Excuse me. Do you mind if I turn your blue skies white? Why spend all that money on wind farms and insulation? Keep on driving, brothers and sisters, because Big Science is going to fix global warming.
While they talk up a new Manhattan project to block out the Sun, it's another year of multi-billion dollar profits for the coal and oil companies. Stall, stall, stall, while the money rolls in!
Welcome to Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith. In this program, we'll dig into geoengineering - the industrialization of the climate. You'll hear top climate scientist Alan Robock. He's got a laundry list of reasons why trying to control the climate may not be such a good idea. Diana Bronson of the ETCgroup joins us, to counter the Academies and think tanks pushing geoengineering.
Alan Robock's reply to Bjorn Lomborg, Eric Brickell and Lee Lane's "science" of geoengineering (at realclimate.org).
Royal Society press release and report "Stop emitting CO2 or geoengineering could be our only hope." 28 Aug 2009
Bjorn Lomborg's errors site: A comprehensive list of errors and flaws in Bjorn Lomborg´s book: The Skeptical Environmentalist, compiled by biologist Kaare Fog
From Joe Romm's Climate Progress blog: British coal flack doubts global warming, but says let's use geoengineering so we don't have to stop burning carbon...
Scientist Ken Caldeira's response to the Lomborg Report (via climateprogress.org)
ETCgroup press release "The Royal Society’s Report on Geoengineering the Climate: Geoengineering or Geopiracy?"
Risks of geoengineering to precipitation changes - Susan Solomon via climateprogress.org
In this week's program won't hear Bjorn Lomborg - the self-styled "skeptical environmentalist" now pushing projects to reduce the Sun's rays reaching Earth. I invited Mr. Lomborg to do an interview, but he was too busy. I believe he is busy. Lomborg has op-eds and interviews going in all the major media. Newsweek and Time magazine love him. Newspapers print his words uncritically.
In early September, Lomborg was at the White House to meet Joe Aldy, special assistant to the president for energy and the environment.
Bjorn Lomborg knows the major governments of the world, the IPCC, and all those other carbon cutters - are on the wrong track. Lomborg doesn't dispute that rapid global warming is upon us. But cutting greenhouse gas emissions is much too expensive he says. Citing a report written for his organization, called the "Copenhagen Consensus" - Bjorn Lomborg has a half dozen good reasons why we should just keep on burning gas, oil, and coal.
Known for his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist", Lomborg has summoned elite economists to determine the world's priority needs. Wonder of wonders, climate change is way down the list, they say, compared to treating tropical diseases and working on poverty. Let's do that first, and big America corporate donors, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are glad to take his advice. No need to upset Exxon Mobil or Peabody Coal.
Now Lomborg has a report on geoengineering, which he commissioned. He calls it science, others disagree. Let's go to one of the prime contributors from the blog realclimate.org - world-famous climate scientist, Alan Robock.
Alan Robock has posted a rebuttal of Bjorn Lomborg's latest attempt at climate science, at realclimate.org. Just type in Lomborg, L o m b o r g, in the realclimate search box.
Geoengineering - humans trying to run planetary systems - in this case the climate. In an article in the British newspaper The Telegraph on August 7th, 2009, Bjorn Lomborg claims it is way cheaper to block off the Sun, than to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
Lomborg isn't a climate denier - he agrees we're in trouble. He's a climate delayer - with almost every reason an oil company executive could think of, to wait a longer before pricing carbon, capping emissions, or going to sustainable energy.
In the Telegraph article, we are told a fleet of so-called "cloud ships" will stop global warming by injecting sea water into the lower atmosphere. The droplets would create large white clouds, blocking one or two percent of the incoming sunlight, preferably over the oceans.
Quoting from the Telegraph "They would cost $9 billion (£5.3 billion) to test and launch within 25 years, compared to the $250 billion that the world’s leading nations are considering spending each year to cut CO2 emissions, and the $395 trillion it would cost to launch mirrors into space."
