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Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

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Robert Tulip

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Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

I have made a YouTube Video – 16 minutes - https://youtu.be/MzZDDjHYAnk - explaining this topic.

The Problem
Cutting emissions and removing greenhouse gases can’t stop climate tipping points
Politics and economics make cutting emissions difficult, expensive and slow.
The world situation is like a canoe headed for a waterfall
Viable cooling technologies lack funds, publicity and political support
The Solution
Reverse the IPCC priority order and put increasing albedo first
A brighter planet can avoid the climate danger zone.
Cooling technologies such as Marine Cloud Brightening are quick, safe and cheap
Fund large scale solar geoengineering research
Governments must cooperate to implement direct cooling measures.
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DWill

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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

That was great, Robert. Tough to argue with your logic. I wondered about the hundreds of millions of tonnes of S02 for injection up to 2070, vs. your statement about using misted seawater to cool the Antarctic. The latter substance would seem better. In the case of SO2, what are the likely expected effects on the acidity of rainwater? In other words, how serious would the side effects be--(and would the perception of those effects become a major drawback for implementation)?
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

DWill wrote: Wed Aug 10, 2022 11:07 am That was great, Robert. Tough to argue with your logic.
Thanks very much DWill.
I find in general that my logic is something people ignore rather than try to argue against.
There is a strong cognitive dissonance between the arguments I present and the whole public climate debate between emission reduction and climate denial.
DWill wrote: Wed Aug 10, 2022 11:07 am I wondered about the hundreds of millions of tonnes of S02 for injection up to 2070, vs. your statement about using misted seawater to cool the Antarctic. The latter substance would seem better.
I agree Marine Cloud Brightening should be the priority. It is safe and simple and cheap and fast, as I mention in the video talk. It also has the advantage that it will enable governance systems to be established that will allow governments to have a sound consideration of more seemingly risky methods like stratospheric aerosols and iron in the oceans.
DWill wrote: Wed Aug 10, 2022 11:07 amIn the case of SO2, what are the likely expected effects on the acidity of rainwater? In other words, how serious would the side effects be--(and would the perception of those effects become a major drawback for implementation)?
Acid rain is likely to be a minor problem according to https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com ... 09jd011918

The perception is a major political issue. As I mention in my talk, it led the IPCC to extremely negative criticisms, which I and many critics regard as spurious. It is quite bizarre to have an existential global problem with a clear solution which is flatly rejected on baseless grounds. The psychology of this debate is fascinating, with the climate action movement making the unity of the left a far higher priority than actually finding solutions to the world's top medium term stability and security challenge.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

Random thinkery:
  • Interesting how solutions have evolved. Carbon emission reduction was the first priority. When that appeared inadequate carbon mining and sequestration was proposed, but it seems little has been done. Now that probably isn't enough so geoengineering such as increasing albedo is proposed.
  • We have been reducing sulphur dioxide pollution, but now we might increase that to brighten the atmosphere? Here's a brief song from the musical Hair about that.
  • As difficult as selling emission reductions as well as carbon mining and sequestration has become, geoengineering will be impossible to enact. Consider the levels of paranoia and hysteria just on Covid. Even in the face of over 580 million cases and nearly 6.5 million deaths, many people still believe Covid is a hoax. Even after over 12 billion covid vaccines have been administered, many people still believe they are incredibly dangerous, even more so than the "fake virus."
  • Leaving aside many other areas of paranoia and hysteria, consider how the public will evaluate the safety of geoengineering given the above covid conspiratorial thinking. (It will be contrails, medieval secret societies, and Satan on steroids.)
  • How permanent would Marine Cloud Brightening be? Could it be reduced, dispersed, or reversed if unintended consequences become too severe?
Thanks...
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Robert Tulip

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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

LanDroid wrote: Thu Aug 11, 2022 9:56 am Random thinkery:
[*] Interesting how solutions have evolved. Carbon emission reduction was the first priority. When that appeared inadequate carbon mining and sequestration was proposed, but it seems little has been done. Now that probably isn't enough so geoengineering such as increasing albedo is proposed.
There is quite a bit of work happening on carbon dioxide removal, but the problem is that no one will pay for it and that it is too small and slow to make any difference to rising temperatures.
LanDroid wrote: Thu Aug 11, 2022 9:56 am [*] We have been reducing sulphur dioxide pollution, but now we might increase that to brighten the atmosphere? Here's a brief song from the musical Hair about that.
The banning of high sulphur fuels in coal and oil does have a significant warming effect. The biggest sulphur emission in recent times was Mt Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, which cut world temperature by half a degree. Targeted addition of sulphur to the stratosphere could cut temperature by one degree with a fleet of 100 planes at annual cost of $5 billion, a tiny fraction of the amount governments are wasting on cutting emissions.
LanDroid wrote: Thu Aug 11, 2022 9:56 am [*] As difficult as selling emission reductions as well as carbon mining and sequestration has become, geoengineering will be impossible to enact. Consider the levels of paranoia and hysteria just on Covid. Even in the face of over 580 million cases and nearly 6.5 million deaths, many people still believe Covid is a hoax. Even after over 12 billion covid vaccines have been administered, many people still believe they are incredibly dangerous, even more so than the "fake virus."
I don’t think scientists are particularly trained at telling a coherent and reassuring story of how to implement a policy designed to cool the planet. Much more wholistic thinking is needed than is possible through the silo approach of academic science. The advantage of geoengineering over emission reduction is that the science indicates it will be safe, cheap, fast and effective. The only problem is that it means the climate activist community has to eat crow over their failed policy prescriptions that say decarbonising the economy is an effective climate strategy
LanDroid wrote: Thu Aug 11, 2022 9:56 am [*] Leaving aside many other areas of paranoia and hysteria, consider how the public will evaluate the safety of geoengineering given the above covid conspiratorial thinking. (It will be contrails, medieval secret societies, and Satan on steroids.)
What is needed is debate within technocratic circles among rational people of good will to develop the policy rationale for direct cooling. One controversial point for this process is that the climate action community see the unity of the left as more important than stabilising the climate. The left are united around the lowest common denominator of cutting emissions, which has acquired a quasi-religious mythical status as the necessary and sufficient political strategy. That means they do not want to consider a political strategy that involves reconciliation with the right. By contrast, geoengineering involves cooperation with the fossil fuel industries to bring their assets, interests, skills and contacts together to support scientific research. That can support their ongoing social licence to operate in ways that will be strongly questioned by the political left whose strategy is to cut emissions as fast as possible. The broader community would prefer a softer landing in the transition toward a decarbonised economy, avoiding the energy catastrophes caused by forcing a too rapid shift away from coal and gas and the uncertainties around the ability of renewable energy to fill the gap.
LanDroid wrote: Thu Aug 11, 2022 9:56 am [*] How permanent would Marine Cloud Brightening be? Could it be reduced, dispersed, or reversed if unintended consequences become too severe?
Thanks...
Not permanent at all. Effects last a few weeks. That means the bigger risk is termination shock, that if for some reason an MCB program suddenly stopped, the latent warming masked by the brightening process would come roaring back. So the governance framework to ensure continuity is important, within a security framework. The biggest technical problem is that the mist droplets need to all be of the same optimal size, and the technology does not yet exist to deliver this, although compared to a moon landing it is a simple problem. The termination problem shows that it is essential that brightening be seen only as a stopgap until new technologies emerge to remove CO2 at gigatonne scale. My view is that seaweed and soil are likely to be the best, able to operate at a bigger scale than new emissions. I am keen to read Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson which looks at related issues.
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Robert Tulip

