Monday, May 20, 2013

#140 / Hack The Sky

Global warming and climate change are serious concerns, and both can be attributed to the actions of human beings. It is our own human actions that have caused, and that are continuing to cause, the global warming problems we face. What we are doing in "our world" is leading to adverse impacts in the World of Nature, upon which all life on Earth depends. Since the problems that have been generated in the World of Nature have been caused by human activity, the elimination of these problems requires that we change the human activity that has caused them.

Most obviously, we need to change what we are doing by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. This means, most basically, reducing our combustion of hydrocarbon fuels. Groups like are urging that human beings do just that, and undertake immediate steps to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. The State of California has enacted comprehensive legislation to achieve such greenhouse gas reductions (AB 32, the "Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006"), which mandates that Californians take actions that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels, by the year 2020. A plan to achieve those reductions is now in place, pursuant to the mandate of AB 32. Implementation efforts are just getting underway.

Meantime, some people have already given up on the idea that we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions enough to make a difference. They suggest a different approach; namely, to start "geoengineering" the planet. Click right here, if you would like to see some of the specifics they're suggesting. 

I am not convinced by the "geoengineering" concept. Here is the way I see it:
  1. Global warming has been caused by human activities (most significantly by the burning of lots of hydrocarbon fuels). 
  2. At the start, we didn't realize that our human activities could, in fact, undermine the integrity of the Natural World that supports all life, but.... 
  3. Now we know. 
  4. Since it has been our human actions that have caused the problem, we need to change those actions. In other words, we need to stop burning hydrocarbon fuels. 
  5. Trying out some new way to put human beings in charge of the natural processes that "run" the World of Nature, and to assert that humans can, or should, take charge of the operations of the World of Nature, instead of conforming ourselves to the limits of that Natural World, is bound to get us into even deeper trouble. 
"Geoengineering" and "hacking the sky" aren't going to help us. The "Two Worlds Hypothesis" might. 

If we could start recognizing our ultimate dependence on the World of Nature that we didn't create, and remind ourselves, always, that anything is possible in the human world that we do create, we could get out of our current dilemma. 

And the first step? 

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1 comment:

  1. While I do not agree that "It is our own human actions that have caused, and that are continuing to cause, the global warming problems we face," I agree that geoengineering is not an appropriate response to climate change. We don't understand climate and atmospheric dynamics well enough to fiddle about with such a delicate, chaotic system.

    Which also means we don't understand climate well enough to exclusively lay it at the feet of human CO2 production. Yes, our greenhouse gases do have an effect on naturally occurring climate variation, but we do not know the extent of that effect, nor the extent to which dramatically changing our societies will mediate climate change.

    If we stop all human production of greenhouse gases, a proposition that is probably not possible, climate will still change, as it did before humans produced GHGs. Unless we understand these nonlinear chaotic climate systems, any uninformed human response to perceived "global warming" could change the rate and direction of natural climate change in either positive or negative directions, with regard to human societies.

    Yes, we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, because they are, by definition, finite. And we must change our societies to operate within naturally occurring cycles of resource availability and waste dispersal. If we can accomplish these goals, greenhouse gas production will be significantly reduced as a by product.


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