Perhaps it’s because my ears are peaked, but it seems to me that there has been a flurry of ink on “geo-engineering” lately. If you spend your time in a cave, geo-engineering is, from the teaser of an article I’m about to praise, “schemes for reengineering the climate by brute force.” This is a concept you’ve most likely been introduced to through those folks at Climos who plan to seed the ocean with iron, which they say will create carbon-sucking plankton blooms.
This morning my inbox was hit yet again with some geo-engineering ink, via NPR. But I’m not going to link to it, because it sparked a memory of this superior treatment, written by my good friend Graeme Wood and also published this month, in The Atlantic. I’m convinced you shouldn’t bother reading anything else.
He does the subject justice, so much so that it’s almost impossible to pick quotes. I really recommend reading it all, but here’s the nugget:
We should keep such images in mind. And they should remind us that, one way or another, a prolonged love affair with carbon dioxide will end disastrously. A pessimist might judge geo-engineering so risky that the cure would be worse than the disease. But a sober optimist might see it as the biggest and most terrifying insurance policy humanity might buy—one that pays out so meagerly, and in such foul currency, that we’d better ensure we never need it. In other words, we should keep investigating geo-engineering solutions, but make quite clear to the public that most of them are so dreadful that they should scare the living daylights out of even a Greenfinger.
Graeme regaled me with some of these schemes while he was researching. And I was always quick to caution against a repeat of the 50s malaria-eradication efforts, an argument that John Anthony pointed out this morning I was stealing from Dr. Ian Malcolm. Sorry Jeff.