How to Cool the Planet
, by Jeff Goodell, and Hack the Planet
, by Eli Kintisch
Britain's Royal Society is celebrating its 350th anniversary this year, and even such an august scientific organization is no longer putting its stock in humanity's ability to curtail its CO2 emissions in time to prevent disaster. Last year the society complied a full report on plan B schemes
--ways to tinker with the planet on a grand scale to save us from ourselves. Ideas to hack the Earth are now mainstream, as seen in the mass market books by Jeff Goodell and Eli Kintisch that hit the now-familiar plans: seeding the sea with iron to encourage the growth of carbon-sequestering plankton, seeding the clouds with aerosols to reflect away more sunlight, seeding space with giant mirrors to cut the amount of solar energy that reaches our little blue marble.
"The rising interest in geoengineering is driven less by mad scientists than by spineless politicians," Goodell writes. He, like the scientists at the Royal Society, would prefer that we address our carbon emissions proactively and many years down the road look back at the idea of sci-fi scale planet tampering as sheer madness. But, we probably won't. We, most likely, will wait until the last minute and then splurge to save ourselves. However, he writes, geoengineering isn't a quick fix. It buys us some time, but we'll still have to live with the world we've created.
Now, if only our newly ruined planet had a name...