How Logical is the Band-Aid?

I have misunderstood the concept of geo-engineering. In previous meetings of this class, I had a question at the back of my mind: if our climate is in crisis, why not do geo-engineering? A few of the articles we read previously had briefly touched on the topic of geo-engineering, enough to incite curiosity (and almost hope) about geo-engineering, yet not enough to disregard. After reading the two chapters of “Earthmasters,” by Clive Hamilton and “Re-Engineering the Earth,” by Graeme Wood, I have come to the conclusion that geo-engineering is absolutely absurd. I had this perception that geo-engineering was a way to clean up the planet, rather than to further pollute it (and mask all the problems we currently face).

“Re-engineering the Earth,” by Graeme Wood describes a variety of geo-engineering techniques including using ships to churn up water to be carried by the wind and shooting frisbee-sized ceramic disks in space to block the sun. The most popular technique is what Wood describes as the “gas-the-planet strategy”- sulfur-aerosol injection. “Earthmasters,” by Clive Hamilton further describes these gep-engineering techniques further mentioning CCS, carbon capture and storage. Now, at this point in the reading, I had understood that geo-engineering was nothing that I had preconceived, the conclusion of absurdity had yet to come. 

In “Earthmasters,” Wood mentions an article titled “Human Engineering and Climate Change.” This article was written by three bioethicists, with the same intentions as Johnathan Swift. “Human Engineering and Climate Change” suggests that in order to solve/ refute the effects of climate change we need to genetically select children that are smaller, engineer human eyes to be like that of cats, cognitively enhance women, pharmaceutically enhance altruism and empathy, and create pills to make people vomit when they eat beef. I do not think geo-engineering is absurd because of these suggestions being feasible, but to the satirical point that Liao, Sandberg, and Roache are trying to make: climate change is a serious issue, yet here we are researching and creating illogical, potentially detrimental, and absurd solutions. Many individuals, many of those in power, are ignoring the true solution: mitigate emissions. Wood responds to this article in a way that I did not expect. Wood doesn’t liken “Human Engineering and Climate Change” to “A Modest Proposal” by Johnathan Swift, instead criticizes it. Wood believes that more so instead of satirizing the climate crisis and highlighting the irresponsibility and ridiculousness of our actions, that Liao, Sandberg, and Roache are proposing off the mark solutions. Like actual (obviously dumb) solutions. If Wood likens their “potential solutions” to that of geo-engineering, either their “potential solutions” aren’t that far off, or that geo-engineering is on a whole new level of irrational. 

A quote that quite nicely sums this up was said by Gardner and mentioned by Woods, “if the problem is social and political, why isn’t the solution social and political as well [and] if, as the reports asserts, we already have adequate scientific and technological solutions, why assume that research on alternative solutions will help?”

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