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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

From my point of view, success would be COP27 in Egypt agreeing to the program of the Healthy Planet Action Coalition for planetary cooling, as a practical and constructive priority for international cooperation and peacebuilding. Shift Russian attention from Ukraine to re-freezing the north, possibly with Arctic shipping canals through the ice. Military security has to be integrated with climate security on a global basis. Geoengineering with solar radiation management should become the main climate policy priority for this decade, quickly cooling the planet alongside work on GHG emission reduction and removal.

Irreversible changes such as species extinction are worsening under current policies. Brightening the planet would produce rapid cooling that would help to reverse these damaging environmental impacts. Higher planetary albedo/reflectivity would also help avoid irreversible tipping points and reduce extreme weather and sea level rise. Governments will need to regulate the planetary atmosphere for the foreseeable future, with increased albedo a key objective. There is no case to reverse brightening as that would increase warming. More albedo means more cooling, as a primary measure of radiative forcing. A whiter planet is a cooler planet.

Solar radiation management has projected benefits and protections far exceeding its costs and risks. Work to increase albedo by brightening the planet will remain necessary for a long time to cool the biosphere and reverse the harms caused by emissions. Albedo is the most immediate trigger for climate temperature change, with CO2 a slower factor. An albedo focus for COP27 could easily prevent warming rising above 1.5°C.

Ecological security is part of climate security, which also includes the human security dimensions of climate change. Climate security can link to military security, by creating opportunities for peaceful international cooperation to build confidence and trust. Cooling the poles is a climate goal that would improve ecological and human security.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

COP27 should enable interested governments to dedicate funds to international cooperation for direct climate cooling.

David Keith estimates that investment of $2 billion to assess technologies could avert climate damage costing $10 trillion.

The exclusion of SRM from the Summary for Policy Makers for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report reflects a political rather than a scientific assessment.

Governments need to base climate policies on science, but in this case it is IPCC ignoring the science.

A coalition of interested nations should agree at COP to freeze the polar regions as a first step toward climate restoration.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

The approach of unifying the environment movement around the goal of getting off fossil fuels as quickly as possible, is broadly supported across the climate action movement. If that would cool the planet, I would say fantastic, lets do it. The problem is that this accepted strategy has no chance of achieving its aims.

Cutting fossil fuel use, or even ramping up GHG removal, cannot prevent the predicted dangerous climate tipping points. A different strategy is needed. COP27 should aim for political agreement to use direct climate cooling technologies as a primary climate response.

One of the rallying cries around climate change is ‘follow the science’. The problem with this call is that the science of climate change is clear, but the science of what to do about it is not. The popular assumption that speeding up decarbonisation can prevent dangerous warming is just unscientific. The tipping points are hitting harder and bigger and earlier. A strategy led by emission cuts will just get overwhelmed by the scale and rapidity of climate change, like a ten foot levee in a thirty foot flood. The same problem applies for GHG removal. The only action that will actually stand a chance of slowing the growing momentum of tipping points is brightening the planet. That is the climate action we have to speed up. That is why the technical scientific problem we face is to work out what are the fastest and most effective actions that will prevent climate damage.

In this context, politics to build the environment movement is often a constraint, not a strategy. Sticking with actions that can unify the environment movement, as you suggest, won’t stop dangerous warming. While activists are fixated on political justice, they are distracted from the empirical science of warming. The immediate aim should be to slow warming. That means expanding research on technologies such as marine cloud brightening, mirrors for earth energy reflection and the potentially decisive method of stratospheric aerosol injection.

In an emergency, triage requires determining what action will make a difference to life or death. Climate triage requires accepting that direct climate cooling is the decisive question of our time, and that other concerns need to be put on hold until the cooling problem is addressed. When you face a thirty foot flood with a ten foot levee, planning to increase the levee by six inches is pointless, but that is what a focus on carbon amounts to. It will not affect tipping points if decarbonisation takes three decades or ten, as long as immediate steps are taken to cool the planet, while putting policies in place to remove GHGs on a scale larger than emissions.

An article in The Guardian put this problem into stark relief, wrongly asserting that the “climate crisis is not a scientific or technical problem, it is an issue of justice and political will.” This is a call to fiddle while Rome burns, given that the proposed “political will” involves social and economic conflict to dismantle our current energy system against strong resistance, with no prospect of cooling effect and high risk of creating widespread energy poverty and climate delay.

