Geoengineering Is in the Air

Levitt recently wrote about geoengineering going mainstream — i.e., being featured in the M.I.T. Technology Review. That fine publication may not be as “mainstream” for the rest of us as it is for Levitt. But now NBC Nightly News has weighed in on the topic. There’s nothing in the piece that will surprise anyone who’s read SuperFreakonomics, and it discusses some of the oldest and least practical modes of geoengineering as opposed to the ideas put forth by Nathan Myhrvold and his team at Intellectual Ventures (see this recent Myhrvold interview by Fareed Zakaria, titled “Climate Change Freakonomist”). But it’s interesting to see such a complicated and controversial topic start to get a public airing. Of course if the Mayon volcano in the Philippines turns into a Mount Pinatubo-size eruption, then we’ll probably be hearing a lot more about how sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere — whether put there by nature or by scientists — cools the earth.

(Hat tip: Daniel Lippman.)

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  1. Craig says:

    Maybe the sulfur dixoide will hide the decline.

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  2. Rajiv Ramaratnam says:

    Maybe beer has something to do with this: http://tinyurl.com/y8ry5sc

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  3. blumstone says:

    this is sad. A non-scientist passing glib judgement on good and bad geo-engineering, as though he has a right to this opinion, for some reason – and in the process putting in a plug for his pals at a private corporation – nice free product placement, Mr. Dubner! Well done! Equally sad is the lauding of geo-engineering making the NBC Nightly News as a “public hearing”. As though in 2 minutes this extremely complex scientific issue could possibly be given something resembling a “hearing”.

    Finally, most sad of all: U. Chicago economists, the authors of Freakenomics, who got EVERYTHING WRONG in their own field, and I mean absolutely, completely flat-out everything, in their own field, instead of offering a few mea culpas, regard themselves as the only hard-nosed thinkers capable of proper objectivity to investigate anything. And why did they get everything wrong in their own field? Because of an incredibly dreamy, self-serving belief system built around efficient market gobbledy-gook, which so many non-economists saw right through.

    While we’re asking for resignations from corporate CEOs, why not demand a few from economists who contributed to our economic fiasco with their theory that market bubbles were impossible, so there was nothing to worry about? When do these guys lose THEIR jobs?

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  4. MeToo says:

    Volcanoes cool the earth? I thought they were the greatest contributors to CO2, which is supposedly warming the earth, per Al Gore, COI of Generation Investment Management, LLP.

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  5. Jason S says:

    Ok normally I don’t comment on all the comments that get something wrong but after reading #3 I just had to say something.

    Are you kidding me?

    That was the most ignorant uneducated waste of space I have seen on here in some time.
    First off, this is a blog so everyone gets to state their opinion regardless of whether you think they are entitled to or not. Which is why you have the right to post your opinion, regardless of how wrong it may be.
    Also, the post was about the fact that this topic is starting to break through to the public as a topic of conversation and interest….starting to. It wasn’t stating that it was the ultimate source of all knowledge and the matter was settled.

    But perhaps the part that actually angered me was the blatent and uneducated statement that all economists got everything wrong. I disagree with most of what is in economic academics nowadays, as many others do, but the idea that everyone got everything wrong is just plain dumb. People have seen this coming for years and while they weren’t always the popular and well known people these consequences are not new. Also, the areas that Freakonomics studies the most is Micro economic theories, in fact it has been flat out stated by the authors that Macro theory is a completely different animal.

    Micro economics is the study of a transaction or series of transactions and trying to find out what caused it and what came of it. Then taking that and trying to see if it can be applied to other areas using that reasoning. It does not predict the future of what might happen when a quasi governmental mortgage lender and certain policical pressures create a climate for bad loans to be made and then for those loans to later be sold in securities that were badly marketed and rated poorly because of lack of knowledge which in turn caused the debt structures of most companies who depend on “safe” investments like mortgages to collapse and mix in greed and you get a perfect storm of problems.

    So if you are so smart why didn’t you see it coming?

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  6. aaron says:

    Will we also start hearing how volcanic activity correlates with solar activity and see some investigation into causal relationships?

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  7. Ted says:

    I agree with #6 that volcanoes caused the sun. Scientists need to put some hard work in on this.

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