Climate Engineering Not Ready for Prime Time Says GAO

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High concept climate engineering.

The Government Accountability Office has released a new report, Climate Engineering [PDF]. The GAO evaluated various proposals for engineering the climate to counteract any warming caused by loading up the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. Two broad categories of engineering solutions were considered: carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management.

The GAO convened a panel of experts to help evaluate the proposals. Each technology was …

…rated for its maturity on a scale of 1 to 9, using technology readiness levels (TRL)—a standard tool for assessing the readiness of emerging technologies before full-fledged production or incorporation into an existing technology or system. … [rating] a technology with a TRL score lower than 6 as immature. 

With regard to carbon dioxide removal, the agency evaluated:

(1) Direct air capture of CO2 with geologic sequestration – using machines to chemically scrub CO2 from the air and pumping it underground for storage.

(2) Bioenergy with CO2 capture and sequestration—harvesting biofuel crops and sequestering the CO2 they emit when burned.

(3) Biochar and biomass methods – turning crops in fields into charcoal and burying it in the soil.

(4) Land-use management (reforestation, afforestation, or reductions in deforestation) – planting more trees to capture CO2 as they grow.

(5) Enhanced weathering – chemically reacting silicate or carbonate rocks with seawater to produce carbonic acid that could be spread in the ocean.

6) Ocean fertilization—releasing iron to certain areas of the ocean surface to increase phytoplankton growth and promote CO2 fixation.

With regard to solar radiation management, the agency evaluated:

(1) Stratospheric aerosols – injecting aerosols smaller than 1 micrometer in diameter (1 millionth of a meter) would cool Earth primarily by scattering a fraction of the solar radiation.

(2) Marine cloud brightening—a fleet of 1500 ships lofting droplets of seawater into the air where they brighten clouds which reflect sunlight.

(3) Scatterers or reflectors in space – a Saturn-like ring of reflective dust or 5 million parasol spacecraft to shade the earth from sunlight.

(4) Terrestrial reflectivity – cover 12 million square meters of desert with white polyethylene, plant more reflective crops, or paint roofs and roads white. 

With regard to technical maturity, only direct air capture of CO2 with geologic sequestration garnered a rating of 3. All of the others were rated 2 or 1. Remember technologies that score above 6 are rated as mature.

The GAO report also analyzed the various costs and possible side effects of deploying each of the proposed technologies. Although some researchers and activists have urged that climate engineering be banned outright, the GAO reported

…the majority of the experts we consulted supported starting significant climate engineering research now. … They further envisioned a future federal research effort that would emphasize risk management, have an international focus, engage the public and national leaders, and anticipate new trends and developments.

Just in case man-made global warming turns out to be worse than many expect, it makes sense to do research to figure out how to deploy some form of climate engineering as a backup emergency measure.

For more background see my column, SuperFreaking Out Over Climate Engineering.

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  1. The GAO report also analyzed the various costs and possible side effects of deploying each of the proposed technologies.

    Skinner: Well, I was wrong; the lizards are a godsend.
    Lisa: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?
    Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.
    Lisa: But aren’t the snakes even worse?
    Skinner: Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
    Lisa: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!
    Skinner: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

    1. That’s the very first thing I thought of when reading this.

  2. There used to be a joke about a company that could throw a blanket over the earth and sell holes in it. Turns out that comapany is our government.

  3. Climate engineering is more insane than the socialism put forth by the Greens. We have no idea how the climate actually works. And thus have no way of knowing the second order effects of such efforts. Climate engineering is like blasting a shotgun into your dark living room because you think the noise you just heard was an intruder. No thanks.

    1. Insane? or Genius? or fucking Awesome?

    2. Is this a spoof John?

      “Climate engineering is more insane than the socialism put forth by the Greens.”

      Really?!

      “We have no idea how the climate actually works.”

      We may have some variables to work out, and there may be some open debate about how much of a contribution one factor makes relative to another, but surely we must have some idea about how the climate works!

      It looks like you’re letting yourself be radicalized.

      Studying ways to counteract AGW seems pretty reasonable to me.

      1. Yes, we must implement solutions to AGW before we fully understand the problem.

        Did you see my award winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”?

        1. Yeah, actually, formulating solutions to problems before they materialize is kinda…what’s the word I’m looking for?

          Competent!

          1. Formulate all you want Ken. You just can’t implement anything until we damn well know what you are doing, which is very unlikely to happen.

            1. We only have to understand things within certain parameters to know there’s a problem significant enough to consider possible solutions.

              We’ve already been through this once in the last week. If there really is a problem–we shouldn’t wait until we have enough evidence to prove it to people who, say, insist on believing in the biblical creation story until scientists can prove Genesis isn’t true beyond a reasonable doubt–in a court of law.

              You don’t wait to implement solutions to terrorism until after all the truthers out there have been satisfied that 9/11 wasn’t an inside job. If we waited to even consider possible solutions until that happened, we’d never do anything about terrorism!

              And that’s the kind of proof I’m seeing a lot of climate change deniers demanding at this point…

              When we’re looking to acquire a property, there are two levels of “proof”. There’s the proof we need that the property is worth closing on. And then there’s the proof we need that the project is worth spending the time and money to do due diligence on.

