I encourage this blog’s readers to skim Clive Hamilton’s piece on Geoengineering which was published in the NY Times today in its Opinion section. His piece is so strange that it is worth a carefully read. Here I provide some direct quotes;
“We can imagine a situation 30 years hence in which the Chinese Communist Party’s grip on power is threatened by chaotic protests ignited by a devastating drought and famine. If the alternative to losing power were attempting a rapid cooling of the planet through a sulfate aerosol shield, how would it play out? A United States president might publicly condemn the Chinese but privately commit to not shooting down their planes, or to engage in “counter-geoengineering.”
In 30 years, if China keeps growing by 5% per year, this nation’s per-capita income will have quadrupled its current per-capita level. China will be at least 80% urbanized at that time and will be fully integrated into the world trading market. Famine does not take place in nations that actively import and export in the world economy because there is always some other nation happy to export to you. In an urbanized nation, drought has costs but world trade breaks the link between consumption and production. Professor Hamilton has not read my Climatopolis book.
“All of which points to perhaps the greatest risk of research into geoengineering — it will erode the incentive to curb emissions. Think about it: no need to take on powerful fossil-fuel companies, no need to tax gasoline or electricity, no need to change our lifestyles.”
So, this is the usual “moral hazard” point that any cheery thoughts about our ability to adapt to anticipated challenges posed by climate change or to engage in some geoengineering is “pure evil” because it mitigates the carbon mitigation imperative.
He concludes with the following warning about messing with Mother Nature;
So the battle lines are being drawn over the future of the planet. While the Pentagon “weaponeer” and geoengineering enthusiast Lowell Wood, an astrophysicist, has proclaimed, “We’ve engineered every other environment we live in — why not the planet?” a more humble climate scientist, Ronald G. Prinn of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has asked, “How can you engineer a system you don’t understand?”
The New York Times should publish scientists’ thoughts about geo-engineering. When I type Professor Hamilton’s name into Google Scholar, this is what I see. I see no academic work on geoengineering. Instead, I see a scholar who publishes extensively on the point that the world must swear off the American Dream.