The BBC has aired a 1-hour documentary entitled ‘Five Ways to Save the World’. It features five specialised viewpoints on how we might cool the world through human management of the ecosystem. The videos below are portions of this documentary. It would be interesting to get your thoughts on this topic.
The Five Ways:
Artificial CO2-collectors positioned all over the planet
Sending very thin lightweight mirrors into space (20 tons worth) to deflect and reduce the amount of sunlight reaching earth.
- A fleet of remote controlled ‘sailing ships’ would spray fine sea water particles into clouds, the salt increasing their thickness, causing them to block and reflect more sunlight.
- Firing hundreds of rockets which would release tons of sulphur into the stratosphere, creating a sunscreen around the Earth.
- Fertilising the oceans with iron and nitrogen to stimulate increased phytoplankton activity – encouraging increased CO2 absorption.
- Giant synthetic trees that would filter CO2 out of the atmosphere.
A few classic statements from the program:
- “Dramatic plans are now under serious discussion, to engineer the world before it’s too late.”
- “We’re meddling with it already, so we need to meddle with it some more, and maybe do something good this time.”
- “So has Klaus Lackner found a way of accommodating our excessive burning of fossil fuels, so we can, for the time being at least, continue living our energy rich lives?”
So, guys, what do you think?
I wonder, if we were to embark on such global manipulations, would all the billions of people to be affected get a chance to vote on it?
For myself, these schemes are, despite the credentials of their proponents, all a continuation of the simplistic reductionist thinking that got us into this mess in the first place. As humans we seem to have a curious mixture of complete awe over the complexities of natural systems, whilst somehow retaining a dangerous belief we can manipulate and manage them. Such simplistic tinkering reminds me of a ‘Whack-a-Mole’ game – where you defeat a problem in one place, and another pops up somewhere else as a direct result. And, while scientists are busy playing this game, grappling with an infinite chain reaction of events, the rest of the world continues with their industry and lifestyle habits – resting in the assurance that a saviour of the world, in the form of a bespectacled white lab-coat wearing scientist, will harness and wield the forces of nature to shape our future according to how we want to live (is it just me, or is the scientist starting to sound more like one of those super-villians from a batman movie..?).
If, after spending trillions of dollars on these ideas, they don’t solve our problems (or magnify them), will we get a refund? Of course not. But, more importantly, they wouldn’t be able to turn back the clock – to get us back to this moment in time, today, where we still have the possiblity to do something tangible (oh, unless we believe they actually can turn back the clock too?).
Probably the smartest sentence in the movie (in my subjective opinion):
Once you start managing nature, you’ve got to continue managing nature. It’s no use hoping it will restore itself to a new equilibrium set up by humans. Nature will need to be managed forever…