              We understand AGW at least well enough to spend the due diligence on it. Whether you want to close yet on any given solution, that’s another question entirely. But we understand the climate well enough to spend some money and time on due diligence for sure.

              1. So Ken it is your position that we should act on the climate even though we have no guarantee that there won’t be second order affects or even a 100% certainty that there is even a problem?

                That is nuts. And the height of hubris. To put it in your analogy about terrorism, sure we should do something about terrorism. But we should just do anything. I suppose you could argue that nuking the entire middle east would prevent future terrorism. But that might have some other effects we would like to avoid.

                1. “So Ken it is your position that we should act on the climate even though we have no guarantee that there won’t be second order affects or even a 100% certainty that there is even a problem?”

                  My position is that we have more than enough evidence to show that it’s a problem right now; however, it is not clear to me that the problem is big enough that the economic solutions being proposed by the left aren’t worse than the problem itself.

                  We certainly have enough evidence to suggest that the potential for a problem is big enough that we should be looking for ways to solve it–solutions that don’t involve the economy crushing proposals the left is advocating.

                  In the meantime, I argue that the only solutions to AGW that will work will necessarily involve capitalism and innovation. …and that whatever we can do to encourage economic growth and innovation is therefore a environmental issue.

                  1. What??? Just last month, CERN data on cosmic rays and the effects of the sun just trashed every single computer model of our climate yet produced, since not a single one of them take into account the sun’s role in developing our weather.

                    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2…..t_results/

                    You’re claiming that we “we shouldn’t wait until we have enough evidence to prove it to people who, say, insist on believing in the biblical creation story until scientists can prove Genesis isn’t true beyond a reasonable doubt–in a court of law“, but you don’t even have a working theory yet, just some guesses about something humans don’t understand yet.

                    I, for one, am not in favor of flushing all of human society down the crapper because you feel like it’s maybe a little bit warmer than it was when you were a kid.

                    1. Yeah I read this too. As if those computer models weren’t bad enough, CERN demolished any remaining credibility the may have had.

                  2. Allow profit-seeking corporations to collude with government to control the environment. What could go wrong?

                    1. “Allow profit-seeking corporations to collude with government to control the environment. What could go wrong?”

                      Again, that’s what the global warming alarmists on the left have been saying for years!

                      Do you climate change deniers have any idea how much you sound like the global warming alarmists?

                      Maybe I’ve got it wrong and you’re a global warming alarmist? If so, pardon me–but sometimes it’s really hard to tell you guys apart.

                  3. What is the ideal climate for the planet then? Please describe this in detail–what? you can’t? Then who the hell are you to think you can suggest that we should ‘engineer’ any climate at all?

                    1. “What is the ideal climate for the planet then? Please describe this in detail–what? you can’t? Then who the hell are you to think you can suggest that we should ‘engineer’ any climate at all?”

                      What’s the exact number of armed robberies we should tolerate every year in this country?

                      Because using your logic, if you can’t tell me exactly what number of armed robberies is ideal? Then the government shouldn’t do anything to try to deter armed robberies.

                    2. “What is the ideal climate for the planet then? Please describe this in detail–what? you can’t? Then who the hell are you to think you can suggest that we should ‘engineer’ any climate at all?”

                      I already responded to that!

                      What’s the ideal number of muggings every year?

                      I don’t want the government watching each and every one of us 24 hours a day–and that means there’s gonna be a certain amount of muggings every year.

                      Using your logic, if you can’t tell me in detail what the ideal number of muggings is–does that mean you don’t think we should do anything to deter muggers?!

                      Your logic is absurd.

              2. We understand AGW at least well enough to spend the due diligence on it.

                I agree with your general line of argument, but disagree with this statement. We dont even know if the A exists or not. Or the W, for that matter.

                The G is pretty solidly proven.

                1. Again, you don’t know. To claim superior knowledge to experts is to claim that you’re a greater expert than 98% of the world’s concerned scientists, which is real hubris.

                  1. You do realize that is the same line of reasoning used by the scientific community when Columbus said the earth wasn’t flat right? Or when Galileo said the earth revolved around the sun.

                    Oh and 98% of the world’s scientist DON’T agree that AGW exists or that the A is relevant.

                    1. You realize no one thought the earth was flat during Columbus’ era right?

                    2. Damn you public education!!!

                  2. “Again, you don’t know. To claim superior knowledge to experts is to claim that you’re a greater expert than 98% of the world’s concerned scientists, which is real hubris.”

                    You think experts know how much I’m willing to sacrifice to address this problem–even better than I do?!

                    You need to rethink that, Tony.

                    No expert is better at predicting what I’m willing to sacrifice for something–not better than I can.

                    Progressives and environmentalists refusing to recognize that fact is why climate change denial is such a big problem.

                    1. I think it’s safe to assume that most people’s answer to the question “what are you willing to sacrifice?” is somewhat near “nothing.”

                      What you’re unlikely to be able to calculate is the effects of your lifestyle on other people.