Achieving climate stability is a very difficult technical problem. At the moment, the advocates of “justice” are totally preventing action to solve the technical problem. It is a serious moral scandal that the wrong political strategy of the climate movement is the single most flexible lever that could be moved to start the world on a path of climate repair and restoration.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

I fully share concerns about the ecological and health damage caused by our capitalist system. The problem is finding a practical path forward that will save the world from climate disaster and ecological collapse.

Recent commentary has likened fossil fuel industries to tobacco. That is reasonable as far as their record of deceit is concerned, but there is a big difference in that smoking has negative economic value and is directly deadly to its users, whereas fossil energy totally underpins the world economy and has high enduring value. Fossil fuels are only deadly, in terms of global warming, if we do not work out how to mitigate their effects.

Rapid decarbonisation of the economy would cause chaos, poverty and conflict. This is increasingly seen by the majority of voters, who will not support emission cuts that go well beyond their economic interests. That makes the idea of shutting down emissions a futile and unworkable objective in the coming decades. The formidable alliance between fossil fuels and the military and intelligence world, with all their industrial, political and media supporters, dwarfs the power of their opponents, even if their opponents gain state power.

What is needed is a bit like a ‘judo climate policy’, using the weight and momentum of the opponent to achieve victory. That would mean allying with fossil energy industries on direct climate cooling. But the difference from judo is that this alliance would serve mutual interests in a flourishing planetary future.

I read the Stanford petition condemning university partnership with the fossil fuel industry and was appalled by its vain and shallow analysis. That whole line of thinking is wrong.

Demonising fossil fuels is perfectly fair in terms of their duplicity about climate change and their arrogant destruction of people’s health. However, partisan attack is a highly risky and counterproductive strategy when it comes to defining a path out of our climate peril.

Direct climate cooling through technologies such as Marine Cloud Brightening is the only method that could mitigate extreme weather in this decade. CDR and emission reduction are too slow.

Who has the assets, the skills, the networks, the incentive, the funds and the overall material interest to implement direct climate cooling? The fossil fuel industry certainly does have all these. Direct climate cooling would support the commercial interest of fossil fuel companies in securing their future by enhancing ongoing climate stability. It would also benefit the insurance industry.

If the fossil fuel industry shifted its policy to support planetary brightening, we would see an immediate transformation of the climate debate. They should make this policy shift. It would directly mitigate the harm their products are causing as extreme weather worsens, and it would also be in their commercial interest, justifying the inevitable slower transition to renewables than that demanded by the IPCC.

The danger is that the prospect of an energy transition has been over-hyped. This northern winter is expected to be a costly disaster for Europe. The prospect of energy rationing is due in significant part to the failing fantasy of shifting too fast to renewables. There is talk of a coal renaissance.

People are most unlikely to agree to decarbonise at a speed that would mitigate climate change. The world needs to buy time to delay catastrophic tipping points that would swamp carbon-based climate policies. The only way to do that is solar geoengineering.

Fossil fuel companies are the main organisations able to switch world policy to accept solar geoengineering, and to cooperate with governments in ensuring its deployment is safe, fast and effective. I hope they will talk about brightening the planet at COP27. Climate activists should engage this debate, not shun it on ideological tribal grounds.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

I wonder if the countries most threatened by climate change--and accounting for the smallest contributions to atmospheric GHG--will begin to demand action on planetary brightening. So far, I think their reasonable demands are that the big polluters decarbonize and that vulnerable countries receive a great deal more adaptation funding.

Whether the scenario you lay out could ever come to pass, who knows. It sounds unlikely, but history is full of strange turns. The fossil fuel industry, worldwide, is a complex of companies belonging to many organizations. We might speak of it as an entity, but it's a hydra-headed beast with only one common goal, to make money. At least some of these industries are concerned about future viability, though, in view of regulatory pressure and the public's growing disillusion with fossil fuels. That fear is probably contributing to their investments in alternative energy, and it could also motivate some of them to pay for brightening the planet--if they saw that their core business would survive longer if warming worries decreased.

Three problems I see are that 1) any geoengineering proposals are bound to be accepted only as stop-gaps on the way to full decarbonization; 2) the most vulnerable countries might cry out that the industrialized world now wants to implement a risky plan rather than do the harder work of decarbonizing, and 3) the governance issues are really thorny.

However, tobacco companies found a way to diversify their businesses in order to survive and grow. Maybe fossil fuel energy companies will be able to do the same, and will use an indirect route like planet brightening to help make that happen.
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RE: Book review: ‘Pandora's Toolbox The Hopes and Hazards of Climate Intervention’ by Wake Smith (Cambridge Univ. Press)

Comment on Climate intervention: a possible hope in the face of humanity’s biggest problem, 29 Aug 2022 Hamish Johnston reviews Pandora’s Toolbox: the Hopes and Hazards of Climate Intervention by Wake Smith
https://physicsworld.com/a/climate-inte ... t-problem/

