Friday, 31 January 2014

A new framing

I am at a very interesting meeting (EuTRACE partner meeting - and we are discussing framing. I novel (I think) idea hit me. There are several framings, none of which are ideal. As a general discussion 'CE' is challenging because there are many different techniques that work on varying spatio-temporal scales, with variable costs, impacts and social responses. Is afforestation really appropriate to be lumped in with CE and do they have, for example, the same time moral issues. CDR/SRM is also challenging, for similar reasons (although better if you recategorize ocean fertilization separately) or, as per EuTRACE use three exemplars (I think we've decided on BECCS, SAI and OF). A 'per technique' framing is better, but as the number of techniques and technological imaginaries expands, this becomes a real challenge. My idea is to regroup the techniques by where they act - i.e. land-based, ocean-based and atmospheric. I think this makes for an interesting new framing which I hope to explore over the next few days. It would put roof-whitening with afforestation and biochar, which, instinctively, makes some sense (in terms of scale of impact, level of personal responsibility, justice and governance). I think I need to think about this a bit, but, as always, I am using the blog as brain dump/aide memoir.

Saturday, 25 January 2014


OK - two brief things (it's exam week).

1). Two counter points to Al Gore's 'you're all bonkers and should be ashamed of yourself' bullshit...

Mine (actually a response to earlier comments) -

Josh Hortons -

2) I got challenged (indirectly) into trying to get my feelings on stratospheric SRM into one tweet (hashtag, actually). It was in response to me appearing (accidentally) on the comedy blog 'the bugle' A student had tweeted the link with the hashtag #SayNoToReflectiveParticles (listen to the blog for details - number 256 about 16 mins in).
I wrote this. On reflection I think it's OK....

it's not trending...


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

"Geoengineering's" profile rising (rapidly)

I note with a mixture of admiration, alarm and jealousy that David Keith got to speak on The Colbert Report last night. Google it, if you don't believe me. I'm not sure how it went to be honest. David's a smart guy but I suspect that this was a calculated risk and I don't know if it paid off - I can't currently bear to watch it, I'll check it out at some point. Back in academia climate engineering appears to be heading for the mainstream with several talks at AGU2013 speaking directly to the issue. I think this is a good thing, but I'm not completely sure. It's odd that the breaking of taboo fills me with some form of dread - academics can, on occasion, be very inward looking. 

GC11C-1014. A Multi-Model Examination of Climate Extremes in an Idealized Geoengineering Experiment
Charles Curry; Jana Sillmann; David Bronaugh

GC11D-1025. Solar Geoengineering: Questioning the “Winners and Losers” Paradigm (Invited)
Kate Ricke

GC21F-05. New Results from the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP)
Alan Robock; Ben Kravitz 

GC33A-1089. Impacts on Chinese Agriculture of Geoengineering and Smoke from Fires Ignited by Nuclear War
Lili Xia; Alan Robock

GC33C-1131. Microbially mediated carbon mineralization: Geoengineering a carbon-neutral mine 
Ian M. Power; Jenine McCutcheon; Anna L. Harrison; Siobhan A. Wilson; Gregory M. Dipple; Gordon Southam

In general I am not having that great a time at the moment; I've been overcome with melancholy. I suspect Christmas will do me good and provide me with a chance to relax and recover from what has been a pretty intense term.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Last, for now, in a series of media work on CE

I've not listened to the audio yet, but the transcript is how I remember the discussion going. Unlike the Indy article, I think I was able to capture some of the nuances about research and deployment.

The comments below the article (I know, I probably shouldn't read them) imply people still don't quite get that. I confess that I worry the research-deployment differentiation is at best difficult to convey and at worst an unrealistic personal construct - some sort of intellectual comfort blanket, or rose-coloured glasses, that allows me to rationalise my desire to research. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Independent on Sunday article

New article on CE/GE in the Independent on Sunday today. Framing is OK (except for playing God/ saving/destroying planet stuff) although my comments wholly negative on GE/CE which don't really capture the nuances of my position. It is hard to distinguish research from deployment, and there is no clear blue water either, but I think I was pretty clear on the need for research during discussions with Memphis (the author). It was quite an interesting interview, one of a number I've done in the last week or two. It irkes me slightly that, having battled to develop a clear personal framing, newspapers produce the most sensationalist of headlines sometimes. I guess that's the nature of the beast...

Monday, 14 October 2013

Article in the Sun online

Is here:

I can't quote the piece in its entirety (and apologies it is behind the Sun's paywall) but, before anyone worries about the title (and selling the idea of geoengineering), here's what I wrote in summary...

"Using solar radiation management would be very difficult politically. 

Which country should control the technology, or decide where the aerosols should be released? 

Which country gets to decide how cold it is, and what happens if there are unintended consequences? 

If weather patterns are changed, there could be severe fallout for countries which are suddenly getting a lot more rain than usual - or, more likely, a lot less. 

None of these techniques are perfect and none should be considered a silver bullet.  None have been tested on a large enough scale to be certain they would work. They should be considered no better than an insurance policy. 

They might help out if your house catches fire, but it would be better to stop it catching fire in the first place. 

Of course, there is a better option. Stop pumping as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Almost all climate scientists believe that we have very little time to make this change before we will have to either adapt to climate change or engineer a solution. "

I also talked about CDR in very general terms, and the editor did a bit of scene setting. 

It was difficult to write and the editor and I went back and forth on the wording a lot but I hope it was worth it. My aim was to open up the debate and be as frank as possible without, in any way, advocating any other choice than conventional mitigation. I guess some (including Jack Stilgoe) would legitimately ask if this was normalisation. I hope not...