It seems there is a bit of a bruhaha over at the UN about the report being written on Geoengineering. Sub heads running inflammatory phrases like “planet-hacking”.
*holds hand up* Guys and Gals! We’ve been hacking the planet since the first of our kind discovered the possibilities which came with banging two rocks together. Flint. Spark. Knife. Fire. The question we need to be asking is whether human beings ought to pursue certain kinds of geoengineering or not. Ask yourself if tree-planting is morally objectionable? I can tell you, naturally occurring forest fires don’t wring their hands and wonder if they should replant after cutting though a swathe of old-growth. I’m not advocating that forestry companies do that you understand. No. But what I’m suggesting is that if we were to take geoengineering seriously then we need to consider all human activities that involve (as a limited list) drawing water, growing food, cutting down trees, all of it, involve radically changing the environment. Angry about invasive species? Take a damn hard look at yourself — fool.
We’ve clear cut so much of North America just to make room for farming. You want to tell me about the possibilities of replanting the entire forest of North America? No. We’d likely starve.
No one seems to really blink twice if we talk about “good” geoengineering like the restoration of New York oyster reefs. And that maybe becaus I used the key word “restoration” providing we talk in terms of bringing back a natural system its alright. But the moment we talk about massive systems and “interventions” at the level of say … the atmosphere … then things seem to go awry. Folks we cannot undo human planet hacking. We need to look at it as a rational process. Put restrictions of actions that would potentially cause planet failure: plankton seeders I’m looking at you. But allow small scale experiments. The Dutch sure as hell didn’t ask your permission to create Holland. We maybe can be a bit more consultative than that. But the simpering “But NATURE!” argument ignores the fact that you don’t have any clue what nature is. Say it with me: human beings have already hacked the planet. Now let’s try and do it with some forethought.
An inventory of environmental disasters might be a useful start. What went wrong. Why? What were the outcomes. Take a look at the Salton Sea, or the Aral Sea. We know we have a huge impact on the planet. How we manage that impact is vital. Are the Russians being self-interested in this? Sure they are. But we should be too.