This review makes several comments that are absurdly ignorant and unscientific. It is amazing at one level that Physics World can publish such obviously mythological claims, but unsurprising at another level, in view of the popular hold of the myths the review promotes and the emotional comfort they provide to the mass climate movement.
Lets go through them.
1. “The rapid reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero is the only practical way to halt climate change.”
No. This is wildly and dangerously wrong in several points. Rapid reduction of emissions is not practical in view of the intense and powerful political and economic opposition to it, and the immense technical challenges in stopping emissions of both carbon dioxide and methane. All the talk of cutting emissions in recent decades has only seen a remorseless rise. Next, even “net zero” would be laughably far from a “way to halt climate change”. Reaching net zero by 2050 would see a CO2 equivalent level well above 600 parts per million. Numerous irreversible tipping points would be crossed before then, unless we move immediately to brighten the planet. Relying on carbon methods alone is like claiming you can stop a thirty foot flood with a ten foot levee. That is not practical. And even if tipping points do not somehow push us into a hothouse, the idea that 600 ppm would not involve further climate change is absurd. It would commit the planet to ongoing change until we reach earth system equilibrium with much higher sea level etc.
2. One obvious reason for caution is that altering the chemical makeup of the atmosphere is what got us into this climate mess, and some worry that further tinkering could make things worse.
This may seem “obvious” but it is not. It is obvious politically that many (not just some) people do have this worry, which has been aggressively promoted by political opponents using flawed and deceptive moral hazard logic. It is not at all obvious scientifically, which is what should matter to Physics World. There are no good scientific grounds for the ideological worries that have prevented investment in cooling technology. Scientifically, applying known cooling chemistry would cause cooling, if managed under strong technical protocols. This would pull us back from the dangerous precipice of numerous looming unsafe tipping points, with benefits far exceeding risks. Use of charged political rhetoric like “obvious” is unscientific. Cooling chemistry is completely different from the chemistry of emissions.
3. Even if we do manage to meet the Paris Agreement and get to net-zero emissions shortly after 2050, Smith warns, the excess carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere will endure for centuries or even millennia. This means that temperatures will not quickly return to pre-industrial levels.
This claim accepts the howling popular error in the meaning of net zero, which means emissions equal removals. It is probable that when net zero is achieved, it will mainly be through removals, not through cutting emissions. That will mean we will have a trajectory of expanding removals. The removal technology will enable the excess CO2 to be removed over the next decades through ongoing removals, and will not at all imply past emissions will endure for centuries. The problem is that this review accepts the popular mythological assumption that net zero mainly requires decarbonisation of the economy when that is not the case at all.
4. Smith looks at other removal strategies such as making biochar, which involves the partial recovery of elemental carbon from biomass and then using that carbon to enrich soils… we will need to organize the world to pay the trillions of dollars required to deploy them year in and year out for decades to come.”
Claiming biochar would cost trillions seems dubious. Its improvements to soil structure would increase agricultural yields. I suspect greenhouse gas conversion technology will develop other materials-based approaches using photosynthesis that will become profitable, creating large new carbon mining industries to rival the 20th century emergence of aviation, pharmaceutical and chemicals.
5. Unlike cutting emissions or capturing carbon, Stratospheric Aerosol Injection will not stop or reverse climate change
If this statement were totally reversed it would be true in the short term. Brightening the planet is the only way to “stop or reverse climate change” in this decade, addressing extreme weather, tipping points, biodiversity loss and higher temperatures. Carbon based methods will take decades to have any effect on temperature (ie climate) and might even then be totally swamped by tipping points, absent a main focus on albedo. Stopping climate change requires stopping tipping points, which requires higher albedo. While it is true in the long term that we should bring the GHG level back to the Holocene norm, that is a slow task.
6. governance of an SAI programme… ideally would have the consent of all the people on the planet.
This is from the author not the reviewer. Green movements have a quasi-religious opposition to SAI, based on their historic origins in thinking that is closely related to the communist movements which saw class struggle as a fight between good and evil. Their political war against fossil fuels is a form of class struggle that has morphed in green ideology from a means to stabilise the climate into an end in itself. Converting greens to understand the climate science of direct cooling may well be more difficult than converting denialists. Decisions to cool the planet will likely require implementation without the consent of ideological opponents. Smith is correct this will be a massive challenge, but it is a profound and tragic irony that the people who profess to care the most about climate change are now doing the most to prevent effective investment to reverse it. This is a moral problem that requires much more public conversation to expose the hypocrisy and inconsistency of opponents of geoengineering.
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Robert Tulip

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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

DWill wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:33 am I wonder if the countries most threatened by climate change--and accounting for the smallest contributions to atmospheric GHG--will begin to demand action on planetary brightening.
Hi DWill, I am so pleased that you have responded here as I find it extremely rare that anyone is willing to engage seriously on climate change. The vast bloviating reams of nonsense and fantasy that pass for climate conversation in mass media and politics systematically avoid any discussion about practical planet cooling strategies. It is very difficult for vulnerable countries to formulate sound climate policies, since they are assailed by bloviating nonsense from those who should know better in the IPCC and kindred liars, bullied into believing that cutting emissions is the main priority.

