Thursday, April 2, 2009

Good climate for everyone - UChannel on global warming

I had never thought there would be something like climate engineering until I heard a podcast from UChannel Podcast. Daniel Schrag of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University was invited to speak about this subject at Princeton University, the home ground of UChannel Podcast. Climate engineering is what the word suggests: technological interference with the earth's climate and this is neither science fiction nor a list of possible measures that are all too expensive to contemplate.

There is little talk of what can be done, because, naturally the talk focuses on the ethics of the subject. If we can, should we be allowed. Or as Schrag has it, if we can and the dangers of global warming are as great as we can possibly fear, then maybe we must. But Schrag is no ethicist, he is a geologist, so he is most at ease and informative when dealing with the relevant facts. A bit of what can be done and a whole lot of what range of challenges and dangers are involved with global warming and the science of predicting its effects.

The magnitude of the subject is overwhelming and I must admit, I have an intuitive reaction against climate engineering. I think, messing with the environment got us in the bad shape we are in, do we need more messing. Promising a Mediterranean climate for everyone sounds worse than too good to be true, it sounds like the words of the sorcerer's apprentice. Schrag pays attention to these intuitions and replies to them. His tendency, as stated above: the situation is so bad, we have no choice. It is like applying a tourniquet to prevent us from bleeding to death. Indeed, you wouldn't apply a tourniquet to a healthy person. Question remains: do we really know how sick we are?

More UChannel Podcast:
Robots and War,
Sudan and the fallacy of nationhood,
Against intervention,
Lakhdar Brahimi on Afghanistan and Iraq,
Europe versus Islam.

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