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The Royal Society Proposes First Framework For Climate Engineering Experiments

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the we-can-make-it-better dept.

Earth 174

Jason Koebler writes The Royal Society of London, the world's oldest scientific publisher, has unveiled a proposal to create the first serious framework for future geoengineering experiments. It's a sign that what are still considered drastic and risky measures to combat climate change are drifting further into the purview of mainstream science. The scientific body has issued a call to create "an open and transparent review process that ensures such experiments have the necessary social license to operate."

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"Frameworks", "processes", and bureaucratic kaka. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47698577)

Jesus Christ, this sounds like the crap spewed forth by consultants I've had to deal with in the past. They'll give you all sorts of "frameworks" for your "business processes", but in the end it's all just bureaucratic bullshit.

Here it comes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700549)

Legions of Slashdot retards who pretend to hold PhDs, offering Pop Science opinions as sacred facts.

One thing that is 100% certain about AGW "debates" on slashdot is that nobody really understands the Science involved and the few that do are too embarrassed to be associated with the Slashdot Cluster Fucks to post anything under there pseudonym let alone their real name...aside from the few clinically narcissistic assholes who just like to see there name on the internet.

Pretenders, all of you.

I propose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47698583)

Please fund a study to test the effects of piracy versus global warming.

For science! x^D

Re:I propose (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | about 4 months ago | (#47700305)

Please fund a study to test the effects of piracy versus global warming.

It's a no-brainer. It is clear that the rise in mean global temperatures is positively correlated both with increasing numbers of pirates and with the transition from wind-power to fossil-fuel powered vessels used by those pirates. However since correlation isn't causation this tells us little. Ergo it would be a waste of money to fund the study you suggest.

Try harder next time ... for trolling! x^D

Pin more shiny awards on my chest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47698641)

Bob: You died Saturday at 5:00 p.m. The prison doctor confirmed suicide after an overdose of tranquillizers. You're buried in Maisons-Alfort, row 8, plot 30.

Nikita: [looking at pictures of her funeral] Titi... That's Titi!

Bob: I work, let's say, for the government. We've decided to give you another chance.

Nikita: What do I do?

Bob: Learn. Learn to read, walk, talk, smile and even fight. Learn to do everything.

Nikita: What for?

Bob: To serve your country.

Nikita: What if I don't want to?

Bob: Row 8, Plot 30.

Re:Pin more shiny awards on my chest! (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 4 months ago | (#47700891)

It should be row 8, plot 31. Unless it can take more than one person, and then on the 2nd person they fake the name of the first person, and the titles on the tombstones will be correct, except the order, of who's on top, will be mixed up.

And by the way, what happened to the idea of cremation and recycling of the bone phosphate as fertilizer into the living world, as opposed to letting it sit and waste down below forever before it fully becomes recycled - bones and skulls last forever underground, holding up precious phosphate in them? Even if there is a reducing environment during the cremation and the phosphorous ends up as elemental gas and evaporates, as soon as it's out of the chimney it turns back to phosphoric acid - same thing as the sour stuff in cola - and fertilizes the grass nearby the crematory, and lets the earthworms pick it up from the grass, then the birds from the worms, and carry it all over the place.

As far as the main topic goes, all the Brits gotta do is set up a rocket launching base on one of their colonies near the equator - Tristan da Cunha is not too far - then set up a base on the Moon, from which to shoot materials up into space orbit, and put up a giant flippable shade at the Lagrange point between the Earth and Sun, and also mirrors around the perimeter, so you have the option to increase the solar input if we're getting an iceage, or decrease it, if there is global warming. But once you got them shades up and ready, humans can invade the deserts, like Sahara, and grow food there and live there, with greenhouses. You don't really need to cover up the whole Earth with the shades, something like 1% or 3% probably goes a long way, with huge effects, for starters, but the Sahara does have a huge reflectivity, to where if you turn it dark green, you get instant global warming from that. In the meantime, if people are tight on global food supply, and need more places to grow food, irrigation in the desert is probably not the best idea, but instead moving into the oceans, and growing seaweed or kelp, for starters, that something else is willing to eat, like cows would be. All you need in the ocean is a huge plastic bag, with phosphate detergent fertilizer, with salicyl chelated iron fertilizer, and iodine, as kelp is really high on iodine. Make your own little ecosystem floating on top of the ocean. Extra food, or extra carbon-neutral biofuel, extra carbon dioxide extracted from the atmosphere. The Brits may be sane enough to pull it off, but even they are under racial issues and tensions back at home. Like last year, right near the Boston Marathon bombings, some black muslim dudes butchered another white guy in broad daylight in the streets, shouting it's payback for all the murdered muslims. And a decade or so ago, I saw on PBS a program about South Africa, where there used to be apartheid beaches, segregated ones, for white only, and the mixes and blacks would have to go other places. So there was this black guy who murdered two white women on the beach, and when asked why he did it, it was to make the white man suffer, because he hates the white man. There are all kinds of issues around the world, a lot of them racial or tribal, for instance Iraq, people that look exactly alike, blow each other up over tribal rivalry. What Iraq needs is a strong dictator like Saddam, to reign in the crazy people with terror. Or if the Brits take over the world again, like 100 years ago the British Empire ran the business in much of the world, they'd have to be strong armed without fighting feuding battles against other similar monarchies or empires, along the lines of the Battle of Jutland, because in the nuclear age there are no winners to rivalries between empires. People need to figure out how to coexist, while maintaining respect for the genetic variability their peers represent. For instance one could agree to deport the white people from South Africa back to Europe, deport black people from Europe back to Africa, deport non-native Americans out of the reservations in the US, other then the ones invited by them, and there are similar things in Papua New Guinea for instance, where people are really different, but even if white anthropologists go and study them, and sort of become part of their society, they should be careful not to pollute their genetic pool to where white people take over and drive the people there extinct. It is good to have variety, and to maintain variety, cultural and genetic. But it's hard to maintain cultural variety, for instance the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert really like to live in a modern way, and they used to be forced to go back to living in the desert with sticks and spears like in the old days, and that's like torture for them. Self determination is the most important thing, and that includes if Native American tribes invite some white people to mix down with, or black people, or Asians, etc, thats different than an attack to where they get diluted out of existence. I don't think it's a good idea to deport all non-native Americans away from the US, including white, black and Asian, back to their respective continents, just as Debrah Wilson said it in a Mad TV episode where she tried to return a pair of shoes to the Booty Tree. And native Americans probably don't expect that, even though at the beginning, Thanksgiving celebrations are about them helping out new white settlers, and sort of inviting them to coexist as guests. What they'd expect is a little more respect, and things like welfare money not to be cut. They are already forced out of the fertile lands of Florida, Connecticut, Ohio, into semiarid regions of Wyoming-Nebraska-South Dakota, or straight unsurvivable deserts like Arizona or California. Though they have tax-free casino rights, that doesn't really work in Nebraska. If anything, they should be the ones to receive the highest amounts of welfare money, not Chicago and New York, for instance, on a headcount basis. The suicide rate on their reservations is huge, because it's a semi-desertous unlivable area, education has been cut back completely during the Obama sequestering more than anywhere else in the US. It's like some people want to see them gone and forever wiped off the face of the Earth, just so they don't come and claim some kind of rightful inheritance to land unjustly taken from them. The simplest solution is kill all the inheritors, right? That would be a great loss to all people in the world. An irrigation system going from the Great Lakes to Nebraska, or where ever you have to get the water from, even Canada, would be great, as probably all you have to do is dump a bunch of water off on their reservation, and once you have water, you have life in the desert, and they can figure it out from there. You can't really relocated them back to, say Florida or Connecticut, and you should not exterminate them either, whether through starvation, or genetic down breeding and dissolution.

