366: A Behavior Control Problem Writ Really, Really Large

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C-Realm_366KMO welcomes techno-optimist Eric Boyd back to the C-Realm to talk about the barrage of feel-good propaganda about energy independence for Saudi America from unconventional sources of hydrocarbon energy. KMO and Eric agree that sources of energy abound, and that in the long run, exotic energy sources like seafloor methane clathrates and  synthetic fuels made by using nanotechnology to extract carbon from the atmosphere hold great promise but that these visions are unhelpful distractions from the needs of the present historical moment. They both agree that carbon trading is a farce and that geoengineering is all but inevitable.

 

Music by Mamie Minch.

  • BruceW

    Interesting discussion, but I sensed you weren’t getting the pushback you expected from Eric on these topics – maybe the Vault-enabled portion will dig deeper. Two things struck me as I was listening this morning: environmental groups have taken the route involving compromise because they wanted to make political gains, thinking we had more time to protect valuable ecosystems and their endangered components. Clearly, we do not, and gaining a political foothold (or maintaining the one already established) begins to look like a fool’s errand in this era of fractured partisan gamesmanship and crony capitalism. Even 350.org’s divestiture strategy seems like a long row to hoe to get to anything like mitigation.

    Eric’s mention of “natural capitalism” (a term I hadn’t heard of), taking into account Planet, People, and Profit, brought to mind the three permaculture ethics of Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share (investment of surplus back into maintenance of the natural systems that support the other two ethics.) The crucial difference, of course, is the way in which corporations assess “profit” – and what they do with it after determining that it’s there. Along the same lines as the previous argument, I’d say permaculture principles represent a shorter path towards the goal of mitigating climate disaster than trying to change corporate accounting systems.

  • solarbobky

    A few thoughts:
    We already have a molecular technology that removes carbon from the atmosphere, It’s called photosynthesis. We know it works!
    Reflecting sunlight doesn’t deal with the huge issue of ocean acidification, and the resulting possible disruption of the ocean food chain. C4 plants, which include corn, sugar cane, millet, and sorghum, do not reach light saturation in full sunlight. Which is to say that any shading will reduce production. (C4 plants are more efficient with water and handle high temperatures better, but aren’t as able to utilize higher CO2 levels than the more common C3 plants, which includes most other plants, except some mostly arid land plants that are CAM.)

    Natural Capitalism presumes the market can save us… if we can set the prices right. But who gets to decide what the right prices are (and thereby determining actual demand, a.k.a. consumption)? I think that this realistically presumes a powerful entity willing and able to effectively levy taxes, including very high taxes on products like coal, oil, synthetic pesticides… Unlikely in the current political climate.