Friday, August 06, 2010

This week: Use a climate band-aid, open a can of worms - ounce prevention best

Three links.

1. Three new studies illustrate significant risks and complications with geoengineering climate
(Geoengineering being one climate-change band-aid, the "large-scale engineering of our environment in order to combat or counteract the effects of changes in atmospheric chemistry") -
... Combined, these three studies paint a bleak picture of geoengineering that runs counter to some proponents’ claims.
Climate disruption is a hole, and before we consider how best to use geoengineering to build us a ladder out of the hole, we have to stop digging ourselves even deeper."

2. How Adapting to Climate Change Could Make Global Warming['s effects] Worse ( -
To the extent that we just "go with the flow" and try to just adapt to climate change instead of preventing it, we'll cause additional environmental harm -
"as the planet itself reacts to warming, so will we. People will move away from the coasts as sea level rises, or shift agriculture to the north as the land we farm now becomes too hot and too dry to be productive. Human influence on the planet will shift as we adapt to warming—and we may end up doing even more damage to the Earth than climate change itself."
I find this prospect ("even more damage to the Earth than climate change") counterintuitive, but intuition may not be a good guide here; so it's worth thinking about.

3. On considering prevention policies, and putting economics to work for us, see Can’t greens and libertarians just get along on climate?
Dave Roberts calls our attention to this discussion, saying
"The exchange raises two crucial climate policy questions:
1. Can government policy and money accelerate technological innovation, and if so, how? (Does a carbon price do it? Research grants? Both? Or is government just bad at this sort of thing?)
2. Do adaptive changes in social, economic, legal, and behavioral practice count as "innovation," or is the term reserved for technology? What is the potential of social innovation, relative to technological innovation, to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions?"

From the exchange, quoting Avent:
"...if you allow prices to do some of the work, you get many different solutions to the problem, many of which are far cheaper and more effective than the pre-conceived idea you had in mind. You get folks coming up with bike-sharing programs, car-sharing programs, and so on. You get effective innovation, which is exactly what we want. Manzi looks for the innovation he thinks he should see, and in the process he misses all the innovations that are actually there. And that’s precisely why the carbon price signal is so crucial."


George said...

Hi Anna - Kudos for adopting a structured response in which a dialogue may go forth between AGW proponents and skeptics. Though I'm not sure how well this can proceed on your blog given the draconian strictures you impose on responses. (I'm not even sure whether this comment survives.) Anyway, good luck. George Rebane

Anna said...

Thank you George; though it's shaping up to be the shortest experiment on record, as the two local contrarian-view adherents seem quite reluctant to participate.

> "draconian strictures you impose on responses"

Even in email, they haven't been willing.
(on my optimistic days, I cherish the idea that this is because they're lifelong learners who've now benefited from )