You get nothing. Good day, sir! (4, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#47698653)

If I were a schill for big business, I'd be all, "Yeah yeah! Do it! Let's compensate by geoengineering!"

DO NOT DO THIS. If it works and you overshoot, you'll induce another ice age, which can happen in as few as a couple of years. Unlike moving in from the oceans over 100-300 years (a nuisance, and less damaging to human life than slowing technological advancement by massive intervention in the economy) an ice age will indeed, and actually, and rapidly kill billions of people.

Lik Willy Wonka, I will sigh and burble flatedly, "No. Stop. Don't do it." but the children won't listen.

Re:You get nothing. Good day, sir! (3, Insightful)

Berkyjay (1225604) | about 4 months ago | (#47699133)

A scientist who doesn't consider all paths to solving a problem is not a very good scientist. Let me emphasise.....CONSIDER all paths. To ignore geoengineering as a possible solution to what is happening NOW would be foolish and irresponsible.

Re:You get nothing. Good day, sir! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700089)

What are you talking about? The Path is Settled. No need to consider anything else. In fact, denier, YOUR opinion doesn't count at all.

Re:You get nothing. Good day, sir! (5, Informative)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 4 months ago | (#47699257)

DO NOT DO THIS. If it works and you overshoot, you'll induce another ice age, which can happen in as few as a couple of years.

No, an ice age is not something that can happen in a couple of years. The thermal capacitance of the oceans pretty much guarantees that. If you look at the records of past ice ages (glaciations) over the past million years the drop into them is usually much slower than the rise out of them.

Besides that, nothing about geoengineering is long lasting. It pretty much requires that you keep doing it to maintain the effect. That will be an ongoing expense without any clear end.

Re:You get nothing. Good day, sir! (1)

strikethree (811449) | about 4 months ago | (#47702149)

Besides that, nothing about geoengineering is long lasting. It pretty much requires that you keep doing it to maintain the effect. That will be an ongoing expense without any clear end.

I do not feel confident that what you are saying is true. I see it as possible that a "new" process could interfere with another which would interfere with another, etc. The cascade effect might not stop just because the original process was stopped.

Re: You get nothing. Good day, sir! (1)

James Buchanan (3571549) | about 4 months ago | (#47702497)

But once started? Where do you go till the mistakes are rectified? Are " you" just going to allow millions of people to die just because you forgot to convert from imperial? It sounds so. What's wrong with a cyclic world as it is?

Re:You get nothing. Good day, sir! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47699295)

DO NOT DO THIS. If it works and you overshoot, you'll induce another ice age,

It's taken us a long time and a lot of energy to fuck up the biosphere this badly. We won't reverse the trend that quickly even if we try. There are other concerns, though. For example, secondary effects from attempts to fix the problem...

Re:You get nothing. Good day, sir! (2)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47699811)

It's taken us a long time and a lot of energy to fuck up the biosphere this badly.

Energy is irrelevant since it pretty much is gone from the system in a few days. The CO2 build up on the other hand is something that's not going away in a few days.

Re:You get nothing. Good day, sir! (1)

lazy genes (741633) | about 4 months ago | (#47700603)

The energy gets transferred to the sea surface and moves towards the poles. Warmer air moves in the direction of the path of least resistance which is toward the poles. The warm air displaces the cold arctic air and the polar vortex is now over the North America. Can you see the similarities in last winters weather patterns? Welcome to the new ice age.

Re:You get nothing. Good day, sir! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47699807)

Shill, not 'schill'. I see the latter a fair bit; it's incorrect and kind of dubious. We should stamp it out.

How About... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700069)

...coming up with a real theory than can be falsified instead of this bullshit where anything/everything that happens is "Proof", that their "theory" is confirmed?

just use nuclear bombs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47698659)

They can make nuclear winter or raise some land to make more territory to farm.

Drain the Mediterranean for the future!

Transparent? (4, Insightful)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#47698661)

When they say "open and transparent" what they mean is that anyone who's even vaguely sceptical will be hounded out at the first opportunity.

Re:Transparent? (3, Interesting)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47699143)

I should think that any geo-engineering attempt to reduce atmospheric CO2 would have to be on a massive scale - there will be plenty of time for the anxious to voice their concerns and present their evidence.

Besides, if anything I think we've been far TOO consultative through this process. We spent what? 30 years listening to denialists and waiting for them to produce some evidence for their theory (that anthropogenic CO2 does not cause warming unlike natural CO2 which is mysteriously different). This is probably 25 years too long compromising to an alternate hypothesis with all the scientific credentials of a guy screaming "A witch did it!".

Re:Transparent? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47699383)

You mean like no warming in 17.5 years? That kind of evidence that your side ignores and name calls people who point it out?

To me its the supporters of AGW that need to provide a SHRED of evidence. They make models that show doom, and don't match up with reality. Then they redo the models to match the previous few years and again show doom. They have yet to create a SINGLE model in advance that matches reality.

Sorry you don't understand this and believe their lies while calling those who tell the truth liars.

Re:Transparent? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#47700037)

Uh Oh. Here we go again.

Can we just say op. cit. and have it done with?