The paradigm shift involved in seeing direct climate cooling as the immediate and urgent turning point to start climate recovery is something that needs discussion among scientists before it will be realistic for vulnerable poor countries to advocate for geoengineering.
DWill wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:33 am So far, I think their reasonable demands are that the big polluters decarbonize and that vulnerable countries receive a great deal more adaptation funding.
People have been deluded into seeing these demands as effective. The reality is they will do nothing to stop the looming climate tipping points that can only be mitigated by action to brighten the planet.
DWill wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:33 am Whether the scenario you lay out could ever come to pass, who knows. It sounds unlikely, but history is full of strange turns.
My scenario is that climate activists will ally with the fossil energy sector to implement direct cooling technologies. The mutual incentive here is that such a new alliance will serve the primary interests of both sides, providing a stable trajectory both for the ongoing use of fossil fuels and for the most rapid feasible path to stop climate tipping points.
DWill wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:33 am The fossil fuel industry, worldwide, is a complex of companies belonging to many organizations. We might speak of it as an entity, but it's a hydra-headed beast with only one common goal, to make money.
I read The Prize by Daniel Yergin some years ago, the leading history of the oil industry with focus on Rockefeller’s Standard Oil (became Esso (SO) and now ExxonMobil). Yergin emphasises that making money through oil and gas is closely linked to political power. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prize ... _and_Power
The primary current threat to the wealth and power of the industry comes from the decarbonisation movement, making its products more expensive to sell through carbon taxes and less legitimate and popular through criticism of their impact on global warming. Investing in direct climate cooling would protect and enhance the wealth and power of the fossil fuel industry, while also reversing climate change. The key initial objective should be to refreeze the Arctic, even though this might make polar gas extraction more difficult. An ice canal across the North Pole would be an exercise in global cooperation that the fossil fuel industry could lead, with major benefits for peace, security, stability, prosperity and cooling. I have previously observed that only the fossil fuel industry has the assets, skills, networks and interests needed to achieve cooling at the scale and speed needed to prevent dangerous climate change, working in cooperation with governments.
DWill wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:33 am At least some of these industries are concerned about future viability, though, in view of regulatory pressure and the public's growing disillusion with fossil fuels. That fear is probably contributing to their investments in alternative energy, and it could also motivate some of them to pay for brightening the planet--if they saw that their core business would survive longer if warming worries decreased.
All sensible corporations are vitally concerned about their strategic direction, including their social and political licence to operate, and their ability to adapt to evolving circumstances. The “moral hazard” logic of climate activists seeks to destroy the legitimacy of the fossil fuel industry by asserting that any action is morally evil if it slows efforts to close emitters down. Speeding up the energy transition to renewables has become a political war, regardless of the consequences and evidence. The incoherence and stupidity of moral hazard reasoning is seen in its major contribution to the energy poverty emerging in Europe by justifying breakneck speed in closing coal. This has not deterred its advocates, but it provides an opening for fossil fuel industries to say they can slow down global warming by direct cooling without cutting emissions. To date the partisan politics of climate change has not allowed this line any oxygen, but it is the only practical solution. In the short term, brightening the planet is an effective substitute for cutting emissions.
DWill wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:33 am Three problems I see are that 1) any geoengineering proposals are bound to be accepted only as stop-gaps on the way to full decarbonization;
“Full decarbonisation” is impractical and unnecessary. Greenhouse gas removal is likely to prove a more economic, safe and acceptable strategy to achieve firstly net zero emissions and then net negative emissions. Net zero emission simply means that total emissions equals total greenhouse gas removal. That is best achieved with minimal decarbonisation and maximal removal, since removal creates a trajectory to the required large net negative removals to restore Holocene conditions and prevent sea level rise and ocean acidification.
DWill wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:33 am 2) the most vulnerable countries might cry out that the industrialized world now wants to implement a risky plan rather than do the harder work of decarbonizing,
This confused idea is widespread but entirely wrong. Decarbonising is far more risky, ineffective, expensive, slow, unsafe and contentious than geoengineering, despite superficial appearances and assertions to the contrary. The only opposition to geoengineering is based on ideology, not on economic interests or scientific knowledge. Countries most vulnerable to sea level rise should seriously back the only strategy that could stop them sinking beneath the waves, namely brightening the planet to slow the loss of polar ice.
DWill wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:33 am and 3) the governance issues are really thorny.
Again, this is an assertion that looks quite uncertain. The alleged governance problem is based on the dubious claim that brightening the planet would be bad for some nations, such as those who rely on the Asian monsoon. But the evidence suggests increased albedo would actually be good for the weather everywhere, so claims to the contrary are a straw man. In fact, international cooperation on projects such as refreezing the poles would have major governance benefits, enabling improved peace, security, stability and climate.
DWill wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:33 am However, tobacco companies found a way to diversify their businesses in order to survive and grow. Maybe fossil fuel energy companies will be able to do the same, and will use an indirect route like planet brightening to help make that happen.
The comparison with tobacco is not really valid, since as I said above, tobacco has no redeeming value, as a murderous product that relies entirely upon addiction to keep its market. By contrast, hydrocarbons are efficient dense energy sources that have numerous productive uses and are difficult to replace. The challenge for fossil fuel companies to diversify requires that they develop cooling technologies that will stop the planet from overheating while the most safe, efficient and effective energy sources develop over the next century.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

Planetary brightening, carbon removal and emission reduction can be equal in priority, as three legs of a stool, while having different time horizons. There is an issue of political tactics here. We might believe emission reduction is marginal to climate restoration in view of the tipping point problem, as I have argued in recent discussions, but this is so far from the prevailing political orthodoxy that it is simply ignored and excluded. It is essential to advocate gradual incremental evolutionary policy shifts rather than a total upheaval.

Making the three legs of the climate policy stool equal in priority would involve a shift of funding from decarbonisation to research and development of cooling technology. That would require new funding for climate policy earmarked to planetary brightening. Once brightening is accepted as a legitimate part of the conversation, its rapid potential, low cost and security benefits will become obvious.

An analogy to the climate policy situation comes from a nutrition book called Eat Fat Get Thin. It argues that the diet paradigm has been challenged over the last thirty years, rejecting the USDA Food Pyramid of 1992 in favour of the view that a high fat low carb diet delivers better health outcomes, for example here. Climate policy requires an equivalent policy shift, and faces an equal or greater level of entrenched intransigent opposition. What this illustrates is that people’s beliefs that their views are rational are often wrong on a massive scale, especially when conflict of interest corrupts the discussion.

Eat Fat Get Thin begins with a remarkable quotation from President John F Kennedy that applies directly to the climate debate. He told Yale University in 1962
“the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
To my view this ranks even above the Rumsfeld epistemology of unknown unknowns as a political insight into philosophy and psychology. Political psychology in mass movements is primarily mythological. Climate policy is now bifurcated into two conflicting mythological tribes, the denialists and the decarbonists. Both are equally guilty of reliance on what President Kennedy called “the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought”. There is an element of lying, but the majority of participants in these debates are sincere. Good faith acceptance of sincerity means it is entirely possible to open scientific policy conversation based on logic and evidence so we can rise above the tyranny of myth, asking how we can transition from our current destructive trajectory to find a path toward universal flourishing.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

Mr. Tulip wrote:The “moral hazard” logic of climate activists seeks to destroy the legitimacy of the fossil fuel industry by asserting that any action is morally evil if it slows efforts to close emitters down.

...To date the partisan politics of climate change has not allowed this line any oxygen, but it is the only practical solution.
As a casual observer, I was not really aware of the strength of that opposition - interesting / vexing problem...
Planetary brightening, carbon removal and emission reduction can be equal in priority, as three legs of a stool, while having different time horizons. There is an issue of political tactics here. We might believe emission reduction is marginal to climate restoration in view of the tipping point problem, as I have argued in recent discussions, but this is so far from the prevailing political orthodoxy that it is simply ignored and excluded. It is essential to advocate gradual incremental evolutionary policy shifts rather than a total upheaval.
But nothing is happening with two legs of that stool. Constructing one carbon removal plant in Iceland creates a global news cycle. I can't imagine planetary brightening gaining any traction in a psych ward where a significant portion of the inmates dispute who is president of the US. I fear the world must experience the 30 foot tsunami completely devastating our 10 foot wall in an undeniable way before we attempt to increase the height above 30 feet. Is there a named movement or book that advocates this tripod (3 legged stool)? I can see now that selling this as anything like "we can have our cake & eat it too" would irritate advocates of emission reduction.