                    2. “I think it’s safe to assume that most people’s answer to the question “what are you willing to sacrifice?” is somewhat near “nothing.”

                      That’s absolutely false.

                      People buy hybrids for a premium that’s more expensive than what they save in gas.

                      People make charitable donations all the time. They pay more for produce that doesn’t harm the environment–people willingly make billions in sacrifices every day for things they care about. Without the government doing a thing to coerce them.

                      “What you’re unlikely to be able to calculate is the effects of your lifestyle on other people.”

                      That’s also false.

                      I turn my TV down at night so it doesn’t bother the neighbors. I hold doors for people. I do dozens of things every day–just to be considerate of other people. …none of which has anything to do with the government.

                    3. People buy hybrids for a premium that’s more expensive than what they save in gas.

                      This is off-topic to your (correct) main point, but any such tradeoff calculations depend on the buyers’ predictions of future gas prices. Maybe they want to save the planet, or maybe they’re more pessimistic than average about future inflation, oil scarcity, gas taxes, etc.

                    4. For a lot of them, I think it’s a fashion statement.

                      Buying a hybrid for a lot of them is like buying a BMW instead of a VW.

                      People pay more for stuff just because it’s “green”. Practically every product in the grocery store has at least one competitor trying to market itself as being the green option in one way or another.

                      It’s hip to be green–and marketers and capitalists are all over that. Yay capitalism!

                      When I see the government raising mileage standards or something, it often seems like a pathetic attempt to stay relevant on the issue. It’s like the government’s saying, “We matter too!”

                      Yeah, sure you’re still relevant. …meanwhile entrepreneurs continue quietly deploying geothermal heat pumps to eager customers–and working to actually solve the environmental problems people care about.

          2. Precognition?

            We must implement our solutions to find the problem.

            Genius!

          3. Ken what’s your contingency for an Alien Invasion? 😉

            1. …Or Cthulhu?

              1. Similar to your “Hotel Masseuse Response Plan” ?

                1. I was releasing my inner chakra.

            2. That’s just dumb. Look, we know it is possible for the climate to change in ways that might make life difficult for humans to live comfortably (what the cause is doesn’t matter). I think it is prudent to at least consider possible technical solutions to such problems, should they arise. Otherwise, as Ken points out, the only solutions that anyone will think of are the top down, socialist projects that we currently hear about.

              1. I think it is prudent to at least consider possible technical solutions to such problems, should they arise.

                evolve?

                1. Go extinct?

                  1. I’m partial to “move inland”. Oh, wait, I did that once already in the last couple of years.

                2. You damn dirty ape!

                3. Sure. Personally, I don’t really care that much if the coastal cities are going to be underwater in 100 years. Shit happens and people adapt. Even the most catastrophic climate predictions coming true won’t destroy the human race or even civilization. People can adapt to anything (we’re a tropical species who lives in the high arctic, for fuck’s sake).
                  But in this context, where something must always be done, it is good to flesh out some solutions that are compatible with continuing development and which might actually work. Assuming that the march of technological progress can continue indefinitely, I think it is inevitalble that at some point people will have to (or will anyway) do some engineering of the climate/weather.

              2. “Look, we know it is possible for the climate to change in ways that might make life difficult for humans to live comfortably”

                Check your premises. The IPCC’s report admits that about 50,000 fewer people will die of cold relate problems and that warming will create a net expansion arable land and extend growing seasons by 2100. Maybe we shouldn’t rush into things.

                1. Notice the “possibly” and “might” in what I said. I’m not counting on any particular thing happening.

                  But suppose the ice cap on Greenland or Antarctica started to rapidly melt. Yes, people could move inland and evolve and adapt. The world and the human race will be fine in the long run. But shit would be ugly for quite a while. I’m not saying that this is a likely scenario, and I understand that there are benefits to warming as well, but there certainly is the possibility that climate change could cause significant net harm to humanity.

                  1. All of these solutions assume the positive forcings of the computer models are real. More than one, when studied has turned out not to have positive feedback effect. Cloud formation and blackbody irradiation being the latest two. We know the models don’t hindcast well, nor do they forecast well. They fit the data they are given very well. But so what? Any computer can fit a polynomial to a line given a high enough order and a relatively simple error minimization function. You can even graph the data and know what the order has to be. The map is not the world. If you forget this, your turn-by-turn GPS may lead you over a cliff.

                    1. Blackbody radiation. My physics professor probably just kicked a puppy without knowing why.

            3. “Ken what’s your contingency for an Alien Invasion? ;)”

              We’ll make great pets.

          4. On the other hand, formulating solutions to problems we don’t understand, where the solutions have ancillary effects such as poverty and actual pollution (see: rare earths) is pretty damn incompetent.

            1. This is sorta a continuation of an ongoing discussion–suffice it to say that one of the biggest challenges we face as libertarians dealing with AGW issues is that people have come to associate AGW with socialist solutions so thoroughly that believing in AGW amounts to believing in socialism for a lot of people.

              If we can’t break that connection in our own minds? We’ll never be able to convince non-libertarians that they shouldn’t support socialism–should AGW turn out to be right as rain.