Re:Transparent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700447)

You mean like no warming in 17.5 years

Even if that were true (as it clearly is not), it would hardly be sufficient evidence. Stats not a strong point, huh?

To me its the supporters of AGW that need to provide a SHRED of evidence.

The data supports the AGW hypothesis to a 95% confidence level, you just haven't been paying attention. No simulation model required.

They make models that show doom, and don't match up with reality. Then they redo the models to match the previous few years and again show doom. They have yet to create a SINGLE model in advance that matches reality.

Of course they redo the models duh! It's science silly. And you're wrong about the models failing to match reality, even the older ones have been surprisingly skillful.

It is a common misunderstanding of what the models do to expect the range of prediction to match exactly the movement in observed temperatures. Remember observed temperatures are equivalent to a single simulation run. While any single simulation run might or might not match observations [scilogs.de] , that is to miss the point. Rather we rerun simulations under a variety of realistic conditions to sketch out the range in which we expect to find future observations. Observed global mean temperatures are well within the predictions of the major GCMs.

Sorry you don't understand this and believe the denier's lies while calling those who tell the truth liars.

Re: Transparent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700487)

I'm afraid it's you that lacks any understanding of science or statistics. The very fact that you dismiss the pause shows you are ignorant because the entire scientific community is scrambling to try to explain it.

You're just another fucking Kool Aid addict.

Re: Transparent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700903)

No, I'm afraid it really is you that lacks sufficient understanding of science or statistics.

The very fact that you dismiss the pause

Bearing in mind that 18 years is hardly large enough to show any statistical significance, just take the data for the last 18 years and plot a regression line, go on! What is the slope? [Hint: it's positive.] Now if you were to note that the rate of warming over the last 18 years was lower than the rate of warming over the entire instrumental record, I could not disagree. That is a fact. It simply doesn't mean as much as you imagine. Also the rate appears to be increasing again, so this little furphy has just about run its time.

... the entire scientific community ...

That would be the same "entire scientific community" that regards you as "another fucking Kool Aid addict," yes?

... is scrambling to try to explain it.

There has been some work by a number of climatologist (a small number) which has gone a long way to explaining some of the shorter term variability, such are the recent (though non-significant) decline in the rate of warming (the "pause" between ca. 1940 and 1970 etc..) It is spin to regard this as the entire scientific community, or even the entire climate science community "scrambling" to explain a non-existent decline (or even stasis) in temperatures. Nor does this change the fact that, short term variability notwithstanding, that observed temperatures fall within the range predicted by the major GCMs.

I understand maths is not your forte, but note visually on the graph of that single run [scilogs.de] , how significant even a 21 year decline in temperatures might be over the longer term. That should help you understand why the recent short-term decline in the rate of warming gives us no grounds for relief.

In any case simulation model are attempting predict the future. We need not even consider them. The fact is that already observed warming, over the instrumental record, cannot be explained but for human contribution. We can say with 95% confidence that human contributions form the dominant contributor to observed global warming. No simulation required.

Nor is there any alternative explanation has withstood scientific scrutiny.

Sorry you don't understand this and believe the deniers' lies while calling those who tell the truth liars.

Re:Transparent? (2)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#47701175)

95% confidence? Are you having a laugh?

Re:Transparent? (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 4 months ago | (#47701925)

So you've not even read the IPCC's fifth report, then. Brilliant.

Re:Transparent? (3, Informative)

Truth_Quark (219407) | about 4 months ago | (#47701597)

WTF?

Climate change deniers?

FFS. SIGH
re: You mean like no warming in 17.5 years?
There has been plenty of warming in the last 17.5 years. The warming of the surface air temperature has been marginal, (but not statistically significantly "no warming" as you appear to be claiming.) The best you can correctly and scientifically say, is that there might be a reduction in the rate of warming of the surface air temperature.

The oceans have warmed. As can be seen from the direct measurements, if you're into science, but if you're not, it's clear and obvious from sea level rise [csiro.au] which is primarily thermal expansion.

Ice sheets have lost mass [utexas.edu] .

re: They make models that show doom, and don't match up with reality.
No they don't. They make models that investigate the climate.

Some aspects match with reality well. Some aspects require finer modelling. (And there are probably some physical processes that are not fully understood either, especially with respect to cloud formation).

Sure, all (I think) models have a double-Intertropical Convergence Zone. That doesn't mean that they aren't useful. Quite the opposite. The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny...". And so work on the DICZ progresses [nih.gov] . Science advances. We learn more stuff.

Claiming "Models don't match reality! All this science must therefore be rubbish!" is the call of the Luddites. Einstein didn't overthrow Newton, he built upon his work, and Newton did upon the giants upon whose shoulders he stood. This is how science works.

re: Then they redo the models to match the previous few years and again show doom.
I'll keep this response more concise: Bullshit.

re: Sorry you don't understand this and believe their lies while calling those who tell the truth liars.
Really? That's your claim? The scientists are lying to you?
FFS, mate, think about that for a while and get back to me on how likely it could be.

Re:Transparent? (0)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47702151)

with all the scientific credentials of a guy screaming "A witch did it!".

You mean like "no warming in 17.5 years?"

Exactly like that claim.

To me its the supporters of AGW that need [snip]

Nope. Don't care about your ridiculous fantasies.

Re:Transparent? (1, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47699509)

It doesn't matter if anthropogenic CO2 causes warming or not (although there has yet to be any empiracle evidence of such). What matters is the costs with correcting it verses enduring it. So far, enduring it seems to be more cost effective than the plans to correct it that are being considered by governments. And most if them seem to have the end result of enduring us added costs.

Its more complicated than denialists which seems to be anyone who doesn't toe the line exactly how it is preached.

Re:Transparent? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700481)

The honesty with which you chose your moniker is admirable.

Re:Transparent? (0)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47701755)

I see, you have no logic or facts capable of countering the post so you ignore it and try to attack the messenger. I am not surprised as this is what "scientific debate" devolves to when you attempt to for politics in it and the obvious economic realities fo not line up with your cherrished point of view. Most of us call it intelectual lazyness but i'm going to go a bit further qnd say you have a problem with intelectual honesty to. So please quit lieing to yourself.

Re:Transparent? (4, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | about 4 months ago | (#47701889)

You didn't have any logic or facts either, just your opinion. He chose to highlight the fact that your opinion is not based on the scientific findings of the decades of research on climate change by simply pointing to your name, which is incredibly apt. Don't confuse brevity with laziness :)

Re:Transparent? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47702137)

It doesn't matter if anthropogenic CO2 causes warming or not (although there has yet to be any empiracle evidence of such).

empiracle?