You mention "gradual incremental evolutionary policy shifts." Has your own thinking shifted? I don't recall you mentioning albedo increase when you were advocating algae farms as a method to extract carbon.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

LanDroid wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 8:42 am As a casual observer, I was not really aware of the strength of that opposition - interesting / vexing problem...
Hi LanDroid. I have just posted a comment on Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment which is actually quite relevant to this point of the politics of geoengineering. A conversation between the nineteenth century Russian communist and bourgeois representatives is used to illustrate the gulf in thinking between progressives and conservatives, with both regarding each other with moral repugnance.

Communist Party political strategy around the world was renowned for its astute ability to use deception to further its aims. Since the demise of communism in Russia thirty years ago, the social drivers of communist sentiment have not diminished, rather they have evolved to adapt to the times, through a focus on climate change.

After a decade or so of confusion in the 1990s, it seems that communists clarified their line, abandoning the explicit rejection of market economics and instead focusing entirely on the need to decarbonise the world economy. If I were a communist, seeking to foment popular uprising against the capitalist system, unswerving opposition to the fossil fuel industry would appear the most effective strategy. This party line has mass appeal among the useful idiots, and it offers a potential path toward state power without the baggage of Leninist totalitarian language about the party as the vanguard of the industrial proletariat.

Enter Moral Hazard reasoning. This dangerous ideology holds that all geoengineering research must be vigorously suppressed because it only delays the eventual full transition to renewable energy. This is a classic example of the false logic that the end justifies the means. In this case, the goal of shutting down fossil fuels has totally displaced the real goal of stopping global warming. Such is the venom and force of this ideology that this displacement has been rendered invisible. Now we see that the end of decarbonisation justifies the means of suppressing geoengineering, even though geoengineering supports the end of climate stability.

In fact, the moral hazard logic is totally spurious, since the reality is that the general public shift their views to support more action on climate, removing greenhouse gases over the medium term, when they see the seriousness of geoengineering as an immediate scientific proposal. Far from making carbon removal more difficult, brightening the planet would make it easier.

The motivated reasoning of the imagined moral hazard fallacy also crops up in the Orwellian redefinition of climate language. The key term “mitigation” has been totally redefined within the fantasy world of the UN and IPCC to no longer refer at all to the mitigation of climate change, its original meaning. Instead, 'mitigation' has been co-opted in UN-speak to solely refer to decarbonisation, even though in fact decarbonising the economy does almost nothing to mitigate climate change.

In furtherance of this Orwellian black-white nightmare, the alleged moral hazard of geoengineering has been rebranded as “Mitigation Deterrence”. It matters not a jot to the ideologues that decarbonisation is too small, slow, contested, risky, difficult and expensive to cool the planet, whereas geoengineering could be fast, safe, cheap, cooperative and effective. Science has been thrown out the window.

The similarities to communist reasoning are striking, which is hardly surprising in view of the genetic cultural origins of the decarbonisation movement in progressive politics. In place of the communist utopia of total equality, climate activists imagine a world with no combustion, what Greta Thunberg called ‘real zero’. The fact that both are farcical fanatical fantasies does not reduce their emotive appeal. It takes the hard experience of real consequences to disillusion the fanatic, and even that often fails to stem their enthusiasm, with all sorts of explanations cooked up for failure.
LanDroid wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 8:42 am But nothing is happening with two legs of that stool. Constructing one carbon removal plant in Iceland creates a global news cycle.
There is actually quite a bit of analytic work going on. Bill Gates funds the Harvard Solar Geoengineering Research Program, which published a paper this year explaining that a $2 billion global investment in research could avoid costs estimated at $10 trillion, a Benefit-Cost Ratio of 5000 to 1. Another leading scientific group, PNAS, recently published an estimate that adding an average of 15 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide to the stratosphere every year from 2035 to 2070 would reduce average temperature rise by 2°C. I hope this scientific information will gradually gain political traction.
LanDroid wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 8:42 amI can't imagine planetary brightening gaining any traction in a psych ward where a significant portion of the inmates dispute who is president of the US.
Rational policy has to be discussed first at an elite level before it can be implemented. Elites are open to rational persuasion by evidence. My view is that what is needed is a Grand Bargain with the fossil fuel industry for them to fund and support solar geoengineering in exchange for political acceptance that cutting emissions will be far slower than the UN proposes.
LanDroid wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 8:42 amI fear the world must experience the 30 foot tsunami completely devastating our 10 foot wall in an undeniable way before we attempt to increase the height above 30 feet.
That is certainly the prevailing consensus view regarding the depth of human stupidity and our extinctive trajectory, but it has to be realised that the flood might be permanent, that the changes of tipping points could be irreversible, and that many changes certainly are irreversible such as loss of biodiversity. The Pakistan flood and the European drought are already overtopping this metaphorical levee. Geoengineering is the only real climate action.
LanDroid wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 8:42 amIs there a named movement or book that advocates this tripod (3 legged stool)?
It is a new vision developed by the Healthy Planet Action Coalition - https://www.healthyplanetaction.org/
LanDroid wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 8:42 amI can see now that selling this as anything like "we can have our cake & eat it too" would irritate advocates of emission reduction.
100%. Their false logic is that we deserve punishment, sacrifice and collapse to expiate the sins of prosperity. The cake analogy is baseless. Ongoing prosperity and a stable flourishing climate are fully compatible, once humans work out how to cooperate to regulate the atmosphere.
LanDroid wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 8:42 am You mention "gradual incremental evolutionary policy shifts." Has your own thinking shifted? I don't recall you mentioning albedo increase when you were advocating algae farms as a method to extract carbon.
I have studied this material intensively over the last fifteen years and more. Indeed, I first mentioned climate change in my Masters philosophy thesis on ethics published three decades ago in 1991. There I wrote that “a conception of Being as necessity, …. in the context of ecology, … imparts a severity, … a “gentle seriousness”, to the search for solutions to the crises besetting us. Such a historical outlook requires us to recognise the significance of impending catastrophes such as depletion of resources caused by unsustainable consumption, rising sea levels caused by global warming and worsening solar radiation caused by the destruction of the ozone layer.”

