Thursday, April 23, 2015

climate control Crow

Here's another of those hastily made travel postcards sent by Crow after he viewed one of the proposals put forward by the Gates Foundation toward geoengineering a solution to Anthropogenic Global Warming. The device you see is a very very large vessel that will suck up ocean water and blast it into the atmosphere in an attempt to make clouds. Projects similar to this, called Albedo Modification, are proposed to reflect sunlight back into space through one or all of several methods. The wildest one is the idea of using orbiting space mirrors to deflect the sun's rays (unknown weather effects, fails to prevent acidifying oceans); another is to spray aerosols into the stratosphere (risk of ozone depletion as well as unknown weather effects and ocean acidification); cloud seeding by using atomised sea water (same possible negative consequences). 

A number of other geoengineering proposals have been suggested including fertilizing the ocean with iron filings to stimulate plankton growth or pouring tons of ground limestone into the sea to absorb CO₂. The effects on the ecosystems by these methods are also unknown.

Naturally enough, Crow had some thoughts to share about all this that he appears to have written on a number of tiny scrolls that began arriving by carrier pigeon earlier today. Here are a few I've been able to decipher so far:

First and foremost, the idea of geoengineering is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what climate is, and why it is important. Although I have the greatest respect for many climate scientists and engineers, most do not understand ecology, or have a particularly good grasp of it. I have not, for instance, found any of them flying with condors or guarding eagle nests.

The failure in thinking about geoengineering is it wrongly assumes that the only issue is temperature, and that if you simply bring the temperature back down, then the problem is solved. This is so ecologically naive that I may need a shot of brandy before I start. Ahh, there - deep breath. Even if geoengineering did manage to bring the temperature down, it is likely to fundamentally change how ecosystems experience climate, or have other serious ecological impacts - ones that are inherently unpredictable and likely to cause far more problems than they solve. Ecosystems don't just experience climate in terms of crude average temperature. There's the amount of sunlight, precipitation, wind strength, wind direction, humidity and so on. In crude terms, it would be creating another type of climate change.

Geoengineering is based on the credulous concept that the world is rather like a giant room, and you can just raise or lower the temperature, and the rest or room stays the same. In reality, ecosystems interact with the climate in very complex and circular ways. They not only are effected by climate, but they also effect the climate. The geoengineering concept is based on a fundamental failure to understand the dynamic and highly interlinked nature of the natural environment and natural ecosystems. Any whale or dolphin could tell you this.

Geoengineering is essentially a convoluted form of denial saying that humanity should carry on as usual, to the extent of taking absurd gambles to try and control the climate. Missing the 'big picture' entirely, this thinking does not take into account that the present economic model (and industrialization) is highly unsustainable, even if climate change never existed. There is ongoing massive biodiversity loss, ocean depletion, the depletion of natural resources like water, human  population growing out of control, and a 1001 other environmental problems, which geoengineering will not address, and might make worse. It is an artifact of people who reject the idea that the global system has to change to make it environmentally and ecologically sustainable. 

Anticipate my early return, dear susan, and a period of relaxed enjoyment when we can discuss these matters more fully. Meanwhile, you may feel free to share my thoughts with our friends. Please keep the brandy warm and the fruitcake moist.

Your Crow

ps: Perhaps they should try their experiments in an environment where no living beings are likely to be hurt - Mars, for instance.

On a lighter note, here's some video evidence that sometimes a regular person can make a difference. You can see it now and I'll show it to Crow when I see him:

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21 or CMP11 will be held in Paris, France in 2015. The objective of the 2015 conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.

Shall we keep our fingers crossed?


  1. It's a crazy and sad world what with the leader of Canada totally ignoring the environment in the budget just announced. Do you think he'll be in Paris? I think not. He reneged on a past agreement and is unlikely to sign up for a new one. Hope he'll be voted out!