What matters is the costs with correcting it verses enduring it. So far, enduring it seems to be more cost effective than the plans to correct it that are being considered by governments.

Cite a paper that backs this assertion

Re:Transparent? (0)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#47701169)

We spent what? 30 years listening to denialists and waiting for them to produce some evidence for their theory

Do "denialists" have a theory? Do "denialists" get much research grant funding? Does they even get published? I get the feeling you've missed something very important across this whole debate and that its done some damage to your credibility on this issue.

Re:Transparent? (2)

Truth_Quark (219407) | about 4 months ago | (#47701627)

Do "denialists" have a theory?

Yep. A grand conspiracy theory whereby all the world's climate scientists are perpetrating a fraud, and somehow everyone throughout the globe, and all incoming students are inducted.

They're total crackpots.

Do "denialists" get much research grant funding?

No, denialists aren't scientists. They're PR professionals. They get plenty of PR funding though.

Does they even get published?

Yes [amazon.com] , they're [amazon.com] well [amazon.com] over [nipccreport.org] -published [nipccreport.org] . This [google.com.au] is [google.com.au] what [google.com.au] PR [google.com.au] is all about these days. What they're not is peer-reviewed. This is because they're crackpots.

I get the feeling you've missed something very important across this whole debate and that its done some damage to your credibility on this issue.

Somebody has.

Re:Transparent? (1, Troll)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#47701743)

A grand conspiracy theory whereby all the world's climate scientists are perpetrating a fraud

Otherwise known as "groupthink", motivated in large part by the huge amounts of tax-payer's cash available for their institutions. I think if we learned anything from the "climategate" emails, if it's not an outright fraud, it's certainly motivated a lot of questionable behaviour.

The vast bulk of publication on this issue in the literature is a pile of stinking bilge. I can think of a few sceptics who get published, such as Curry, Lindzen, Spencer, Pielke, but they are a few out of thousands of researchers on the AGW gravy train, whose careers, tenure and professorships are directly linked to their ability to suck research funds out of government for their institutions.

What they're not is peer-reviewed. This is because they're crackpots.

Oh I see. Your opinion on whether or not someone is a crackpot affects whether or not they get their ideas published, does it? Can you not spot a very small (i.e. the size of Jupiter) hole in the process, right there? Pal-review is not a guarantee of general correctness. It's a guarantee of political correctness.

Re:Transparent? (2)

Truth_Quark (219407) | about 4 months ago | (#47701795)

Otherwise known as "groupthink", motivated in large part by the huge amounts of tax-payer's cash available for their institutions.

Science is pretty good at routing out bad results in less than 40 years and 1,700,000 scholarly publications.

In fact scientists aren't that good at groupthink.

What about PhD students? How are they convinced to tow the line instead of getting a Nobel prize for overthrowing climate authodoxy? Nearly none of them have tax-payers funding beyond their thesis. What about scientists with Tenure? How are they convinced to do bad science, when their funding is guaranteed? What about private research bodies? How are they convinced to fudge their results when they need to compete for research grants in a wide range of areas, and bad results threatens their whole institution? What about research funded by charities? How are they convinced to tow a line that sends money to their competitors in government academic and research bodies? What about general science Journals? How are they convinced to publish poorly reviewed research, when their whole income is based solely on the fact that they don't do that?

Are you sure you've thought this through?

What other fields of science have fallen into this trap of falsifying research for "huge amounts of money"?

Are you skeptical of the discovery of the Higgs Boson? There's a stack of funding given to the LHC, and no other place of research that could verify their results. Surely they would be better subject to your paranoid conspiracy theory?

I think if we learned anything from the "climategate" emails, if it's not an outright fraud, it's certainly motivated a lot of questionable behaviour.

I think you've read them out of context. Do you have a one in particular that shows "questionable behavior"? Remember that there were several years of emails stolen. Data mining them for sentences that appear questionable had a lot of scope.

The vast bulk of publication on this issue in the literature is a pile of stinking bilge.

There are over 1,700,000 hits in google scholar to the search term "Climate change". I know you haven't read the vast bulk of the literature. (And I suspect you haven't read any of it).

But I'll give you a chance: What is your evidence that the "vast bulk of publication on this issue in the literature is a pile of stinking bilge"?

Oh I see. Your opinion on whether or not someone is a crackpot affects whether or not they get their ideas published, does it?

Not my opinion specifically. But you don't publish Ken Ham in Evolution & Development. And you don't publish Gene Ray in reviews of modern physics, not because I think they're crackpots, but because crackpots would never clear peer review.

Pal-review is not a guarantee of general correctness. It's a guarantee of political correctness.

Peer review certainly doesn't guarantee correctness. Most papers are refuted within 5 years. That's why established science is based on consensus, not upon a single peer reviewed paper.
Science isn't always right, it merely always corrects it's results eventually.

Re:Transparent? (0)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#47701821)

Science is pretty good at routing out bad results in less than 40 years and 1,700,000 scholarly publications.

Yes, science progresses one funeral at a time. 40 years seems about right to me.

Re:Transparent? (1)

Truth_Quark (219407) | about 4 months ago | (#47701829)

Over the past 40 years, the opinion of the scientific community has consolidated on climate science. Over that time it has become accepted that human activity is the primary cause of the current warming, for instance.

Re:Transparent? (2)

dave420 (699308) | about 4 months ago | (#47701911)

All it takes is one scientist to demonstrate this alleged "groupthink" and they've instantly won a Nobel prize or two, and guaranteed funding for whatever they want to work on for the rest of their life. I know it's convenient to assume there is some plot when science points to your closely-held beliefs being nonsense, but that is verging on the pathetic.

We know how much CO2 human industry is releasing. We know how much CO2 is being released naturally. We know how much CO2 is being absorbed. We know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The sums are really not that difficult. The complicated part is knowing how the world is dealing with the increased temperatures, which also well understood.

Future generations will look back upon attitudes like yours with confusion and shame.

Re:Transparent? (2)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47702125)

We spent what? 30 years listening to denialists and waiting for them to produce some evidence for their theory (that anthropogenic CO2 does not cause warming unlike natural CO2 which is mysteriously different).

Do "denialists" have a theory?

Yes. In what sense is that not blindingly obvious from the sentence: waiting for them to produce some evidence for their theory (that anthropogenic CO2 does not cause warming unlike natural CO2 which is mysteriously different).?