Then when I was working for the Australian Government on forests and climate in 2007 my research convinced me that large scale ocean-based algae production would need to become the primary response to build a sustainable climate. I have gradually since then come to realise that greenhouse gas removal is not enough - like building a ten-foot levee wall in a place where a thirty foot flood is expected.

Higher albedo is needed to prevent catastrophe. Brightening the planet is now like an emergency tourniquet required to prevent an accident victim bleeding to death while they are rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

Response to Susan Farist Butler, RN, MSN, PhD
Visiting Scholar, Climate and Morality
Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge, MA

Susan’s position in Harvard Divinity School working on Climate and Morality gives her a unique and important platform to contribute productively to climate conversations, so I really appreciate her contribution here.

Susan says we are in profound disagreement, but I think she does not understand my argument. My interest is also entirely focused on climate and morality, grounded in my Masters thesis on ethics and ontology. I fear that in expressing her moral concern and care, Susan does not fully take into account the scale of immediate risk in the climate crisis, in view of the uncertainty about how tipping points could occur faster than models suggest.

The precautionary principle is central to morality, focused on preventing harm where knowledge is inadequate. With climate the most precautionary action we can take is to focus on increasing planetary albedo as an existential priority. This is a spiritual path, enabling us to open a conversation about our planet as a fragile and sensitive whole, a unified system that was in fine homeostatic balance but is now severely out of whack.

Susan argues that I am “speaking only of chemistry and physics, while omitting biology.” That is not true. The point of my call to brighten the planet is the need to understand the different timescales of various processes. Of course biological processes are fundamental to planetary sustainability, but the darkening of the planet and global warming are drivers of biological stress that need direct climate cooling to mitigate their effects, such as poleward migration.

Global warming does not afford us the luxury of relying on the slow time scales at which biological change operates. Metaphorically, there is a large fast freight train approaching and we are tied to the tracks. Escape requires the most urgent practical cooperative response. With global warming, the only thing that will derail the train is immediate global action to increase albedo, in order to create breathing space and time for restoration of biological systems.

Susan says “The biomes of the soil, the sky and the sea normally interact symbiotically to maintain climate stability.” That was normal a generation or two ago, but no longer. Our situation now is profoundly unstable and worsening. The only thing that can restore a liveable planet is immediate intervention at global scale to pull us back from the brink of dangerous tipping points.

Climate change is an engineering problem where albedo is our only short term lever. Certainly once things stabilise the biological sustainability is central, and we can focus on getting greenhouse gases back to Holocene norms, but it is wrong to prevent immediate solutions because they don’t of themselves provide a comprehensive long term answer. Biology is central to the critical path for planetary engineering, but the first step on that critical path is about restoring the balance in atmospheric chemistry to cool the planet.

Similarly, it is a beautiful image to note that “Trees emit bacteria and particulates that seed rain. They pull moisture from the soil biome that maintains an open, absorbent, fruitful earth.” Again, this was all once true on broader scale than today, and must become true again as we restore our lost spiritual connection to the tree of life. But the reality is that tipping points – drought, fire, temperature, insects, industry - will destroy our forests until we shift paradigm to become global stewards, beginning by regulating the atmosphere to brighten the planet as the first step on the path of climate repair and restoration.

I did feel that Susan’s statement verged on the rhetorical when she said “If you hypersalinate the sky to dump rain on a hardened earth you replicate in the sky the harm industrial agriculture has wrought on the land.” Such alarmist emotive language lacks a basis in evidence. It only stirs people up against cooperation for practical solutions, and is therefore quite harmful. So too, when Susan next says “Fruitful prairies are turned to stone” she allows a sense of religious poetic prophetic imagination grounded in the emotion of fear to take priority over the modern ethical obligation to investigate proposals in a dispassionate way.

Susan next says “We have an opportunity here to restore the balance of nature in its magnificent complexity, symbiosis and stability.” That is entirely true if we begin by brightening the planet. Otherwise it is not true, and we are on an inevitable path to destruction, collapse, conflict, ecocide and poverty. Spiritual vision is essential, but it has to build upon scientific vision, not seek to replace it. The brightening agenda is one of years, whereas restoring the balance of nature is a task that will take decades and even centuries in view of our current scale of imbalance.

Trees do make rain, as Susan says, and regenerative eco-restoration projects around the world are a great source of hope. But to “respect the fine balance Nature maintains and be her ally”, the first obligation is to gain an objective understanding of just how fragile and sensitive to shock our planet really is. The emergency prognosis on the medical analogy is that our planet is approaching cardiac arrest that would massively disrupt the stability of current biological and economic systems. Recommending a merely biological response to climate is akin to a surgeon recommending only diet and exercise for a person on the brink of heart failure.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

Climate change shows that political psychology in mass movements is primarily mythological. Deniers and decarbonisers form opposing climate tribes with conflicting myths, bifurcating climate policy into two conflicting worldviews. Both denialists and decarbonists are equally guilty of reliance on what President John F. Kennedy called “the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought”.

Arctic refreezing must become the top priority for climate policy, through international cooperation between governments to make directly cooling the planet, removing greenhouse gases and cutting emissions three co-equal priorities, as proposed by the Healthy Planet Action Coalition.

Counterpunch magazine published a recent article on this healthy planet vision of climate repair and restoration - Monumental Plans to Fix the Planet, showing how this approach to climate change is gaining an audience.

