Comment #41

And now, the full story is related in Kintisch’s new book Hack the Planet: Science’s Best Hope—or Worst Nightmare—for Averting Climate Catastrophe.

Two climate books reviewed in 26 Nov 2010 Science by Kevin Trenbeth:
(1) this one Hacking the Planet
(2) “The Climate Fix” by Pielke which Trenbeth critques seriously.
AAAS site. If I find open access I’ll post
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6008/1178.summary
Discussion of Pielke’s complaints about the review…
http://wottsupwiththat.com/2010/11/27/pielke-jr-on-trenberth’s-book-review/

This was the issue the kitty lapping milk on the cover
http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/11/12/the-incredible-science-behind-the-the-drinking-kitty/


My transcription of a couple paragraphs———-will come back and edit typos later—-:
....

Whereas Pielke’s account tend to minimiz the reisk assoicated with climate change,k Kintisch’s very readable bookd emphasizes them.  Each chapter opens with an example of past humanattempts to forge geoengineering solutions to various kinds of prolems, ew of which were successful.  The esscence of geoengineering is not to attempt to directly forestall the problem but rather to implement alternative devies to deal with the symptoms.  The difficulty with this approach is thateven when it proves possible to alleviate the immediate predicament, ther are often unintended consequences andside effets that could prove even worse than the orignail problem.

...

Unfortunately, The Climate Fix often toys with the truth and uses highly selective evidence to bolster its case, furthrer politicizing climate change science.  Readers of Hack the Planet will gain a better understanding of teh severe challenges posed by anthropogenic changes to Earth’s climate

Posted on Dec 12, 2010 at 2:51pm by Jackson Comment #42