The newspaper doesn't criticize these cost estimates, which are very questionable, if not completely wrong. Lomborg is not trained in climate science. His degree is in Political Science.
But Lomborg is no longer a lone voice. Suddenly, almost everyone is on the geoengineering bandwagon. The British Royal Society released a hundred page report on getting the science going behind climate manipulation. It's called "Geoengineering the Climate, Science Governance and Uncertainty" released in September 2009.
The American Meteorological Society just did the same. So it's not just Bjorn Lomborg, and the right-wing think-tanks who promote his work.
I'll get into the rumors of a super-strategy to derail climate talks in a minute. First, we need to hear from Diana.
You are listening to a Radio Ecoshock special on geoengineering - human control of the biosphere.
We've heard from top climate scientist Alan Robock, and from activist Diana Bronson, from the ETCgroup that's opposed geoengineering for years. In fact, when Russ George and his company Planktos tried to crank out carbon off-sets, by seeding ocean plankton - we had the ETCgroup on to help head him off at the pass. Planktos went nowhere, and then went broke. We did two shows on that, in the first two weeks of September 2007. Part I “Planktos: Offsets Real and Imagined” and Part 2 “Planktos II: The Intervention” (caution 1 hour programs 56 MB each).
Now, there are two groups of humans who are trumpeting the sudden need for geoengineering.
The first gang are, I think, well-intentioned. They are top scientists who are not just worried. They are frightened at the rapid deterioration of our climate.
Keep in mind, two German commercial freighters just went through the North East passage. That is, they sailed from Vladivostok, on Russia's Pacific coast, right past all of Siberia, to the Barents Sea, and then on to Europe. That cuts 4,000 miles off the other shipping route through Singapore and the Suez Canal. With a reduction in shipping emissions, to be sure. That route has been sealed by sea ice for tens of thousands of years. Now it's open, without even an ice-breaker.
Simple yachts are already sailing the North West passage, across the top of Canada to Alaska. The Summer sea ice is the third lowest on record this year.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon just went to the Arctic to see for himself. He found open waters, a great melting. In a speech to the World Climate Conference, the Secretary-General said "Our foot is stuck on the accelerator and we are heading towards an abyss."
There is plenty of climate panic to go around.
Given the low hopes for the coming climate treaty talks in Copenhagen in December, a collection of scientists are plotting Plan B - in case humans just don't adapt their energy system in time. In case we're too crazy or lazy to respond.
Proposed schemes include feeding algae, stimulating volcanoes, mimicking volcanoes by shooting tons of sulfur into the upper atmosphere, pretty well everything, short of creating a nuclear winter with bombs. We're very desperate bunnies.
Some of the scientists involved include well-known names in science. James Lovelock endorses geoengineering research. In the United States, Dr. Ken Caldeira has briefed groups ranging from Google execs to the U.S. military.
I accept most of these top scientists are trying to be good humans. I'm also aware of a tendency in Western science to create big projects that can end up very badly. Like the Manhattan project. In fact, Caldeira, who I respect, works at the Lawrence Livermore Lab, most famous for it's secret nuclear weapons development. He sometimes sounds like that mind culture.
What we have is a network of scientists who propose solutions that could only be implemented by either a coalition of the world's big powers, or by a major power like the United States, Russia, or China - unilaterally. Without a vote, or a voice.
The scientists want big research money for starters, perhaps billions of dollars that will go to new institutions they will direct. Humans are seldom free of self interest.
The awful twist is: we may need the science they develop. Who really believes North Americans are going to stop driving gas cars any time soon? Who really thinks China will stop building mega-coal plants? Science to kill us, science to delay our extinction...
There is a second group of geoengineering cheerleaders behind the curtains. They are the big oil, coal, and power companies - and countries like Saudi Arabia, who make billions every day we use their products, every day we delay cutting CO2 emissions.
