Questions about the efficacy of geoengineering were the focus of a recent article on Huffington Post, entitled “The Dangerous Belief That Extreme Technology Will Fix Climate Change.” Our take here at ClimateYou is that Geoengineering is not the answer to climate change. Thinking that a technological fix will stop global climate warming is a fantasy. Technology does not and cannot address the underlying causes of climate change: capitalism, civilization, and the notion of progress. Long-term sustainability of the Earth as a viable habitat for humans and other life forms depends on responsible stewardship of the resources of the Earth. We cannot keep depleting those resources indefinitely. They are vast, but not inexhaustible. We cannot only consume; we must also replenish. We cannot forever pollute the air, land, and ocean. The Earth’s biosystem is complex, and has the ability to regenerate some of its resources. We can help or hinder that capacity. Human life was once characterized as “poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Yet humans have, over the centuries, improved their lot. While many still live in poverty, unsure of their next meal, more and more humans, however, have achieved living conditions with at least minimal levels of food security, clothing, and shelter from the elements. And many more live lives of comfort, security, and opportunity undreamed of by our ancestors. Can such munificence be maintained, and expanded to include all of humanity without causing a collapse in the carrying capacity of the Earth? Climate scientists say yes, if we stop burning fossil fuels which spews into the atmosphere billions of tons of greenhouse gases that trap heat and cause global temperatures to rise. The sun provides much more energy than we need to maintain our current or any anticipated lifestyles; we don’t need carbon-based energy. Effecting an energy transition will not be easy; the fossil fuel industry is large, powerful, and pervasive. Curbing its power means challenging some of the basic tenets of capitalism, exerting uncommon amounts of political will, and instilling a new ethos of sustainability in all of humanity. By tomorrow or the day after — we don’t have much time before the bill for our profligate overspending of the Earth’s vast but ultimately limited resources comes due with increasingly intolerable pollution, droughts, heatwaves, floods, storms, famines, mass migrations, and political unrest. That’s what will befall us if we don’t act decisively now to curb carbon emissions. Geoengineering alone won’t save us, but a combination of politics, economics, and sociology, together with appropriate technology can, and must.
Last week about 20 students stood next to small, blank canvases placed on tables. They were about to pour paint of various colors onto the canvases as part of a unique approach to understanding climate change. The students were in their weekly Natural Disasters class taught by Professor