Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
Part Three of The Current
The risks of Planet Hacking - Richard Owen
The man who chaired the council for environmental quality under US president George Bush says the situation has never been weaker for a global agreement on carbon emissions. And that's fairly typical of the kind of sentiment coming from the climate conference in Durban, South Africa. The Kyoto Protocol is on its death bed, and countries such as Canada have issued "Do Not Resuscitate" orders.
But many climate scientists say quick action is needed to avoid catastrophe. There is a kind of "Plan B"... A radical suite of solutions that could quickly and dramatically counteract climate change. As you may have guessed, it's so full of risks even many of its proponents are queasy about it. It's called geoengineering ... deliberate interventions in the global climate.
Today, as part of our project Game Changer, we look at this emerging science that has the potential to change the planet in an unprecedented way. Eli Kintisch, a journalist with Science Magazine, calls it Planet Hacking. She's the author of Hack the Planet: Science's Best Hope - Or Worst Nightmare - For Averting Climate Catastrophe. We heard from her.
Geoengineering was not so long ago dismissed as irresponsible science fiction. But with carbon dioxide emissions spiraling, it's gained traction. There are two main kinds of geoengineering proposals. One would simply suck carbon out of the atmosphere, as plants do. The other is called solar radiation management - blocking the sun's heat from reaching the earth's lower atmosphere.
One of the first sun-blocking projects ready to make it off the drawing board was the Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering project, better known by its acronym, SPICE. It would have tested the feasibility of lowering global temperatures by simulating what happens in a volcanic eruption. But after being announced with much fanfare in September, it was postponed just two weeks later following a public outcry.
Richard Owen oversaw the governance side of the SPICE experiment. He's a professor of responsible innovation at the business school at the University of Exeter in England. He joined us from Bristol, England.
The risks of Planet Hacking - David Keith
David Keith is one of the world's leading geoengineering researchers. He began at the University of Calgary as an environmental engineer, and now he's a Professor of Public Policy at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. David Keith joined us from Calgary.
Last Word - This Day in History
On this day in 1982, Micheal Jackson released Thriller, which went on to become
the best selling album of all time.
Twenty-nine years later, people seem less interested in Jackson's Thriller than
they are in Jackson's killer .... But maybe that's just 'Human Nature.'
Other segments from today's show: