I remember an old Tommy Cooper gag that went something like this;
I went to the doctor and said, “Doctor, doctor. It hurts when I do this” (Cooper raises his knee upwards to demonstrate)
The doctor said, “Well don’t do it, then“
The point is that it’s exactly like our prolific consumption of carbon-based fuels, but even worse, the now openly thought assumption that Global Climate Engineering is an antidote to global warming. An Elastoplast for the weather! Ha Ha.
Because of the world’s dependence on burning carbon, no-one wants to stop doing it. Economic growth, health, prosperity, comfort and status. We can’t afford to. No-one can.
A few days without petrol in 2000 in the UK demonstrated that admirably.
So instead of reducing consumption, all the mad-cap ideas ever invented are now being loudly mooted which will put it into people’s heads that not only are they possible, but also that they will happen. People will think that climate change is like an illness, and can be treated with an aspirin.
But it’s not.
The trouble is, that all the ideas are possible, but the consequences have never been tested. Because it’s the climate on the world we inhabit, there is no dummy test run for any of these plans. And because the Thermo-haline Circulation (THC) in the oceans takes ~1000 years to complete it’s full circuit, and because the THC is a major component of the Earth’s climate (because water and salt are such good heat stores), any changes we make now and have made in the past, will take centuries to smooth out. In short…..
We’ve got one shot at it.
There are host of ideas; wave-powered pumps to speed up ocean circulation; salt crystals in the sky to increase planetary albedo; space mirror to reflect sunlight; grind up scrap cars for ocean fertilisation to increase algal growth; artificial trees (to replace the ones we’ve chopped down?) – in short, heaps of them.
But none have been tested and none can ever, ever, be tested. There is no sandbox area. No roll-back facility. No system restore. No Backup. That’s it. It’s all or nothing.
Q. Why? A. Because the climate is a very complex thing and errors done at the macroscopic level will take millennia to work out of the system, if at all. Remember, the climate doesn’t smoothly vary. It swings wildly between two or more stable states, currently “Ice Age” and “Not quite Ice Age“.
The simplest way to reduce global warming, and at the same time make our nations less strategically dependant on others, and without all the problems of over-compensation, is just as Tommy Cooper’s doctor said,
Don’t Do It!
Don’t burn so much, don’t consume so much.
The tipping point, from the guys at the Royal Society and James Lovelock, will be when I’m about 75. Reduced pensions in my old age will be the least of my worries!
- Engineering Earth ‘is feasible’
- ‘Artificial trees’ to cut carbon
- Geoengineering is no longer unmentionable
- Earth experiment could buy precious time
- Plan B for Planet Earth – the best reasoned argument, IMHO, but buried away out of sight. The ‘effectiveness’ diagram is reproduced above.
- Gaia hypothesis
- Daisyworld – the simple maths of an inorganic ‘Daisyworld’ idea of Lovelock’s that is the basis of the Gaia Hypothesis
- James Lovelock