I'm sorry to say, Bjorn Lomborg is connected to that dark carbon energy. His latest scientific-sounding report is co-authored by Lee Lane - a writer/publicist with the American Enterprise Institute. The AEI is famous for denying climate change - but suddenly, they say global warming is so serious, we must go straight to geoengineering.
It's no surprise to find that the American Enterprise Institute has received millions of dollars from Exxon/Mobil. Exxon's anti-warming long-time CEO Lee Raymond sat on the AEI Board for years.
There is a whole web site devoted to uncovering unsubstantiated claims made by Bjorn Lomborg, and links to all the American right-wing think tanks, like the Heartland Institute, the Cato Institute, the complete collection. These have sponsored this photogenic well-spoken Dane in his trips to America. Click blog on our main page at ecoshock.org. Or just Google "Lomborg errors" and it's top of the pile. Fascinating reading.
I'm not out to demonize Bjorn Lomborg. I invited him to present his views on this show. I would have given him, and you, a fair hearing. People who call Lomborg a traitor miss the point. Bjorn is just another player in the carbon drama. We're all players, as we sidle up to the gas pumps for one more hit.
Yes, there is an evil conspiracy of fossil barons, to keep the world warming while they make money. Here's just one example I found in Joe Romm's necessary climate blog, at climateprogress.org.
From Joe's blog, where AGW stands for Anthropogenic Global Warming, with humans as the cause, quote:
"Richard S. Courtney, British coal industry flack, is one such denier who spreads disinformation on various blogs... As BigCityLib informs us, Courtney recently made this remarkable admission:
'I am firmly convinced that dangerous AGW is not a problem and cannot become one. However, I do think the possibility of the geo-engineering should be supported. My reason for this is a political ploy and I explain it as follows….
The politicians need a viable reason if they are to back-off from this commitment to the constraints [of GHGs] without losing face.
The geo-engineering option provides the needed viable reason to do nothing about AGW now….'
Joe Romm compares this tactic to the nuclear industry, which kept promising new technology to store waste. It never came, but the plants kept churning out more radioactive blunk. Kind of like the "clean coal" campaign. It's all just smoke and mirrors to let us off the hook. We can keep our carbon addiction, while day-dreaming about the Big Save by science, just before we go under.
Never mind that blocking out sunlight does nothing to stop acidification of the ocean, threatening ocean life. Our carbon pollution will keep rolling into the seas, killing off coral and all shell-making plankton, and all the layers of life that depend upon them. That's not even mentioned in most of the popular press articles Lomborg pumps out, through project-syndicate.org The London Telegraph doesn't mention any side effects at all!
Oh yeah, and so-called solar radiation management might wreak havoc with world rainfall patterns as well. That's the other side of global warming. You could call it global wetting. Except most of the extra water taken up in the warmer world will fall at the Poles, while major crop areas will experience centuries of drought.
Geoengineering could skew that rainfall even more, with very unpredictable consequences. You know, droughts, floods, extreme rainfall events, triggering mass starvation and mass migration.
That's covered in a scientific paper released last Spring, written by Gabriele C. Hegerl and Susan Solomon, titled "Risks of Climate Engineering". The authors caution that climate shift is about much more than temperature. Maybe we could cool things off for a few years with geoengineering, but the precipitation changes are unknown - until we try it all out on a the unsuspecting species who share this planet with us.
Derrick Jensen, the deep green writer, often asks, "What will it take" before you would be willing to fight for what's left of the Earth. I know for sure, if anybody turns my blue skies white, because the carbon barons stalled real action, I'll take up arms. If we let that happen, there will be little left to live for.
I'm Alex Smith - and I'm still hoping we'll make it through the eye of the needle, to keep the natural Earth. You cut your emissions, and I'll cut mine. We'll dedicate ourselves to real solutions.
We can't take this one lying down on the couch. Demonstrate you care on 350 day, October 24th. 350.org for the action nearest you.
Join me next week on Radio Ecoshock, to learn why some communities survive crisis, while others fall apart.
"See You In the Sun" by Shane Philip (Cdn)