              In other words, Ron Bailey isn’t a socialist. I’m not a socialist. I believe in AGW, and I don’t want any socialist solutions to AGW at all.

              I don’t believe socialism is an appropriate solution to AGW or any other problem. I think libertarianism is the appropriate solution to AGW! And I find it really frustrating that I have to work so hard to convince my fellow libertarians of that.

              If all we pursue is climate change denial–and just let the left make all the policy prescriptions for AGW? Then what are we gonna do if AGW turns out to be real? What are we gonna do if the left gets its socialist policy prescriptions passed over our climate change denial objections?

              I’m not willing to give the Progressive and Co. that part of the battlefield without a fight.

              1. What are we gonna do if the Dogfishman turns out to be real??

                Possibly, the only person you are fooling with that crap stares at you every morning when you brush your teeth.

                1. Yeah, there’s as much evidence for AGW as there is for supernatural creatures.

                  Got it.

          5. We won’t know what’s in the bill until we pass it.

            Where have I heard that line of reasoning before?

          6. Or, we could decide to spend our limited funds seeking solutions to more pressing and well founded problems, like, oh I don’t know – poverty, hunger, disease.

            That’s “competent!” AND “reasonable!”

          7. no, coming up with solutions before problems even exist is known as liberalism. Then, you can tell folks how much worse things would have been had no action been taken. It’s sort of like science, only different.

            1. “no, coming up with solutions before problems even exist is known as liberalism.”

              Not formulating prescriptions for potential problems before they arise isn’t just incompetent–it’s childish.

              This is the way irresponsible people and children think.

              1. and creating policy based on imagined problems is how govt thinks. The only evidence is temp charts; there is no data that shows harm, cause, potential effects, etc.

                1. “The only evidence is temp charts; there is no data that shows harm, cause, potential effects, etc.”

                  You seem to be having a problem differentiating between conclusions you disagree with and…ahem…data.

                  Disagreeing with the conclusions for various reasons is what science is all about–but if you don’t think there’s any data to support the conclusion that AGW is problem? Then you’ve talked yourself into one hell of a whopper!

                  1. I think most people could agree that the earth is warming. No surprise there since it’s basically been happening since the end of the last major ice age (the Little Ice Age not withstanding). The problem I think most people have is if humans are actually responsible or not.

      2. Ken,

        At least socialism is reversible. If we engage in climate engineering, there is no guarantee that the effects of it would be reversible. Suppose we do some engineering and it turns out that AGW is completely wrong and we are actually headed to an Ice age that we just made worse? Any engineering efforts are going to affect the earth in totally unpredictable ways. And if the effort is large enough to counteract AGW, the second order effects could be devastating.

        Spoof? Are you are spoof? Are you nuts?

        1. Socialism may be reversible, but it’s way more insane than looking at climate engineering options…

          Climate engineering, for instance, will probably involve some innovation, giving us new and better solutions–that don’t involve socialism.

          The worst thing you can say about climate engineering from where I’m standing is that would necessarily involve socialism. That might make me worried about climate engineering.

          Trying to fix the climate more insane than socialism?

          No way!

          1. Ken, study is different than doing. Fucking with an enormous complex system that you have little understanding of and affects the lives of every living thing on earth, is the height of hubris and insanity.

            1. “Fucking with an enormous complex system that you have little understanding of and affects the lives of every living thing on earth, is the height of hubris and insanity.”

              That’s exactly what the global warming alarmists have been saying for years!

              So I guess you agree with them now?

              1. And if they could prove that our release of CO2 was actually fucking with the climate in a significant way, they would have a point.

          2. ‘Fix the climate…”
            Wow Ken, I dont even know where to start on that one.

        2. I will have to agree with Ken on one point. Socialism is way more insane than investigating GW or CC. Now actually trying to do something about either of those…I guess we will find out sooner or later.

        3. “If we engage in climate engineering, there is no guarantee that the effects of it would be reversible”

          If we engage in governmental policies to reverse warming, costing billions more, we will have achieved the same thing, so what’s the difference? Plus, you’re assuming a couple of things that are obviously false. If the climate starts cooling futher than what seems the norm, we stop doing what we are doing. We also continue the process of scientific innovation no matter what direction the climate is going. We keep putting new tools in the box and/or refining the tools we have. This is simply how any progress works but efforts to block this have always been around as well (pulling out similar arguments to yours). I know what we should do. Just leav

          e nature completely alone as it’s not like nature causes us any problems. Long live the precautionary principle!

      3. Then you misunderstand the meaning of the word ‘reasonable’.

      4. Actually we don’t have some idea how the climate works or we wouldn’t constantly be baffled by storms and temperatures being “record breaking” or “massively devestaional”. All we kind of know is that the climate cycles. We don’t know when or for how long. Hell, most meteorologist can’t accurately predict tomorrows weather.

        This of course does not preclude us studying GW or CC. I think it’s valid to study lots of things. But claiming there is a problem that needs a solution yesterday seems a tad bit…radical.

      5. Re: Ken Schultz,

        Studying ways to counteract AGW seems pretty reasonable to me.

        I am thinking of a way to counteract something just as likely: The falling droppings from Santa’s reindeer.

