06 Nov 2009

Freaking Out Over Global Warming

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I elaborate on my views of the Superfreakonomics spat. This is mostly the same stuff, but I take the time to explain exactly what Levitt and Dubner discussed in case you’re new to “geoengineering”:

[Levitt and Dubner] argue that if global warming really is a threat, then it does not follow that governments need to enforce draconian cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, which would cost many trillions of dollars over the next few decades.

Instead, a “geoengineering” solution could be adopted to keep the earth cool despite increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Perhaps the most fanciful idea is to suspend a hose using helium balloons, in order to pump sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. This would reflect some of the incoming sunlight and arrest (or even reverse) global warming, just as occurred after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Best of all, this particular approach would only cost about $250 million total — less than what Al Gore’s foundation is spending just to “raise awareness” about climate change.

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