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The Lure of Climate Entrepreneurism (bostonreview.net)
52 points by huihuiilly 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments

The book referenced in the review is "After Geoengineering" [1] by Holly Jean Buck

Interesting premise. Full disclosure I just noticed I'm quoted in the book!

Overview: "Climate engineering is a dystopian project. But as the human species hurtles ever faster towards its own extinction, geoengineering as a temporary fix, to buy time for carbon removal, is a seductive idea. We are right to fear that geoengineering will be used to maintain the status quo, but is there another possible future after geoengineering? Can these technologies and practices be used as technologies of repair, to bring carbon levels back down to pre-industrial levels? Are there possibilities for massive intentional intervention in the climate that are democratic, decentralized, or participatory? Is there a scenario where the people can define and enact geoengineering on our own terms?"

[1] https://www.amazon.com/After-Geoengineering-Climate-Tragedy-...

We bulldozed past any reasonable hope of solving climate change by reducing quality of life. The sooner people stop holding on to some misguided hope that we will somehow all come together and transition to a 100% green society in the next decade or two the sooner we can start allocating resources to solving the problem rather than feel good measures.

"One project funded by the U.S. military aims to grow seaweed—to be used as food and livestock feed (seaweed-fed cows belch less methane), or burned as bioenergy—with automated submarine elevators that bring kelp up to the surface during the day for sunlight and then plunge them to the nutrient-rich ocean depths at night.'Drone submarines,' Buck explains, 'would tow these kelp farms to new waters, communicating with harvesters by satellite, which would save labor costs.' If seaweed bioenergy were paired with CCS to become a BECCS project—Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage, the new darling of the IPCC—it could also reduce atmospheric carbon (by trapping it in kelp biomass).

I’ve always felt like there is a missing element in trapping CO2 in biomass (kelp, trees, etc). Maybe someone can help me here. Doesn’t the dead tree or dead kelp eventually decompose and eventually though microbial action release a great deal is the absorbed CO2 back to the atmosphere?

Perhaps we can bury it and keep it out of the atmosphere indefinitely just as prehistoric forests pulled CO2 out of the prehistoric atmosphere that was eventually covered and turned into underground hydrocarbons.

Is there a practical way we can do that to lower CO2? I’m sure someone has looked at that.

Just a programmer, so excuse the lay explanation. My understanding is that the goal is to get the CO2 effectively locked in a cycle. Trees naturally spread themselves, obviously, and I would expect the net growth of trees to be > 1 annually (more than 1 new tree grows for every tree that dies, every year). However even if the rate was < 1 (perhaps in the case where trees only thrive in the area with human help like.. the Sahara), then at least that CO2 was sequestered from the air for some years, somewhat alleviating the problem.

If tree decomposition is really a problem, maybe we can automate a carpentry dystopia. The year is 2080 and there are just chairs and cabinets as far as the eye can see.

I wonder why you preface your idea with "just a programmer"? The article talks about how we are exiting the era of ideas and entering the time for deliberate and sustained action, and even though "programming" in this context is about automating computers to do things - we very much will be programming our own careers and those of future generations to carry on these long term geoengineering goals.

One example from the article is crushing mountain sized amounts of rock (De Beers has expressed interest, artificially incentivized by government imposed carbon credits), so that the increased surface area may absorb CO2 and then be dropped into the ocean as limestone. This may hold onto CO2 more effectively and could solve the issue referenced by our parent comment (organic carbon sequestration structures may dissolve on their own and return to the atmosphere). Of course, crushing this amount of rock and transporting it would require enormous amounts of energy...

Vice news did a special years ago about a Chinese "vaccuum" that could absorb and compress CO2, and the result was hard as rock and could be made into jewelry. The Wooden skyscraper comes to mind. The home construction industry would eventually be sequestering carbon using the trees planted a decade or two prior.

Good point though, I haven't even considered that a trillion trees planted over the next few years would be nullified if they were allowed to decompose...

The kelp elevator example caught my attention because oceans are so large ( operations wouldn't be competing for land), the US Navy is the most funded branch, and the resulting cattle feed emits less methane. It's less of a permanent sequester and more of a resource loop modification. CO2 is a useful resource in this context (even though there is much talk about limiting meat consumption, which could limit the market).

There are additional examples in the article, but they have more to do with deflecting sunlight. In this case, could we still have lots of atmospheric CO2 (to be used as a resource) while still reducing temperatures and regenerating white ice?


Meanwhile the grownups on all sides are calling for a carbon tax.

This is a useful essay and I can't disagree with any of the points made, but I'm afraid it strikes me as over-intellectualized and over-written. The points being discussed don't demand such dense language or esoteric diction — to the extent, even, that I think it will turn many would-be readers away. If I had a free hour maybe I'd write a (much) shorter and more approachable TL;DR, but, alas...

An opposing viewpoint in the interests of objectivity https://www.amazon.com/Green-Tyranny-Exposing-Totalitarian-I...

In the discussing the "acid rain scare" and Scandinavia, the situation with fish and lakes there is worthwhile understanding. I did a quick google, but my searching is probably no better than yours:



There may or may not be be a story on acidification of lakes in the USA, but I am ignorant on that.

This article is confusing me, are conservatives and neoliberals the same?

Fiscally, yes.

SOCIALIST: late capitalism has created a moral rot that pervades our entire society NEOLIBERAL: but imagine if we monetized the rot

Spiral dynamics stage GREEN vs stage ORANGE

Here's a perfect opportunity for anyone that sees the world through the lens of Marxism to make a bet on the future. I found the essay full of post-modernist style of language and consequently difficult for me to interpret as actionable.

The Obamas don't seem to be investing in the direction suggested by this essay; they are spending $15 Million on an estate that will be low as 3ft above sea level according to [1] and [2]. Perhaps someone has a more authoritative citation on the elevation of their future home.

[1] https://www.whatismyelevation.com/location/41.36189,-70.5457...

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathleenhowley/2019/09/01/insid...

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