Friday, May 08, 2015

Climate Engineering For Profit

Climate engineering is an emerging solution in search of a problem.  Our planet's periodic temperature changes may not be radical enough to warrant spewing dust or water vapor into the upper atmosphere.  That won't stop some motivated groups from trying.

The science behind climate engineering's effectiveness is even more contentious than the science behind climate change theories.  Even the IPCC is skeptical of climate engineering.  How much climate engineering is needed to normalize the planet?  How much will it cost?  Who will pay for it?  Modeling atmospheric modifications in laboratories is not enough to determine policy impacts.  Other policy options, such as carbon taxes and carbon trading regimes, are already in place.

Planet hackers who worry about introducing a profit motive into climate engineering need to get real.  Nothing big happens without an economic incentive driving behavior.  Carbon trading has already introduced private investment into climate modification.  Private investors could fund small-scale climate engineering in fertile regions to enhance crop yields.  Some iron fertilization projects have shown limited results; this is the natural result of allowing private investors to experiment with novel ideas.

Someone is going to make a buck from climate-related phenomena.  The easiest way to moderate climate change is to plant trees.  People have been doing that since the first Arbor Day, for crying out loud.  Demand for saplings means timber REITs have fat years ahead.  More exotic approaches that require adventures into the upper atmosphere may eventually benefit specialized aviation services, if any governments with deep pockets are willing to fund such programs.  It is perfectly okay to make a fortune by saving the planet.