Friday, 13 March 2009

Some things should remain science fiction
Ideas like this scare me.  I would hope that governments would be as dismissive of these mega projects as I am - some things just belong in science fiction.  I loved reading about the giant magnfiying glass and controlled atmospheric burnup of comets in Red Mars but I don't want this to be done to MY planet.  Climate change is a real problem but the issue clouds what I consider to be the real problem which is pollution and human disruption of nature.  Cooling the world will not solve will not scrub the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and methane, it may drop the overall temperature a few degrees but who knows what the consequences could be?  
This is scarily like the cane toad solution - the (native!!!) prickly pear is a weed so let's get in a caterpillar to eat it.  Oh, the caterpillar doesn't like it but it does like sugar cane.  What do we do?  Let's get a toad to eat that.  What's that?  The toad is ground dwelling and the caterpillar lives a few feet out of range.  Big solutions can have big side effects and we can't afford to f**k around with things we don't fully understand.  And if we do manage to cool global temperatures a bit the urgency for reducing emissions goes out the window.  Already there are companies who are "seeding" the ocean by dumping iron in it to boost the growth of phtoplankton which should be able to absorb CO2 (  That's fine as an experiment to see if it helps but not when you're then selling this is as a carbon credit.  They want the world's governments to PAY them to pollute?  I think you're missing the point.  
To curb CO2 we need to develop carbon sinks - something that can absorb and capture the excess CO2 and related gases that are causing these probelems.  Thus far, the best we've got is planting trees but all this gain is lost when they're cut down.  Storing it in disused mines is an interesting idea.  But what about capturing it and turning it into building material?  Diamond and graphite is sequestered carbon and it takes a long time to break down.  I'm not an engineer so I can't say whether this is feasible in terms of the energy required to convert the gases into a solid but whatever the solution is it has to be low impact.  Putting a sail in space or polluting the oceans or air is going to have massive risks that we just can't afford to make.  Let's try this on Mars first - we've only got one planet to live on thus far and we wreck this one we're screwed.

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