The first chapter of Hamilton’s book “Earthmasters” made me feeling very pessimistic about our future prospects. According to Hamilton (and I believe him), the vast majority of climate scientists are screaming their heads off about our bleak future. And according to Hamilton, the well-known Dutch climate scientist Paul Crutzen has come out openly saying that, considering the current dire projections, the horrible outlook, geoengineering must be considered as a viable and perhaps necessary “Plan B.”
It is my opinion after reading the selections (and after a year of being in the climate science degree) that yes, in the future, it will likely come to this if drastic policy changes are not implemented in time. I see as my personal career goal right now to be one of the policy-makers and/or leaders working to solve climate change using the so-called “Plan A,” but looking at what has happened since the Kyoto Protocol in ’97 in multinational policy deliberation, after seeing failure (Copenhagen, mentioned in Hamilton) after failure (Paris Agreement), geoengineering is looking more and more necessary.
It is my hope that we never, never get to this point. Geoengineering, as seen in recent movies, can go horribly, horribly wrong. And it is hard to get it right, to get that correct balance of not too effectual-not too ineffectual, partly because we don’t have complete understanding of the future strengths of feedbacks or forcings. The climate system is a very complicated thing, and throwing caution into the wind and taking your best guess can easily go wrong. A good analogue for the unpredictability of the future climate system is the well-known butterfly effect: one flap of a butterfly’s wings in the Amazon can cause a tornado in Texas weeks later. There are too many variables to account for, and geoengineering has too much potential for disaster to use anytime soon. However, that is not to say that it should not be used as a last last last last last-minute option. If we start to face massive economic and political instability or mass death, geoengineering (cloud-seeding, or what have you) must be considered and used. In the meantime, let’s focus on less risky options, namely multinational policy conferences like Paris. What prevented this agreement from working, as I see it, was not a lack of scientific evidence, but rather politicization, especially in the US and China. The solution before anything, before anything that reads like a action movie synopsis, must be found in politics.