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Will civilization survive?  A loaded question I suppose, and anyway, people, if alive, will always be doing something, and that by definition that is their civilization.  

But what WE are doing is unsustainable, and we will not be doing it much longer.  So yes, OUR civilization will go, will COLLAPSE--whether we like it or not--and it is not a question of SEEKING to destroy our civilization, which is actually doing that particular job all by itself.  

I do believe good thought, including scientific knowledge, might be used--and indeed should be used--to ameliorate the consequences of what is happening now.  But the SO2 scheme is at least a double-edged sword--if it does not have more edges than that--because its capability for harm is at least as great as for good, and depends critically on who studies it and implements it and when.  To be a back-up plan, used only in need, in a context where sustainability is actually happening (not our world) is totally different from introducing it in the fore, with--as is clearly the case for some--the intention that the transition to sustainability be evaded and postponed.  In this latter scenerio SO2 will make the catastrophe of transition worse.  

Your point 2) opens an evil scenerio that never occurred to me:  A world thick with smog but kept just barely cool enough by heavy doses of stratospheric SO2, which must be perpetually increased as CO2 loading of the atmosphere continues, until we find effects from precipitating SO2 (acid rain returns) becoming important.  

Perhaps this was anticipated in Marge Percy's "Woman on the Edge of Time."  

But you are wrong to imply that this can be continued indefinitely, and that to oppose it is to be pro-warming.  It would just be another stage in the death-slide.  

Are you asking how can we persuade people to avoid this scenerio?  It is surely worth doing.  

I suspect there is a good reason to oppose stratospheric SO2 injection intuitively.  And should we find un-intuitive, logical and fact-based reasons?  That is a good idea.  

Your scenerio of point 2) is reason enough to oppose, but there is no reason not to have more facts.  

Migeru read me right.  The snap-back is not the problem of the SO2 returning, which is separate and not argued here.  It is that using SO2 to allow greater CO2 loading will mean that when the SO2 comes out of the stratosphere, the global warming will be greater and sharper than it otherwise would have been.  

This creates a more desolate post-boundary environment.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 07:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But what WE are doing is unsustainable, and we will not be doing it much longer.  So yes, OUR civilization will go, will COLLAPSE--whether we like it or not...

I agree that it isn't sustainable, and I don't expect it to last long by historic standards, or even by human-lifetime standards. Collapse is possible, but what I think more likely is a radical transformation (for better or worse) driven by increasingly powerful technologies. Self-destruction is one possibility, but not quite the same as collapse.

...its capability for harm is at least as great as for good, and depends critically on who studies it and implements it and when.

Yes. My main reason for bringing up this topic is that, a week ago, I realised that there may well be a "who", "when", and "why", and that we need to give this careful thought before it gets much higher on the public radar screen.

...A world thick with smog but kept just barely cool enough by heavy doses of stratospheric SO2, which must be perpetually increased as CO2 loading of the atmosphere continues, until we find effects from precipitating SO2 (acid rain returns) becoming important.

The numbers say that along an endlessly-increasing-fix path, acidity caused by SO2 would always be much less than that caused by CO2. The oceans would still acidify.

...you are wrong to imply that this can be continued indefinitely, and that to oppose it is to be pro-warming.

I'm sorry, I didn't intend to imply that it could continue indefinitely. I do think that, if the facts look as they do now, and if the debate slides in the direction that scares me, the label "pro-warming" could be made to stick.

I suspect there is a good reason to oppose stratospheric SO2 injection intuitively.  And should we find un-intuitive, logical and fact-based reasons?  That is a good idea.

Intense, sceptical evaluation is vital. I think there will be no problem in getting this to happen, however, because I can't imagine anything going forward before climate scientists model it inside-out and critics raise every imaginable objection, both good and bad. So, I recommend calling loudly for study, expecting to get it, and proceeding on that assumption.

What I'm encouraging here is that we consider which advocacy positions will and won't make sense, depending on what the facts seem to be at the time. I see pitfalls here that need to be clearly recognised and avoided.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 02:48:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Analysing the sunscreen proposal is a good thing to do, staying ahead of the curve and all. But you two also raise another question that I would phrase as this:

"Sacrifice the lifeboats to plug the holes in the ship or start tearing things from the ship to make make-shift lifeboats?"

And ay, that be a mighty good question.

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by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 09:49:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the image, but I don't understand how you intend for the metaphor to apply.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Wed Oct 18th, 2006 at 01:55:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is an image that has come to me during different discussions (internet and IRL), and seemed appropriate here as Gaianne is basically arguing against something that would worsen the situation in the lifeboats (snap back).

Perhaps it can be better formulated as: "At what time do you stop sacrificing the lifeboats to plug the holes in the ship and start tearing things from the ship to make make-shift lifeboats?"

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Oct 20th, 2006 at 11:38:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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