Jack Uldrich
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Cool It With the New Questions

Posted in Energy, Questions, The Way We See the Problem

One of my preferred unlearning strategies is to ask a new question. To this end, I recently came across this interesting interview with Nathan Myhrvold. When the topic came to global climate change, he posed this interesting question: Can we cool earth off? He went on to add: 

The answer to that, surprisingly, is yes. And the reason goes back to it being a 1% effect. All you have to do is reflect 1% roughly of the light that hits Earth before it comes down, and you've solved the entire problem. It was recognized in the 1960s that sulfur dioxide does this naturally in the atmosphere. For relatively modest amounts of sulfur dioxide injected into the atmosphere, you could easily cool Earth by 1% or more, if you want.

Many of the people involved in the debate are anti-technology. Their argument is, "Guys like you got us in this problem; why the hell should we let you go do this again?"

And the answer to that is, of course: As soon as we developed agriculture, as soon as our population increased from a couple million across the whole planet, all of those things were unsustainable in the sense that we would have growth rates that depended on us getting smart and figuring something else out. The whole question is, do we give the human race half a chance to figure out that next smart thing.

I don't claim to know much about climate change and I certainly don't know how much of climate change an be attributed to mankind and how much to natural forces. I do know, however, that sometimes a good question is better than a mediocre solution.

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