Is geoengingeering a bad idea whose time has come?

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Oh hell no.

The only “geoengineering” thing I can think of that might possibly work is planting a metric shit-ton of trees.

Everything else I’ve seen proposed is so energy-intensive that it will be worse than the problem.


Try building a few biodomes that work before you graduate to re-engineering Starship Earth.


Geoengineering is going to become the comfort food that will allow people to feel good about not doing anything about the problem. Like recycling was for plastic bottles. I look forward to many Chevron greenwashing ads about all the “research” they’re doing on geoengineering “for a better world for our children”. There will be white people walking through forests and people in lab coats and hard hats.


It’s worth talking about, but I assume the people with the most useful contributions to make are talking about it.

But until we’re talking about specific, robust proposals with strong support from relevant experts, I don’t think much good would come from the general public debating it. We’d just have partisan yelling over vaguely-defined schemes long before it was even clear whether those schemes would work or be achievable.

Although, I guess it might make people prioritise the issue if they saw we were at the point of thinking about blocking out the sun because we can’t reduce emissions enough.

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That’s a very nicely done video. For more on this, I recommend Alan Robock’s classic paper:

BTW I just started reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest, The Ministry for The Future, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the idea of geoengineering a “double Pinatubo” comes up right near the start of the book. I’m hooked - keen to see KSR’s vision of how this would play out…


Thanks! I’m looking for something to read.

Geotherapy not geoengineering, please.

Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase

The proceedings of these recent conferences organized by Biodiversity for a Livable Climate explore many geotherapeutic practices besides soil carbon sequestration:

The advantages of geotherapy are that it tends to work at all scales, from a flowerpot or a stream to thousands of hectares and the ocean, that individuals can practice it, and that, if done consistently and globally, it has the possibility of reducing atmospheric carbon to pre-industrial levels (270 ppm) by the end of this century while improving the soil, crop production, and cleaning the waters.

I’ve monitored Harvard and MIT on climate and energy since the late 1970s. “Geotherapy” is a term that NEVER comes up at such places unless I mention it. Many of the most respected experts don’t even know the term.


Sure, why not. And if doesn’t work, there is always nuclear winter.

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If it wasn’t the full moon that gave us two perfectly sunny days for Halloween bookended by rainfall warnings, it was geoenginneering.
Silver iodide works like a hot damn.

There’s a saying about complex systems. You can never change just one thing.

That said, it’s a little weird to talk about ‘geoengineering’ in the future tense when what we’ve been doing, by any reasonable definition, qualifies.

Something like a 3rd of the population can afford to not be dead because of aggressive nitrogen cycle tweaking; carbon cycle tweaking is notorious; and dams have displaced enough water that you can detect the orbital wobble.

The question being asked isn’t so much “So, how 'bout that geoengineering, eh?” but “So, what about we try geoengineering that un-geoengineers the geoengineering we’ve been doing?”.

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I think we should try it. :thinking:



I think it’s just a matter of time.

The cost of seeding the upper atmosphere with sulphur dioxide is something like $2 billion/year. Counters CO2 concentration for the whole planet, though with unintended consequences as well, for sure.

The floodgate system that Venice just put into operation had something like a $4-5 billion pricetag all in, plus ongoing costs, to protect one city. One. That just doesn’t scale.

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There’s a reason why the Genesis Project is forbidden.


That was exactly the point that Kurzgesagt made in their video. The potential for a rebound effect if we try to engineer our way out of this is very very real.

This gets to the heart of it. A salient difference between the historical form and the proposed mitigation efforts is one of intentionality and accountability. All the collective dumping of carbon wasn’t intended to result in atmospheric heating, but if we begin to act with collective intelligence and attempt to reverse some of the most undesirable effects of that - then it will almost certainly be met with resistance from the parties that would stand to lose extremely local benefits from the current disaster (temperate climates in previously harsh winter areas etc), and would likely open up some novel forms of climate related litigation. The various active methods of carbon sequestration seem a lot more targeted than the sunlight shielding propositions, (i.e. the aforementioned nuclear winter effect).

I’d bet it’s pretty much a dead certainty that there would be unpredictable & unintended consequences - just the wide differences in thermal mass of air vs. oceans and the different time scales involved in shifting those systems means we haven’t yet seen the the full effects of the heat that has already been added to the system.

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