This morning, I came across this post on Scientific American about geoengineering.
Geoengineering is inevitable, but before we get there, sustainability should be our focus. We must get our own needs in line so we can cooperate on these larger issues. We must maintain our standard of developing more sustainable systems to reach the growing demand for shelter, food, water and energy.
The answers themselves will obviously come from nature. For instance, bio-engineering plant, microbial and animal life with metabolic pathways to break down/remove hazardous pollutants from the ecosystem while producing useful byproducts. Resilient and highly adaptable crops, or methods for growing those crops with optimal nutritional benefit. We will need a twofold energy plan that focuses on not only developing energy but decreasing demand through the use of systems that require less of it. We will need better ways to harness the 97% of Earth’s water that we cannot drink or use to grow crops.
All of this is about sustainability, not geoengineering. But how can we contend with the forces of nature if we cannot even provide for ourselves in such a way that we have full confidence we’re not the cause of it? In a world like that, we’re working against ourselves.
Any fan of science fiction is familiar with the dysotopic ravaged planet; these scenarios are often in part the ironic result of greed, selfishness and species-wide ignorance and immaturity. It seems cynical, but the truth is we are infallible creatures with egos and it is naive and foolish to think we can just go about controlling the weather. Even the most minute changes to the planet’s balancing act could have catastrophic results.
Regardless of what side of the fence you’re standing, the debate between man made vs. natural climate change shows the enormous complexity of how our planet sits on this delicate balance. With enough time, it will not matter how sustainable we are because our planet will change regardless.
This will require us to curate the ecosystem to suit our own survival. To get there, we absolutely need to know how to provide for ourselves without destroying what we already have. And this is where the line crosses; by building sustainability to fulfill our needs, we take our first steps towards maintaining the balance. Geoengineering is inevitable.
Geoengineering will come with enormous global responsibility and cooperation that frankly does not exist yet right now. In my most recent book, I briefly mention that every development comes with a cost; we accept responsibility for those things that humanity once attributed to the Gods.
The weather affects us all; we literally call it an “act of God”. If we are to survive in a post-geoengineering world, we must recognize that we are assuming the burden. The question of man-made or natural becomes moot, because once we cross that line, there is no going back. Everything will be a man-made struggle from that point forward. Many already see it that way.
Without a system of trial and error we can ruin everything. Obviously, anything we execute to affect the climate will need to be backed with a LOT of testing. I think the ideal platform for this testing would be a habitable virtual simulation of the entire planet where various methods could be measured both short-term and long-term results. This seems like science fiction now, but from my point of view, this is absolutely necessary for the safety of our planet and to circumvent the plethora of nasty scenarios we imagine (and those we haven’t fathomed).
Our planet had billions of years to finally reach the stability we enjoy today. We are adapted to live in this atmosphere. Nature is a perpetual state of change. If we plan to stay here we need to keep it balanced, and the first step to getting there is to get our own house in order.