2007-10-09

Solutions for Global Warming

James E. Lovelock and Chris G. Rapley recently submitted a letter to Nature, suggesting the use of pipes to mix ocean waters to help them bloom pumping carbon dioxide underwater. Sounds much better than some others... but still, we should be cautious.

I asked Inman Harvey his opinion about it, and here's his reply:

On the one hand, my instinct is to be deeply sceptical and worried about *any* largescale attempt to modify a complex nonlinear feedback system barely understood, with not only known unknowns but unknown unknowns. I am somewhat sympathetic with a comment piece by Hari on
http://comment.independent.co.uk/columnists_a_l/johann_hari/article3024703.ece

On the other hand, compared with some other bizarre geo-engineering proposals, this is reassuringly lowtech, cheap, could be introduced and monitored in just one area initially -- and would be simple and quick to turn off if necessary. Rapid and scaleable and monitorable and turn-offable seems to offer more opportunities for deciding whether it might be mistaken and then modifying than the converse. So it seems at the lower-risk end of the spectrum of such ideas, and worth more consideration.

I don't know anything that Inman wouldn't be deeply skeptical about, so I guess this measure is worth giving it a try... Certainly unexpected things can happen, but you can start in less than a year with a pilot study, and scale it if it works... Of course, countries which produce more CO2 should pay for this... This shouldn't be an excuse to keep on pumping greenhouse gases, but we can see that even with our best efforts, global warming is already underway, and we can only attempt to mitigate the looming catastrophes...

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