        Just as likely.

    3. We have no idea how the climate actually works.

      Maybe you don’t know.

      1. No, Tony,

        Nobody knows, not even the so-called experts.

    4. All except the “plant more trees” part, John. Even if it has no effect on the environment it’s cheap and harmless.

      Plus, since it’s labor-intensive and low-tech it could occupy a lot of the enviros’ time to keep them from causing more mischief.

      1. That is better than some. But even that will have effects. If you plant trees, won’t you the have to reduce the amount of arable land? How do you plan to grow enough food?

        1. Culling the heard mitigates this problem.

        2. Didn’t say anything about reducing cropland. Look, I’m only advocating for this as the least-bad of the choices RB enumerated.

        3. “If you plant trees, won’t you the have to reduce the amount of arable land? How do you plan to grow enough food?”

          Grow apple trees.

          1. Johny Appleseed would approve!

            1. I totally should have done that as a joke handle instead -10

        4. If you don’t have enough farmland, start cutting down trees again. Then you have farmland and usable timber.
          In a lot of places where deforestation is a problem, the trees were not cut down for farm land, but for fuel or timber. No problem re-planting in those places.
          Advances in agriculture technology will make it so even less farm land is required to feed everyone. Farming is not necessarily the best use of land. Forests are valuable in many ways beyond capturing CO2 or being a consumable resource. Having clean water depends heavily on good forests in many places, for example.

          1. Plus it provides places to hunt cute little woodland creatures like rabbits and deer.

        5. We got plenty of highway median nobody’s growing anything on.

          1. Where are the enviros gonna put their bullet trains that run on unicorn farts if you fill the medians with trees!

            Cmon, T. Think!

          2. There shouldn’t be anything in a freeway median for an errant vehicle to collide with.

            And for lower speed arterial roads it’s kind of helpful not to restrict sight lines. In many places, like approaching intersections, it’s a bad idea to have any median plantings that are higher than the bottom of a car’s windows.

            1. Most major highways that don’t just have the concrete barriers have some kind of vegetation in the medians. They help reduce sun glare so drivers can actually see the road. As far as arterials, you could plant trees where they wouldn’t restrict sight lines.

      2. This is fair. Unless we’re using invasive species of trees.

        1. Replant native species. Duh.

          1. What if they don’t grow fast enough? 😉

            1. Bradford pears for everyone!

              1. Oh, good. Now the whole continent can smell like fish when spring rolls round.

      3. Ginko trees supposedly scrub the air of pollutants. And I thought all plant life required CO2 to survive. This seems like a no brainer to me to reduce the effect of carbon emissions.

    5. The key is to use one that’s easily reversible. And most of these are pretty trivial to reverse.

      1) Direct air capture of CO2 with geologic sequestration ? To reverse, just open the spigot

      (2) Bioenergy with CO2 capture and sequestration – See (1)

      (3) Biochar and biomass methods ? Dig it up.

      (4) Land-use management (reforestation, afforestation, or reductions in deforestation) – Chop down and burn the trees

      (4) Terrestrial reflectivity ? Roll up the desert tarp and repaint the roofs.

      1. So, let me get this straight, we should implement the ones that are easiest to reverse because the only thing better than wasting billions on pseudo-solutions is to waste billions more reversing them?

        Brilliant!

        1. Bass ackwards, TIT: Working from the premise that the enviros will force some form of “remediation” on us we choose the least harmful, most cheap to reverse.

      2. I don’t think we necessarily have to use just one either…

        Usually, when I have a problem like this? I’ll make a list of all the possible solutions, and then I start working on them–not starting at the top of the list. I try all the ones I can at the same time!

        The ones I think are most likely to work often don’t for some unforeseen reason, and the ones I think are least likely to work sometimes end up savin’ my ass!

        And I only need one of them to work.

        The odd thing is that in this list, I don’t think they’re even talking about implementation yet–it looks like they’re just making the list.

        If I have anything to complain about, it’s why this list wasn’t put together years ago. We’re this deep into the debate, and the GAO is just now getting around to looking at the viability of various options?!

        That’s a bit like not bothering to formulate a plan for invading Iran until after they’ve launched missiles at us or something.

        1. Greenies, Socialists, Progressives and Statists of various stripes….if we plow all of them under we would be removing a large percentage of CO2 production….its a win-win.
          They get to be instrumental in solving the ‘problem’, and we get to live our lives as we see fit.

        2. Ken, I would like to point out that a libertarian solution to this problem does exist, it’s just not the one that progressives want to see, so they don’t. It’s just a fundamental part of being a progressive in that the mind shuts down when fundamental assumptions are questioned.

          Let’s assume for a moment that global warming is going to change things. Let’s assume that the IPCC 3C value is correct. What then ? If you are some vapid progressive, you jump up and down and insist that the government do something … anything. The solutions will probably work exactly as well as progressive solutions usually do. Money goes into their backers pockets, government agencies and third parties gain more power, the tax payer gets soaked and nothing gets fixed.