Do "denialists" get much research grant funding? Does they even get published?

No idea. Do conspiracy theorists and wiccans get published? Perhaps if they would if they, I dunno, did science.

I get the feeling you've missed something very important across this whole debate and that its done some damage to your credibility on this issue.

What debate is that?

Re:Transparent? (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#47702449)

that anthropogenic CO2 does not cause warming unlike natural CO2 which is mysteriously different

But that isn't what sceptics are saying, is it. Nice try with the good old straw man argument, which never fails a climate alarmist in need of a bullshit sentence on a website.

Re:Transparent? (2)

Truth_Quark (219407) | about 4 months ago | (#47701515)

I think that the concern of the Royal Society is that we are past a couple of really nasty tipping points: The loss of the northern summer sea ice and the loss of the west antarctic ice sheet. We may have crossed some other lines to do with the Indian monsoon, the African monsoon, the savannahization of the amazon rainforest and the collapse of the boreal forests.

No one wants to do geoengineering, except those with an interest in the fossil fuel industry. But the time to reduce emissions was 20 years ago, and while reductions now will make for savings, the consequences of what we have already done are likely horrific in terms of biodiveristy and displacement and starvation of vulnerable peoples.

So it needs to be on the table. Open and transparent is very important, but I think that there'll be plenty of interest in making sure that concerns are considered.

And the inertia will be all towards caution in this case, (again barring people with an interest in the fossil fuel industry). Geo-engineering may have benefits for the entire world if it ameliorates AGW, but it also has to be funded.

Durrrr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47698673)

Academic masturbation to be more precise. You can talk and talk and talk and create your "frameworks," but in the end, everyone knows what's going on. You have no teeth. There is some naive presumption from the perpetrators that something will follow their "lead," but it's all for naught.

Re:Durrrr. (-1, Troll)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#47698693)

Having a "framework" allows them to control the process. Controlling the process allows them to funnel government cash to their friends in academia.

Re:Durrrr. (2)

AndrewBuck (1120597) | about 4 months ago | (#47698827)

Oh yeah, that sweet sweet grant money. Everyone knows scientists who support global warming are all riding around on their private yachts paid for with the grant money they lied in their research to get, whereas the poor defenseless honest scientists who are sceptical of global warming are all broke and starving because no one will pay them a dime.

-AndrewBuck

Re:Durrrr. (3, Interesting)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#47698967)

Oh yeah, that sweet sweet grant money. Everyone knows scientists who support global warming are all riding around on their private yachts paid for with the grant money they lied in their research to get, whereas the poor defenseless honest scientists who are sceptical of global warming are all broke and starving because no one will pay them a dime.

No, they are not running around on their yachts. They are fighting for a living share of a dwindling supply of cash. They are coming out of the woodwork trying to protect their livelihoods and paychecks for fear they might have to get an industry job where there is accountability for results, not just being able to get grant money. They are fighting to stay relevant, so they can keep their PHD students in subjects do develop and defend, right or wrong.

You see, this is academia we are discussing, not business. If this was a business venture, we would have had our answer years ago and wouldn't need another round of National Science Foundation funding to investigate this, or come up with another model that disagrees with the 20 we already have which are not good enough. We certainly wouldn't need a "frame work" to more fairly dole out the funds.

What we really have is survival of the fittest, capitalistic, style. A bunch of these folks will be taking up new avenues of research, getting other jobs, or just retiring without their Nobel Peace Prize. The question is who will make the cut and what will they do when they get desperate.

Re:Durrrr. (2)

AndrewBuck (1120597) | about 4 months ago | (#47699065)

If this was a business venture, we would have had our answer years ago and wouldn't need another round of National Science Foundation funding to investigate this, or come up with another model that disagrees with the 20 we already have which are not good enough.

So just to be clear, what you are saying is that the science is in such broad agreement that climate change is real and is man made, that it is not even worth spending more money to research it, right?

-AndrewBuck

Re:Durrrr. (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 4 months ago | (#47699263)

Nope, not what he said.

Re:Durrrr. (1, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#47699325)

Not even close to what I said because I don't believe climate change is "settled science". Actually, to me, it's a boondoggle that is a lot like a boat. It's a hole in the water that you dump your money into. We are barking up the wrong tree, in the wrong forest, in the wrong country, on the wrong planet.

Re:Durrrr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700021)

" the wrong planet"

The correct planet to focus on seems to be Venus which has a very uniform, stable troposphere. Venus and Earth troposphere's appear to share some equilibrium state. Just multiply the US standard atmosphere temperature on earth at a given pressure by the square root of the ratio of the two orbital radii (sqrt(Re/Rv)=1.176; as would be predicted for two blackbodies) and you will get very close to the mid-latitude temperatures on Venus at the same pressure as measured by Magellan.

Re:Durrrr. (2)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#47701177)

Actually I wasn't referring to scientists and their private incomes, although they have mortgages like everybody else. I'm mostly referring to the main method of career progression in academia which involves attracting government money to your institution. The better you are at doing this, the more likely you are to get tenure or a professorship. If you work in academia you have to play this game.

Re:Durrrr. (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 4 months ago | (#47701929)

Or simply send round the "Welcome to the Global Climate Conspiracy!" email that you seem to think everyone gets, and instantly name your prize.

If the conspiracy exists, it takes just one scientist to blow it open and receive riches beyond their wildest dreams, guaranteeing their research for the rest of their life.

Have you noticed you can't argue with the science, so you are now arguing against the scientists? You sound desperate, childish, and really pathetic.

Combat climate change by changing the climate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47698785)

Ok, so there is still scientific debate if man-made climate change is even significant compared to natural climate change and they want to now overwhelm natural climate change (and whatever amount is currently man-made) by man-made means? We don't even know how we really affect the planets climate with what we are doing accidentally and these jokers want to purposely start pushing buttons and turning dials in the hopes of getting it right? How about we strive to get an accurate climate model before we press the big red candy like button on the world climate change machine??

Re:Combat climate change by changing the climate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47698991)

Stupid is as stupid does..

Re:Combat climate change by changing the climate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47701003)

Ok, so there is still scientific debate if man-made climate change is even significant compared to natural climate change

Are you typing this via a time machine from 1988? If you still have the portal open, I've got some bad news [www.ipcc.ch] for you.

I am skeptical (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | about 4 months ago | (#47698789)

I'm skeptical about the ability of geoengineering to solve the problems created by climate change. The climate is chaotic: obviously in its form as weather, but longer-term as well. Is it going to be possible at all to un-stir that pot?