Three actions – cooling, removing and reducing - can be equal in priority while having different time horizons. The problem with current policy is that emission reduction is marginal to climate stability and security, due to the urgency of the tipping point problem. The likelihood and impact of a dangerous climate phase shift due to Arctic tipping points is an extreme planetary security risk. Warming can only be mitigated if the world community institutes direct immediate measures to increase planetary albedo. This is a challenge to the prevailing political orthodoxy in climate policy, proposing an evolutionary shift in planetary management. Our planet has to reflect more sunlight as a primary public policy priority. As ecological stewards, global humanity must manage and guide and regulate the planetary atmosphere, ocean and temperature toward optimum conditions for the abundant flourishing of life.

Making the three legs of the climate policy stool – cool, remove, reduce - equal in priority would involve a shift of funding from decarbonisation to new cooling technology. That would require new funding for climate policy earmarked to planetary brightening. Once brightening is accepted as a legitimate and central goal of the world climate conversation, the rapid potential, low cost, safety and security and biodiversity benefits of measures to increase albedo will become obvious.

President Kennedy told Yale University in 1962 that “the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

This description of the role of myth in politics speaks well to climate policy and science, as a political and philosophical insight into psychology, neuroscience and culture. Political psychology in mass movements is primarily mythological in character, due to our neural tribal instincts of loyalty and belonging. As already noted, climate policy is now bifurcated into two conflicting mythological tribes, the denialists and the decarbonists. President Kennedy's description of “the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought” shows the difficulty of scientific policy, the high inertia of politics and society when confronted with calls to change.

Both sides of the climate debate are equally guilty of reliance on beliefs that conflict with evidence. There is an element of lying, but the majority of participants in climate discussion are sincere. However, sincerely held but empirically wrong ideas are a form of fantasy. Denial that climate change is real and dangerous is a fantasy, as is the false belief that emission reduction alone could prevent dangerous climate change. Good faith acceptance of sincerity enables scientific policy conversation based on logic and evidence. We can rise above the tyranny of myth, asking how we can transition from our current destructive planetary trajectory to find a path toward universal flourishing.

An analogy to the climate policy situation comes from Eat Fat Get Thin, a nutrition book where author Dr Mark Hyman challenges the high carbohydrate diet paradigm of the USDA Food Pyramid of 1992 promoted strongly for decades by government dietary authorities. Carbohydrate as main staple food has been questioned over the last thirty years by the view that a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrate delivers better health outcomes, but this scientific discovery has confronted indifference and denial. Meanwhile, the Standard American Diet has produced the obesity epidemic, mainly from sugar, with impacts on cancer, dementia, sloth, heart disease and stroke. The bad health impacts of sugar have been widely ignored, as have the dangers of carbon dioxide and methane for global warming.

Upton Sinclair explained in The Jungle, his study of the Chicago meatworks a century ago, that a man will not accept a fact when his income requires him to deny it. This syndrome applies to the food industry today. Climate policy contains an equivalent level of error. An equivalent paradigm shift is needed in climate as in nutrition. And yet climate policy change faces an equal or greater level of entrenched and intransigent opposition as nutrition – including from many who maintain they support good outcomes. It shows how people’s beliefs that their own views are true and rational can be wrong on a massive scale. We construct social myths, especially when conflict of interest influences the discussion.

The 27th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change needs a paradigm shift, prioritising albedo to make the planet brighter and more reflective, to immediately cool and stabilise the climate.
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Re: Why Increasing Albedo is More Urgent than Cutting Emissions

Robert Tulip wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:10 am The 27th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change needs a paradigm shift, prioritising albedo to make the planet brighter and more reflective, to immediately cool and stabilise the climate.
Hi Robert, sorry for taking so long to get back to commenting on your passionate proposal. I'll address this last assertion you've made with a pessimistic comment about the possibility that the COP framework could be diverted to placing SAI or MCB at the top of the world agenda. Of course, as you say, neither is anywhere at all on the current list at these conferences. The whole COP process relies on individual countries' Nationally Defined Contributions, which are measures of carbon reductions, from direct cuts in emissions and methods of removal/sequestration such as reforestation. Now going on 27 iterations of goading countries to set increasing ambitions to reduce carbon production, the COP won't jettison the focus the institution is based on. This would go beyond even a paradigm shift--and 27 is only a few months away. Path dependency may explain this singular focus as well as devotion to a mythology does. The most that could be hoped for is that cooling gets some prominence in the various discussions that go on at COP27. But I don't see undeveloped countries clamoring for the wealthy to get on board with paying for cooling. They're still going to be demanding--quite rightly--a great deal more adaptation funding, and they'll be pointing fingers at laggard developed countries for not cutting enough emissions. Same old same old. By the way, adaptation funding for undeveloped countries does need to greatly increase, regardless of whether the world pivots 180 degrees to a cooling focus. Cooling the planet is quicker, but it's not that quick.

You speak of the psychological factors that cause people to be stuck on emissions reduction and to not even consider geoengineering. A psychology dilemma that advocates for cooling face is that they need to be up front about challenges and risks, in order to have credibility, yet doing so will probably make the majority less willing to follow. We've been putting the planet at risk for a couple of centuries, yet that has been slow and nondeliberate. To set off on a deliberate course of planetary engineering feels entirely different to people. If they are told of the uncertainties, they may jump on those reasons to avoid making a leap. I suppose one could speculate that if the engineering option was seen as less disruptive to lives, many people might prefer it, but I tend to think the other response is more likely. I also think Landroid's point about public suspicions of nefarious motives is a good one.

I read a piece by Gernot Wagner, in which he speculates that greater public awareness that scientists are seriously considering geoengineering may make people more adamant about emissions reduction. They might think, oh my god, we don't want them to do that, we need to cut back now on GHG! Wagner called that inverse moral hazard. It's just an example of the different reactions that are possible. https://www.milkenreview.org/articles/g ... the-gamble

Getting back to your prediction of fossil fuel companies allying with climate activists, such a great deal of movement on all sides needs to occur before that can happen. That is all I can think of as a comment.
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