          The libertarian solution to this is to do exactly nothing. Individuals will follow their own best interests, and if extreme weather gets too much for them to handle, they will move. If production suffers, prices and incentives will adjust accordingly. It is always worth remembering that if the damage is widely distributed and difficult even to detect and classify, any sort of intervention is just as likely to be counter productive.

          So rather than go full progressive, activist retard and decide libertarians need a plan. I claim we have more plans than the progressives. We have 300 million of them in fact. Let everyone plan and execute for what they think will happen and everything will at least be better than some centrally planed progressive clusterfuck.

          1. “The libertarian solution to this is to do exactly nothing.”

            I mostly agree with what you’re saying, although I’d argue that keeping the government out of the way and letting individuals and businesses solve their own problems–better than any top down solution could ever be? That’s not “doing nothing”.

            We’re not talking about doing nothing. Investors are financing all sorts of technological breakthroughs from ultracapacitors to solar panels. Private individuals are paying extra for hybrid versions of cars–more than they save in gas! They’re not doing it because the government makes them–they’re doing it because they care about the environment and because they think it’s fashionable to look like they care about the environment.

            That’s not “doing nothing”. Southern California being wired with smart meters–at the local utility company’s expense–so that they can charge people significantly less to charge their electric cars in the middle of the night? …so that the utilities can compete with the gas companies to provide energy for family cars…that’s not “doing nothing”. KB Home offering charging stations as an option in its new homes for sale? That’s not “doing nothing”.

            People turning their thermostats down at night in response to price signals and doubling up on blankets–that’s not “doing nothing”.

            There’s a world of things people are doing to substitute away from carbon intensive activity. And there’s no reason NOT to think that more government involvement will simply make such transitions away from carbon intensive activities more inefficient.

            But I don’t think we should refer to those solutions as “doing nothing”. I think we should refer to those solutions as “capitalism”.

            P.S. I’d get rid of the income tax and replace it with a sales tax on carbon emissions too. I’ve been hoping to replace the income tax with a sales tax since I was too young to vote and no one had ever heard of global warming. If the only way we’re ever going to get rid of the income tax is by replacing it with a sales tax on carbon emissions? Then I’m okay with that.

            If they eliminate the income tax, I’ll sign on to a sales tax on carbon emissions–but that’s the ONLY way I’d sign on. Start with the bottom tier of taxpayers if they have to, but getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with a sales tax is something we should be doing to make our economy grow anyway–AGW or no AGW.

    6. That is a very good analogy.

    7. We have no idea how the climate actually works.

      Completely untrue.

      1. Bullshit. We have no idea. If we had ideas, we could make predictions with precisions. Also there wouldn’t be the long running debate concerning the effects of cosmic rays. Sure we have some idea of the basic mechanics. But you are completely deluding yourself if you think we have the type of understanding necessary to safely engineer the climate.

        1. There have been 17 predictions of rain this summer with at least 60% certainty where I live, and not one has materialized. It is so dry here that large pines are beginning to turn brown.

          1. You must live near me.

        2. Its possible to fully understand something AND be unable to make predictions.

          For example, if it operates in a chaotic regime. Which weather (not climate) sometimes (much of the time, in fact) does.

          Which is why under “normal” circumstances, weathermen are generally clueless past about 3 days.

          1. Such “understanding” is useless. And if you can’t predict what it will do since, how can you predict what it would do if?

            1. Mandlebrot used such “useless” understanding to come up with better risk analysis for investing.

        3. If we had ideas, we could make predictions with precisions.

          The prediction was that adding GHGs to the atmosphere would cause global warming, and that global warming would follow a specific pattern. That pattern would be warmer land, warmer oceans, smaller ice, warmer lower atmosphere, cooler upper atmosphere, and nights warming faster than days. Radiation from Earth would be reduced, and it would be reduced in the range absorbed by methane and carbon dioxide.

          And we have seen exactly through, thanks to satellite data. Nights are warming faster than days, ice is shrinking, land and oceans are warming, the upper atmosphere is cooler, and the radiation decline is in the range absorbed by methane and carbon dioxide. All of this has happened while the sun’s output has declined and the cosmic ray cycle has been stable.

          You just don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

          1. JP,

            You said “All of this has happened while the sun’s output has declined and the cosmic ray cycle has been stable.”

            This isn’t true at all. The sun had one of its largest flares in years a couple weeks ago. We have a very bad track record of predicting solar activity over time and our understanding of the “when” in terms of this activity is akin to rolling dice.

            1. The sun had one of its largest flares in years a couple weeks ago.

              What the sun does on a particular day doesn’t explain a series of cycles. Here’s the chart, a one-page pdf: Cosmic Ray Cycles. It’s stable.

              1. Except the Cycle predictions have been wrong.

                Team leader Dr. Mausumi Dikpati of NASA’s National Center for Atmospheric Research and Solar physicist Dr. David Hathaway of the National Space Science & Technology Center predicted, back in March 2006, that SC24 would start by the end of 2006 or early 2007 and would peak 30% to 50% higher than SC23, which would yield counts of 156 to 180. The latest prediction is 64. The solar minimum was one of the longest on record.