Climate effects of CO2 go well beyond the change in temperature. It also acidifies the ocean, to the detriment of the life there. It also shifts weather patterns: even if we manage the temperature of the globe on average, it won't fix the alternations made to rainfall patterns and local temperatures, which will affect plant and animal life and require changes (perhaps drastic) to the way farming is done. I worry that geoengineering would fight global warming but cause even more climate change.

I guess we won't know if we don't do the research, but it concerns me that it could be seen as "Don't worry, we'll just put everything back, so go ahead and dig up that last ounce of fossil fuel." Even if the geoengineering approach can do more good than harm, it doesn't let us off the hook to produce less carbon, which will mitigate the damage. And we're having a hard enough time getting anything done on that score without adding a new phase to climate change denialism: "We can fix it."

Re:I am skeptical (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47699959)

I guess we won't know if we don't do the research, but it concerns me that it could be seen as "Don't worry, we'll just put everything back, so go ahead and dig up that last ounce of fossil fuel." Even if the geoengineering approach can do more good than harm, it doesn't let us off the hook to produce less carbon, which will mitigate the damage. And we're having a hard enough time getting anything done on that score without adding a new phase to climate change denialism: "We can fix it."

While the moral hazard of geoengineering is rather obvious as a problem, so is the assumption that humanity only has one purpose, to keep the climate the same as it was in 1850.

Re:I am skeptical (2)

Capsaicin (412918) | about 4 months ago | (#47701307)

While the moral hazard of geoengineering is rather obvious ...

There is a moral hazard to geo-engineering?! And it's obvious? Really?

What do you have in mind, putting a tender out to extra-terrestrial engineering companies in near-by star systems?

Re:I am skeptical (2)

smaddox (928261) | about 4 months ago | (#47700543)

It's difficult to say if we can 'fix' it, but we can certainly influence it. It's actually pretty simple (just not cheap)--spray lots and lots of ocean water into the upper atmosphere (I'm talking on a massive scale here). This will result in the formation of clouds, which reflect incident sunlight, resulting in cooling. Based on where your spray fleets are located, you could also heavily influence local climate.

This is of course only one possible approach, and likely not the cheapest.

Then they scorched the sun. (1)

frup (998325) | about 4 months ago | (#47698813)

If without sounding like a conspiracy theorist too much, there is a small group of people controlling the world, which it seems, technology such as this leads to a weapon greater than the nuclear bomb. Until there is peace for at least a generation we can not be trusted to do this. However, it would appear that we also need this to survive.

The current dichotomy between power and freedom is unbalanced. Balance is what is needed. But as we live in the silent crusade, where only 10 nations are not engaged in border disputes, a scenario such as the world of Snowpiercer, The Matrix or, all those other dystopias is what I feel will result. But then again the only hope for peace is to ignore the cynic within.

May his greatness Elon Musk deliver us to the heavens and bring peace to all.

lol.

What could possibly go wrong? (5, Interesting)

Noryungi (70322) | about 4 months ago | (#47698859)

Instead of potentially dangerous experiments, may I suggest the oldest known and proven solution to global warming?

This is extremely complicated, so please bear with me for a minute or two:

Plant. More. Trees.

Don't believe me? Fine, don't take my word for it. [arborday.org] Heck, even that bastion of free enterprise, The Economist [economist.com] got behind that idea!

So, why is not implemented on a large scale? Because planting trees is not techonologically "sexy" - it is well known, has been well known for centuries, and, for maximum effect, would require rich countries to invest serious money in poorer countries, to save the rainforest (which is where tree-planting would have maximum impact). And we cannot allow these natives to get money to do something as simple as plant a tree, right?

In other words, the wealthiest have decided it is a lot more fun to throw money at dangerous or even foolish and ineffectual solutions rather than provide for jobs and development in the poorest countries of the world -- precisely the countries that will suffer the most due to global warming. Make of that what you will.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Interesting)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#47698933)

Rainforests are CO2 neutral.

It is often quoted that rain forests absorb buttloads of CO2, but they give off equal amounts. Unless a swamp/jungle is laying down geological CO2 (there are a very few left, Okefenokee is the example that springs to mind) it is just absorbing it, short term. While the rot at the base of the tree is giving off an equal amount.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47699157)

Not quite. The trees/other biomass will absorb as much carbon as they themselves hold, and they'll hold it for - well, as long as the forest is standing. Your typical ash tree holds 2-3 tonnes of carbon. Rainforest trees grow taller and thicker than average, so they can hold quite a bit more.

Planting trees isn't a long-term fix, but it could buy us some breathing space. The catch is, it means giving up land that could otherwise be cultivated or developed. And that's something humans have never willingly done. Land is the ultimate limited resource,

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700093)

"The catch is, it means giving up land that could otherwise be cultivated or developed. And that's something humans have never willingly done."

I'm looking at out my home office window as I type this and, if you're correct, what I'm seeing is some kind of mirage. You're telling me it's not actually eleven acres filled with maples, oak, cherry and dogwood on what was, when I purchased this land 14 years ago, a farm. Nope. A human like me would never do something like that!

Question: are the seven deer, two bunnies, and countless birds I'm seeing also figments of my imagination?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

matbury (3458347) | about 4 months ago | (#47700817)

Geoengineering is yet another stalling tactic by the fossil fuels industry, like carbon capture and storage. They promise huge grants and investments into research which stimulates a lot of interest from researchers and universities who are desperate for the money. They'll build a bunch of white elephant projects and then move on to the next grant while the fossil fuels industry thinks up yet another stalling tactic. If you're not convinced about how ridiculous geoengineering as a concpet is, check out what Christopher Williams has to say: Can Geo-Engineering Save the Planet? http://therealnews.com/t2/inde... [therealnews.com]

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47702101)

If you're just presenting a view on rainforests ("lungs of the world") it is one thing. But if you are hinting towards planting trees being not so great an idea, here is one profit motive for you to consider:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samboja_Lestari

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/willie_smits_restores_a_rainforest.html

Works beautifully *economically*.

Only problem: big corporations cant get millions per quarter, alas, nature works slowly.

