Friday, February 23, 2007

Planetary engineering: Agony or thrill?

A journalist, Gwynne Dyer, published an essay earlier this month which sardonically proclaims: "Welcome to the job of planetary maintenance engineer." Dyer, who speaks to much of what we discussed today in the dingy library chamber, writes with an ominous tone; he confronts the challenge of geoengineering with mild dread. But why? Why not think of planetary engineering as something fun and interesting--something akin to an adventure? I don't suggest we should jump on the bunny trail and merrily start sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere like circus comedians clumsily pumping gas out of a burping helium balloon. But maybe we can think of it as a fun puzzle whose solving would mean a lot of learning and yet another validation of our ingenuity.

6 comments:

mlinden said...

Most puzzles I've tried to solve ended up in a wastepaper basket.

Jeff said...

Gwynne Dyer is a man, not a woman.

Jonathan Pfeiffer said...

Thanks, Jeff. I corrected it. "Gwynne" is not a name I (a Mohave Desert country bumpkin) have encountered much.

mlinden said...

I, a Cascade Mountain Cosmopolitan, haven't either:-)

PS ( :-) = very professional)

Jenn said...

I don't think it sounds like fun at all. Sometimes things should just be left alone.

Jonathan Pfeiffer said...

Leaving things alone, I fear, might mean allowing the needless suffering of millions or billions of persons. Under certain circumstances, climatic changes could lead to a humanitarian crisis. (I'm thinking about populations displaced from their homes to escape flooding, drought-induced famine, political tensison over water resources, and other sorts of turmoil.) Humans are alread intervening in the climate in a significant way. Under what conditions should we continue to intervene?

(I'll end my comment because I can no longer concentrate.)