                What we do know is that the cycle is around 11 years between polar shifts. What we don’t know and have difficulty predicting is the “how much/how weak/strong” will the cycle be.

      2. We have a general idea that the climate cycles back and forth between glacial and interglacial (warmer) periods. Having 30 years of satellite temperature data, perhaps 75 years of global temperature data, and some studies of the mechanisms is not a level of understanding of how the climate works on a level of, say, understanding Newton’s Laws and chemical reactions well enough to build and launch a satellite. Only instead of failures crashing back down to a pad in the middle of nowhere with an appropriate cleared and controlled safe zone, they want to just go ahead and test on the whole world. What could possibly go wrong?

  4. What’s their assessment of using Giant Killer Robots to thin out the human herd?

    1. A definite “yes”.

  5. Ron,

    Any idea why they didn’t rate “planting more trees” as a mature technology?

    As a AGW/Catastrophy skeptic I could get behind this because it’s cheap and harmless even if it doesn’t achieve the enviros’ imagined goals.

  6. This will stop Manbearpig … I mean global warming. I am super serial.

    Excelsior

    1. Once, while visiting British Guyana, I was warned in serious, hushed tones by the ‘natives’ about walking near the Cuyuni river at night, for fear of the Dogfishman.

      I have never heard of this Manbearpig you mention.

      1. It is a reference to an episode of the cartoon South Park:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manbearpig

        1. Ah, ok. I dont watch tv much.

        2. According to Eric Pooley in his 2010 book The Climate War, ManBearPig is “a common reference in the Denialosphere”

          Ooh, the Denialosphere. That’s a new one to me. How cute.

      2. Have you heard of the Ant-Man-Bee?.

  7. We pay people to think about this crap?

    1. Not only that, but when one of their responses is “you should definitely pay people to think about this crap” we seriously consider it.

    2. even better…we pay people to tell the rest of us what to think about this crap.

  8. Tell ya what. Once we get models that can accurately forecast and hindcast — a decent guarantee that we know all of the factors and their interactions — then we can start fucking with things. This is like trying to build a bridge out of something that might be concrete, randomly distributing pilllars and hoping that it doesnt collapse after people start using it.

  9. Nuclear winter is the solution to global warming!

    1. I’m intrigued by your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  10. Of course the ‘majority of experts’ want more research done.

    Uhhh, I wonder why? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    1. As long as the research is cheaper than any of the proposed solutions and delays implementation of those solutions it’s far preferable to implementation.

      In the real world where our only choice is between a number of bad options, we choose the least bad of those.

    2. And the majority of science writers, too, for the same reasons.

  11. Pirates steal sand from Cambodia
    By Patrick Winn, GlobalPost

    Where once there was seabed, hotels, a casino and airport rise off Singapore’s coast.

    But as the tiny island city-state dumps sand on its shores, expanding its territory already by one-fifth, there are increasing claims that Singapore is illegally buying up soil through corrupt channels in Cambodia.

    The latest to push these claims is the Associated Press, which reports that foreign vessels were spotted dredging up Cambodian sand for apparent export. The dredging, largely banned in 2009 for eating up Cambodian territory, appears to persist.

    An AP reporter tracked or spotted vessels registered in Hong Kong, Vietnam and China dredging in Cambodia. Locals in one coastal province “joked about going to Singapore and planting a Cambodian flag there,” according to the report.

    A U.K.-based watchdog group, Global Witness, has done the most to expose this practice.

    But despite the government’s ban, the group said vessels are still scooping up Cambodian soil and selling it abroad with zero benefit to Cambodian citizens.

    >Rising sea levels throughout the Southeast Asian tropics will likely increase the future demand for sandy soil, dumped along coastlines to reclaim territory.

    http://globalpublicsquare.blog…..=allsearch

    1. “But despite the government’s ban, the group said vessels are still scooping up Cambodian soil and selling it abroad with zero benefit to Cambodian citizens.”

      You are not suggesting that a government-based solution is ineffective are you? Are you suggesting that a solution other than governmental activity might be more effective?

      1. The Saudis have LOTS of sand…

        1. Does this mean Singapore will go to war in the Middle East to satisfy their insatiable dependence on foreign sand?

          1. Not Singapore per se.

  12. CERN scientists say the climate models have to be changed to include the role of cosmic rays in cloud formation. All of this time and money we’re spending worrying about co2 is likely wasted.

    1. I do like how this article came out today, the same day as the Nature article from CERN.

      Too bad reason has not linked to it in an earlier post?

    2. Funnier still, we don’t exactly know why or how the Sun does what it does, especially in regards to cosmic rays, so we can’t even predict when that variable changes.

      1. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s our fault…so, action plans, everyone!

  13. So, it’s 2011, and we still lack–

    * Fusion
    * Flying cars
    * True AI
    * A Moonbase
    * Weather control

    1. but we do have the ability to tase civilians that get mouthy.

    2. Even more scary is this – we are only four years away from October 21, 2015 when Doctor Emmett Brown and Marty McFly will arrive from the 1980’s in their DeLorean time machine.