Can be done. Has been done. Makes money for locals. Makes for tourism revenue. Makes a healthier region. Only reason not to do it is just what GP said, the filthy rich don't *need* it.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Insightful)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 4 months ago | (#47699361)

I like planting trees but I'm under no illusion that it will solve the problem. We're burning fossil fuels in a few centuries that took 10's to 100's of thousands to millions of years to lay down. I would expect it to take a similar amount of time to reverse the CO2 levels.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Informative)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 4 months ago | (#47699665)

Most conversion of CO2 to O2 is done by algae and other marine life (93% iirc). Trees only contribute a very small percentage. You can increase algae to absorb CO2, but having more algae is not a good thing - it creates toxic environments that kill other types of life: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

By the way this is what a lot of people get wrong when they say 'CO2 is plant food!!'

The CO2 problem is a huge problem we've created that both environmentalists and anti-environmentalists usually vastly underestimate.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1, Troll)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47699997)

You can increase algae to absorb CO2, but having more algae is not a good thing - it creates toxic environments that kill other types of life

So algae is not a pure, unalloyed good. Still doesn't mean that there's anything seriously wrong with creating algae blooms in certain areas in order to consume and sequester CO2.

The CO2 problem is a huge problem we've created that both environmentalists and anti-environmentalists usually vastly underestimate.

Where's the evidence of this vast underestimate?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (5, Interesting)

raind (174356) | about 4 months ago | (#47700463)

Toledo Ohio residents can tell you how that algae bloom worked for them: http://www.motherjones.com/tom... [motherjones.com]

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47701681)

What "CO2 problem" are you talking about?

www.climatedepot.com

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 4 months ago | (#47700321)

>Don't believe me? Fine, don't take my word for it. Heck, even that bastion of free enterprise, The Economist got behind that idea!

Neither of those sources have run the numbers on what reforestation would cost. I have.

>So, why is not implemented on a large scale?

It's too expensive, it will require too much water (which we don't have), and consume millions of acres of arable land - which we also don't have without water.

Sometimes the trees go up in smoke too (1)

Admiral_Bob2000 (1222180) | about 4 months ago | (#47700521)

The problem with relying on planting more trees to absorb excess CO2 is that in some parts of the world (e.g. southern Australia) the climate is dry yet warm enough to create conditions rife for bushfires to easily spread rapidly, undoing all the human effort spent on planting them in a matter of minutes.

Quite often these bushfires start by lightning strikes, so it's very difficult to eliminate the prospect of them entirely. The only practical alternative is to do periodic controlled prescribed fuel-reduction burn-offs, which again produce CO2 that reduces the overall CO2 reduction by the forest itself.

I have a better idea (2)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 4 months ago | (#47698929)

How about we just stop dumping CO2 into the atmosphere and see how that goes? If not, why not? Then the real priorities are revealed.

Re:I have a better idea (3, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#47699063)

You could propose that as a geoengineering experiment.

But the short term costs are horrendous. Billions dead. Unlikely to be a good tradeoff.

Re:I have a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47701377)

But the short term costs are horrendous. Billions dead.

Talk about Alarmism. You anti-nuclear guys really believe this shit, hey?

Re:I have a better idea (2, Insightful)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | about 4 months ago | (#47699331)

To paraphrase, "How about just shutting down all industry and going back to the caves?" A de-industrialized civilization could only support billions fewer people than are alive today. You would need to 'cull' all of the excess. But really, westerns will never voluntarily accept even energy poverty, so your mass-extermination plan is a no-starter.

deja vu (0)

roc97007 (608802) | about 4 months ago | (#47698961)

Wait, didn't I hear something similar back in the seventies [washingtonsblog.com] ? Hope this works out better.

Re:deja vu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47699129)

Because linking to revisionist drivel on politically motivated, polemical blogs is exactly the same as one of the world's best-renowned and longest established scientific research bodies suggesting it's time we had a framework for conducting a new type of experiment that, like it or not, people are going to do anyway despite the potential for disaster.

Re:deja vu (1)

Mspangler (770054) | about 4 months ago | (#47699891)

Actually, you have a point. And so does the plan to make plans for geological engineering. The climate has not been stable for 2 million years. If we don't manage to overheat it (by which I mean get back to at least mid-Miocene standards), then it will fall into another ice age. Like the last one that pushed all the way down to Long Island.

So one way or another humans are going to have to stabilize the climate, or go back to migrating around the edges of the ice (whereever they may be). And the coast lines as well, remember that sea level goes up and down 100 meters during an ice age cycle. Try keeping your ports operating through that.

Ahh The Royal Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47699045)

Another organization that has long been infiltrated by the Rothchilds

Experiment on Venus (2)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 4 months ago | (#47699155)

Experiment on Venus first. I'd rather not suffer through yet more perturbations on Earth thankyouverymuch.

Venus has a serious greenhouse problem. Fix that, then we'll talk.

Re:Experiment on Venus (1)

smaddox (928261) | about 4 months ago | (#47700581)

There are probably some experiments that could be attempted on Venus, but due to the lack of life, which has been critical for stabilizing Earth's climate by sequestering CO2, many could not.

Re:Experiment on Venus (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47701317)

Experiment on Venus first.

God already did. It didn't go so well.

Re:Experiment on Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47701329)

We Moltenites beg to differ.

first poster is right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47699311)

you know ... if only we could establish a connection between co2 gas in a mostly nitrogen gas matrix and rising background radiation then we could maybe say that the increasing man-made background radiation is resonating with the co2 molecules and making them white-hot angry ....
obviously we dont need less background radiation because we need more for profit but we can make people breath less.

framework (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47699323)

Frameworks are shit. Those bastards at the Royal Society of London should be ashamed of themselves for foisting yet another framework on the people of Earth.

Royal Coaches or Royal Koch'es? (2)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 4 months ago | (#47699465)

'Royally Fucked'". That's what the 'Royal Society of London' should honestly tell its public, and add: "unless you cut down on Carbon Dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use".
But they know what that means.

One demand (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47699793)

If they can make hurricanes only hit denier neighborhoods, I'm all in!

Re:One demand (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about 4 months ago | (#47700753)

There are denier neighborhoods? Clusters of deniers who live together to plot the destruction of the earth while taking huge amounts of money from fossil fuel companies?

What an amazing fantasy world you live in.

In general geoengineering makes it worse (3, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 4 months ago | (#47699799)

You have to keep the flow up as the environment gets worse, and at some point you run out of the resources to geoengineer, which causes a kickback effect that is a large multiple of the geoengineered impact.

Think of it as applying the brakes lightly at the same time that you're flooring the accelerator.

Then you take your foot off the brake while you're going down a steep decline, where you started at a mild decline.

Suddenly you're careening down the hill, out of control.