    Thanks for this video about our amazing heroine here in our backyard! I saw the news about her success so was delighted to see this. So many of our First Nations here in BC are fighting hard to save this beautiful province, as many are aslo doing elsewhere in Canada.

    Keep up the good fight, Crow!

    1. I'd be as surprised as you, Marja-Leena, if Harper goes to the Paris Climate Conference. He's far too tied up with the heavy oil industry to ever show concern for the environment. I wonder what planet they plan to inhabit in the future?

      I really enjoyed hearing about Marilyn Baptiste's successful campaign to save the tribal lake. The world would benefit from having more like her.

  2. What can one add to what Crow says? If one doesn't want to accept climate change, one simply won't. Mankind has always b------d up his environment, including the so-called 'noble savage'. It requires a level of species intelligence that we don't have, nor I would suggest will ever have until it's too late. There used to be a lot spoken in the days of apparent and imminent, nuclear holocaust of humanity going out with a bang. A few people latched onto the idea of humanity going out with a whimper. I wonder if there are any other sentient planets in the universe that managed to grow out of the nursery stage.

    1. Hah! That's about the size of it, Tom, but believing it or not won't stop it happening. You're right that humanity has been geoengineering the planet since we set the first fire to herd animals or planted the first seeds. Nevertheless, our race was far more limited then in the damage we could cause.

      As far as sentience goes, I think we have a number of wonderful examples right here on Earth. The thing is that none of them manipulate their environment to the extent we do so they are never counted. Crow blames bad temper and opposable thumbs.

  3. It's difficult not to read into Crow's writing that it's simply too complex for us to understand. While it is certainly a more integrated system (ecology) than is often presented, is it not worthwhile to do what we can, like decreasing carbon footprints?

    I like Crow's rather fanciful device; rather like a cross between star trek and Jules Verne.

    1. The subject has a lot of complex parts but the essence is fairly simple, Mike, and that's whether we attempt to bandage a wound that's become septic without treating the cause. You're correct that the major cause is atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but no international agreement to cut emissions has ever been reached. It's still the only good answer, but implementing it seems ever more unlikely.

      Crow's fanciful device is actually very real - at least as far as planning goes.

  4. Have you read the Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert?

    Everything on this earth is interconnected. Effect one string of this connection and it has a ripple effect on the entire ecosystem. Nature constantly tries to adjust to mankind's follies but we are at that point beyond catastrophic change.
    Mankind (and religion) believes that when humans no longer exist the earth will have ended; but, in fact the earth will repair itself and we will just be the sixth extinction.
    Give my best to Crow and tell him if he would like to visit Maine I have a nice bottle of Madeira I will share with him.
    the Ol'Buzzard

    1. No, I haven't read it, OB, but I did just read some reviews and it looks good. I have read enough articles about the subject to understand and agree with what she's saying. We may well turn out to be part of the Sixth Extinction, but what's heartbreaking is that we're taking so many with us on the way out.

      Crow says he'd welcome a glass of Madeira.

  5. "Crow blames bad temper and opposable thumbs. " HOOT!!! He's so right. I'm in a bad temper myself today, after trying to rake the lawn w an injured thumb.... Nap time. Keep the balcony door open for those carrier pigeons. And toss them some birdseed for me :0)

    1. I can always trust Crow to get to the essentials :)

      I hope your thumb is better soon - the temper will surely follow.

  6. Hi Susan
    Crow looks superb and relaxed as usual and no doubt is correct that all these schemes are old hat so to speak. There are so many facets to consider as you have alluded to, such as addressing environmental degradation, the accelerated loss of bio diversity, looming water shortages and pockets of overpopulation which require immediate attention, if we are to safeguard existence for future generations. Best wishes

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words about Crow's appearance. It's amazing just how well he manages to always look so well attired and relaxed. It must be the brandy and fruitcake.

      Yes, I agree that time really is running out and I do hope the talks in Paris this year will produce results.
      All the best