[extropy-chat] Global warming news

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Sat Mar 25 21:42:19 UTC 2006

On 3/25/06, Robin Hanson <rhanson at gmu.edu> wrote:

> Surely many things that can go wrong between a general conceptual
> demonstration and a full scale solution to global warming.

Yes, but as you point out there are problems with the other solutions as
well.  To get more iron to dump into the ocean we have to mine more (but
there doesn't appear to be significant shortages in that respect).  To get
more phosphate is somewhat more problematic I suspect.  But we do have the
infrastructure (for iron mining for steel and phosphate production for
fertilizers already in place).  If there are problems I suspect they would
be related to dispersing the materials over a large enough oceanic
area/volume and/or physical distribution capacity for the effort (though one
does think of the "Liberty ship" effort during WWII and things like low cost
crop dusting planes).  I'm sure there are any number of companies that would
love a contract for a large number of UAV ocean dusters.

I just can't see any good reasons (currently) why such approaches would be
infeasible.  But I'm really rather shocked at how much screaming (and
scientific research) is going into proving its a problem and how little is
going into solutions like "cut back on CO2 production".  That solution will
*not* solve the problem of all of the CO2 which we have already put into the
atmosphere which will continue to warm the planet (though at a somewhat
slower pace).

Yes humanity will not go extinct due to global warming.   But those
> disruptions will have real costs, which we would prefer to avoid all
> else equal.  [snip]

Actually I'm not so sure.  Unless you envision zero (or negative) population
growth sometime over the next 50 years (or "real" nanotech enabling 8-10
billion people residing on yachts in international waters) I'd suggest that
warming up land in the northern latitudes is the best way to plan for an
expanded human population and provide them with the land resources required
to grow food, live in, etc.  Allow populations to grow in areas where
resource bases (water, agricultural land, etc.) are stretched to their
limits has consequences as well.  (We could start a side discussion about
the costs of certain population policies in China for example...)  I'd love
to see some forward-thinking politicians go on record and point out *why*
global warming is a good thing for humanity.

If you want to provide them with ammunition for that discussion I'd enjoy
reading the papers... :-)

For now, I think the best policy would be a gradually increasing tax on
fossil fuels with the money going directly into the hands of scientists or
startups (perhaps through organizations like the NSF or SBA?) where
politicians can do as little misdirecting as possible.  I believe the polls
in the U.S. indicate that the public would support such a policy.  The
public currently doesn't trust the politicians to use taxes wisely -- but
there is some level of confidence that scientists and small businesses
acting in their own self-interest will do so.

It could be argued that current high energy prices are already doing that
indirectly in some places -- all of the natural gas drilling & production in
Wyoming is providing the state with so much money (relative to its
population) that they are having trouble finding things to do with the funds
-- one place the legislature is dumping the money seems to be higher

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