A little bit of heresy for the day.
This week, a conversation with Bjorn Lomborg, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, the president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and one of the foremost climate experts in the world today. His new book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet, is an argument for treating climate as a serious problem but not an extinction-level event requiring such severe and drastic steps as rewiring a large part of the culture and the economy. Bjorn responds directly to some of the most vociferous climate policy critics, including Greta Thunberg, author David Wallace-Wells (The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming), and proponents of the Green New Deal. We also discuss some promising emerging technologies and why worst-case scenarios are often just that—scenarios that are used to motivate the public into action but are not in fact likely to occur. It’s a sobering and even-handed discussion on climate that does not include apocalyptic endings for the planet.
At least 3 (partial?) solutions I’ve seen:
Add soluble iron to areas of the ocean that are ordinarily barren, due to lack of iron, so that they will allow growth and thus absorb CO2.
Add about 1 million tons of SO2 to the stratosphere, at about 50,000 feet AGL (above ground level) to shield from the sun’s energy. MIT proposal from about 2013. (reduce ground emissions of SO2 to compensate.)
Finely grind rock (basalt) and spread it on farm fields to absorb 2-10 billion tons of CO2 per year. Proposal from about 2 weeks ago.
Generally, people who think “global warming” is a problem, don’t want there to be any sort of solution.
I’m not fully convinced there is a problem, but I believe we should plan for having a solution.
I don’t have a background in the physical sciences so I can’t really formulate an informed opinion on these questions. But the problem I have with the ACC thesis is the way it has become an apocalyptic religion, complete with child oracles like this little Greta girl. It also seems like the perfect tool for statist expansionism, and I’ve also noticed a Big Green industry has developed that hopes to profit from this by shifting corporate welfare away from the fossil fuels industry toward “green energy,” a new form of state/corporate/crony capitalism. A lot of the ideology around it seems almost like a pantheistic religion as well, i.e. nature worship as an end unto itself. Like other religions, it has its extremist/terrorist wing as well.
Of course, everything I just said could be true, and ACC could still be a very serious problem. I am in favor of trying to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels regardless of the ACC issue. Industrial pollution has caused a worldwide increase in respiratory diseases like asthma, and other health difficulties, in addition to the aesthetic issues involved like smog. One of the few good things about the pandemic is that is has reduced the amount of air pollution. It seems the most viable approach would be an increase in the use of nuclear power combined with an increase in the use of renewables, although I don’t think it will be possible to completely eliminate fossil fuels, at least not for the foreseeable future. Geothermal seems to be the most promising form of renewable. And the abolition of industrial civilization would result in mass starvation and death from diseases.
There is a book titled “Kiss the Ground” which argues that simply switching a large part (but not all) of croplands to no-till regenerative farming, which does not lower yields significantly but also increases nutrition hugely, we can reverse the CO2 trend through sequestration.