The best thing to do is stop subsidizing bad behavior that increases it (e.g. fossil fuels) and start requiring all new construction to meet new energy codes (half of all energy use is to heat and cool buildings, and passive solar and insulation can cut that dramatically) while you retrofit any existing fossil fuel plants (e.g. using cogeneration for all pre-2000 coal plants, and phasing out the dirtiest plants by expiring reauthorizations for permits when they come due.

People like to pretend massive change is needed. Energy is not a Binary On/Off thing - a partial change by the largest consumers (e.g. China) causes massive change. Air travel is the largest personal behavior change for people who live in cities (replace old jets with 787s and turboprops and build high speed rail).

There, that's half your carbon impact.

Now stop whining.

Re:In general geoengineering makes it worse (1)

whodunit (2851793) | about 4 months ago | (#47702009)

How much energy will be required to power mag-lev rails that cross the vast distances of the American midwest/breadbasket, and all the branch lines required to provide service to the largely distributed population of the US? I'm not saying it's infeasible, but "high speed rail" gets thrown around a lot as some kind of magic bullet, as well as characterizing the most energy-dense, easily-utilizable energy source available as a "bad habit" that we're "addicted to," as if it's only willpower and not the stark realities of changing an entire nation's power and transit architecture that stymie us.

Time to revoke fossil fuel's social licence (2, Interesting)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 4 months ago | (#47700147)

In light of reporting in the July-August issue on Harvard’s position on fossil fuel divestment, we wrote Messrs. Paul J. Finnegan and James F. Rothenberg [members of the Harvard Corporation, and Treasurer and past Treasurer, respectively], expressing the perspective summarized below.

Harvard currently holds substantial investments in fossil fuel. The past is no longer prologue for this asset class.

The scientific community—including Harvard’s distinguished climate-related faculty—assert the world must hold global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees C above the preindustrial figure. Governments agree. And, yet, we have already gone half the distance to this ceiling, and are actually accelerating our rapid approach to it. We face an existential planetary threat.

By investing in fossil fuel companies that cling to the outdated business model of measuring success by discovery of new reserves, Harvard is encouraging (and expecting to profit from) the search for more fossil fuel—which will become unburnable if we stabilize global temperatures at levels necessary to sustain life as we know it. When the lid is put on, and carbon emissions are severely limited—as they must be—Harvard will be left holding stranded and devalued assets that can never be burned. (Proven reserves are three to four times what’s needed to transition to renewables by 2050.)

Across the country, hundreds of student organizations work to persuade their institutions’ endowments to divest. Sooner or later, as in the case of companies doing business in apartheid South Africa, divestment from fossil fuel companies will occur. Harvard should be among the first to do so. There are strong, independently sufficient arguments beyond the financial one of stranding to justify divestment. They include the moral (it is repugnant to profit from enterprises directly responsible for carbon emissions or to allow shareholder funds to be deployed in searching for more fossil fuel), the practical (a well-led institution should not wound itself by permitting endowment holdings to demoralize faculty and students, with adverse effects on quality of education, enrollment, and campus environment) and, in Harvard’s case, the unique opportunity (and corresponding duty) it has, as one of a handful of world leaders in education, to lead on this planetary issue.

We support these other arguments for divestment. However, we wanted to bring the financial argument, in particular, to Harvard’s attention. Over the past three years, equities in the coal industry declined by over 60 percent while the S&P 500 rose by some 47 percent. Coal, we submit, is the “canary in the oil well.” Disinvestment now, before this opinion becomes commonplace, is just sound, risk-averse investment judgment, fitting well within the duties of a fiduciary.

Bevis Longstreth, J.D. ’61
Retired partner, Debevoise & Plimpton; former member, Securities and Exchange Commission

Timothy E. Wirth ’61
Former U.S. Senator, president of the United Nations Foundation, and Harvard Overseer
http://harvardmagazine.com/201... [harvardmagazine.com]

Re:Time to revoke fossil fuel's social licence (1)

smaddox (928261) | about 4 months ago | (#47700619)

Three years is hardly a long term trend--coal will likely bounce back, at least a couple more times. Also, if you think oil and natural gas are going away after we just discovered how to cheaply extract it from shale, you're deluding yourself. Renewable energy continues to get cheaper, and I fully hope and expect it to continue to play an ever increasing role, but it's not ready to completely replace fossil fuels. Not yet. If the major global economies decided to internalize the currently external costs of fossil fuels, it would definitely speed things up, though.

Re:Time to revoke fossil fuel's social licence (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 4 months ago | (#47700901)

Are bouncing around "assets" really the sort of thing the endowment should be involved with?

Re:Time to revoke fossil fuel's social licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47700843)

Dear mdsolar,

If what you seem to constantly preach, such as elimination of nuclear power and the other feel-good initiatives, comes about, at an obvious cost to human standard of living, if not human lives, will you stand up and say "sorry, I was wrong"? Or will you, in your stubborn fanaticism, say that we haven't done enough, and keep following what you think to be the only true path?

Please, spend a small part of your life educating yourself about the problems and concerns of others. Listen to reasoned arguments, evidence, engineering. Perhaps then you will realize that you are proselytizing a religion, instead of looking for solutions. You spend so much time informing others of your perfect opinion. Perhaps you should take some time to learn and understand the opinions of others, those that spend their life being productive, not polemic.

Regards,
Someone who wishes you, and everyone, a sane future.

Re:Time to revoke fossil fuel's social licence (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 4 months ago | (#47700883)

You have no complaint
You are what your are and you ain't what you ain't
So listen up Buster, and listen up good
Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-C... [rmi.org]

Something that works (0)

whodunit (2851793) | about 4 months ago | (#47701975)

As an evil seal-clubbing conservative, the issue of AGW has never been whether it's happening (it is,) or what's causing it (its us.) It's all about what we're supposed to do about it. This is where all the politics and shady buisness comes into it; the oft-exaggerated consequences, the billions of federal dollars poured into startup grants and tax credits for alternative energy (which will, at BEST, slightly supplement the existing grid) and above all, insane proposed laws and penalties that would beggar entire economies: all to affect a laughably insignificant reduction in emissions even as China and third-world slash/burn farmers (who have no choice, lest they starve,) keep pumping carbon into the air at a tremendous rate.

It is refreshing to see some scientists recognizing that a practical, significant counter to global warming that is feasible within the economic and political world we live in will require bigger thinking and more drastic measures. This is of course anathema to the enviromentalist movements behind much of the AGW awareness push, who view enviromental quality as an end unto itself, people be damned.
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