What technologists can do about climate change

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/16/what-technologists-can-do-abou.html


This is very inspiring.

But when we have the likes of James “Laughable Bumblefuck” Inhofe scornfully fondling a snowball on the Senate floor, I nearly despair of getting anything done.

The Republican Tribe will go far beyond refusing to cooperate in the mitigation of the climate disaster we’re cooking up for ourselves. They will actively and vigorously oppose any such action.


I worry that they’re going to add more fees to solar and wind, and add more subsidies to oil and coal…

See the concern about the collapse of coal and fishing industries because the collapse of ways of life, the subsidies to continue fishing, etc.

P.S. Even in reader view, this has fouled-up formatting, with text overlapping text.


Attended a webinar recently with Dr John Sterman of MIT’s Sloan School who oversees the open source online simulation for climate change at http://climateinteractive.org
He plugged in ALL the commitments needed to make the Paris COP-21 work and found that it would NOT keep the world within the 1.5 - 2º C temperature rise from preindustrial times as a global average that the agreement was aiming for. So, new energy technology is necessary but not sufficient to do what we need to stop or even reverse climate change.

However, there is another idea out there which just might provide what is needed in combination with a transition to renewables away from fossil fuels. According to reputable soil scientists like Rattan Lal of Ohio State University, there are agricultural and forestry techniques we already know about which could reduce atmospheric carbon to preindustrial levels (270ppm) within a few decades IF we deployed them globally and consistently. There is an academic text on this topic available, Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase (https://www.crcpress.com/Geotherapy-Innovative-Methods-of-Soil-Fertility-Restoration-Carbon-Sequestration/Goreau-Larson-Campe/p/book/9781466595392).

This idea has been taken up by the organic farming movement and is sometimes known as regenerative agriculture. There are groups like Biodiversity for a Livable Climate (http://bio4climate.org) which have been publicizing these ideas and performing practical experiments using them. Biodiversity for a Livable Climate has been organizing conferences around these ideas for the last few years, advancing geotherapeutic measures to improve soil fertility and surface and groundwater systems while taking carbon out of the air and sequestering it in the soil. Their next conference is coming up in November at Harvard, “Restoring Oceans, Restoring Climate: Facing Fire & Ice, Food & Water, Floods & Droughts” and all the proceedings from their previous conferences are available at their website: http://bio4climate.org

Some of the best scientists and practitioners working in this field have attended and presented and their work is eye-opening. They truly believe we can stop climate change and even reverse it.

This Fall Harvard is once again offering a seminar on geoengineering. Having attended previous seminars there on this topic and knowing the views of scientists like Dr David Keith, I know that most students of geoengineering have not yet recognized the possibilities presented by a geothereupetic approach and, in some cases, are dismissive of them without any consideration I can see.

As a solar enthusiast since the 1970s, yes yes yes we need an energy transition and it is happening now faster than we imagined. But it won’t be enough. We need geotherapy and regenerative agriculture, a regenerative not simply a sustainable mindset.

If anyone is interested, I have written a short piece on the affordability of eliminating basic energy poverty (reading light, cell phone, extra battery) within the next three to five years at http://solarray.blogspot.com/2016/07/solar-electric-power-to-people.html
This is also eminently doable and could be initiated person to person through existing buy one/give one programs for small scale solar devices.


Saul Griffith’s recent extremely detailed “map” of USA energy use

I worry that they’re going to add more fees to solar and wind, and add more subsidies to oil and coal…

Sometime in the late-'90s I attended a conference on solar energy and someone there – I don’t remember who – said “you’ll know that solar energy has made it when they start taxing it.”

He probably borrowed the line from someone else.

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