    3. Jetpacks Pro. Jetbacks. How can you forget jetbacks?

      1. Jet packs fall under the category of flying cars. Like Robo butlers fall under AI.

      2. Not a comprehensive list.

        1. NOW he tells us…

        2. Zero gravity boots go to the top of that list. We should all be light in the loafers by now.

          1. “I hear even cowboys are now sexually liberated beings comfortable with being called homos.”

            1. So long as Cowgirl means the same thing as it has always meant i will be content.

    4. Don’t forget the life-like, programmable, robot wives.

      1. I thought they had those already?

        Also not on the list was immortality, invulnerability, godlikeness, etc.

        1. Really by now we should just be brains suspended in bodies of pure energy with all of reality at our command.

          1. That may have already happened, you know.

            1. Nah. This is not the world I would dream.

              1. It is, actually. Well, at least one of them. First, why do you think it’d be a ‘dream’? Sleep was relegated to more dormant areas a long time ago. That way you can cycle parts of yourself into rest mode without having to induce overall dormancy.

                Second, why would you think there’d be only one?

                You are currently engaged on an infinity of worlds–though you’ve limited ‘Brett L’ activity to only a few hundred quintillion.

                So, enjoy yourselve, don’t be so stuffy.

  14. How are we ever supposed to know the details of how the climate works if we don’t experiment on it?

  15. Technology and complexity are subject to the law of diminishing returns, which civilization has already passed. Ready for collapse?

    Thesis #14: Complexity is subject to diminishing returns.
    Thesis #15: We have passed the point of diminishing returns.
    Thesis #19: Complexity ensures collapse.
    http://rewild.info/anthropik/thirty/

    1. Nothing to see here folks. Just move along, don’t stare and stay behind the barriers please.

    2. Re: White Inbecile,

      You would be crying like a little girl the moment you have to clean your clothed by hitting them against a rock in the river, you stupid fuck.

    3. Burn the looms, Ned!

  16. I liked them better when they were the Government Accounting Office.

  17. The really want social engineering, nothing would be as devastating for the green movement if some billionaire funded a project that sucked the CO2 from the atmosphere to levels that supposedly are correct.

  18. Transporters are emission-free. That’s what we should have.

    Also, a magic hat synthesis device out of which to pull manufactured goods.

    1. With transporters, we could beam stuff we don’t want on Earth into space–nuclear waste, pollutants, carbon, unmutual people.

  19. In closely related news, 10 out of 10 scientists we surveyed said they should get research grants.

  20. What could go wrong?

  21. I thought science used that silly thing called the scientific method.
    You know: Hypothesis -> Experiments -> Data -> Conclusion

    Climate “science” seems to have it backward.

    Conclusion: Human activity is causing climate change.
    Data: Tree rings and satellite readings.
    Experiment: Computer models
    Hypothesis: Here’s what we do to fix it.

    WTF?

    1. WTF? We are winning the future dude!

    2. that’s the point. The scientific method accounts for the possibility that the hypothesis may not be supported. The absence of that possibility with AGW ‘science’ should be the only red flag anyone needs.

      1. But, but, but… Experts! … Consensus! …

      2. This. Until it’s been tested and proves predictive, a model is just an elegant way to present one or more complex hypotheses.

  22. You know who else wanted to engineer things?

  23. Run for the hills, the alarmists are coming!

    1. Run to the hills, the alarmists are coming!

      FTFY

      1. Isn’t that White Indian’s theme song?

      2. WTF is up with that cover???

        Eddie and Satan would never fight.

  24. Great. Now I won’t have to get my ass to Mars. I’ll have to buy Kochhaagen air on Earth

  25. The Corp of Army Engineers intentionally flooded the crap out of middle America this year destroying homes, crops, land, simply because it felt like it.

    I really do not trust the government to have its hands on the “start an ice age” switch.

  26. Fact #1: For most of Earth’s history the planet has been completely ice-free. No ice caps, no snow fall… ever.

    Fact #2: Plants since their evolution have been dramatically altering the make-up of Earth’s biosphere. Part of that altercation has been slowly sequestering carbon into Earth’s lithosphere (locked away from the normal carbon cycle)

    Fact 3#: Carbon sequestering finally reached a tipping point several million years causing ice to regularly form on the surface.

    Fact #4: During this Ice Age; Intelligence becomes a successful evolutionary trait for the first in Earth’s history.

    Assumption #1: Human evolution is direct response to planet cooling.

    Fact #5: Human intelligence is the only known biological process that releases long sequestered carbon back into the atmosphere.

    Assumption #2: Releasing of sequestered carbon returns earth to pre-ice age state.

    Assumption #3: Planet again becomes hospitable for return of Dinosaurs.

    Assumption #4: Dinosaurs eat the humans.

    Assumption #5: Cycle repeats.

  27. The arguments against climate and weather engineering remind me of the arguments against genetic engineering. “We don’t know every possible outcome yet, so we shouldn’t do it.” Kind of like the argument against any big technological breakthrough or scientific advance. “Oh no, what will this lead to, this automobile, this IVF, this…fire?!” It will lead to change and some problems that arise because of those changes and then we will seek new approaches to those problems and so on. Adaptation isn’t just limited to moving and changing clothes.

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