I argued on my Climate Cliff page that it could already be too late to stop climate change running away from us despite massive carbon cuts.
If we instituted a truly massive ‘war-time economy’ against burning coal and oil and gas, there might still be a chance to avoid the climate cliff and the sheer cost of geo-engineering. (See footnote). But I don’t see it happening. We’re still pumping out ever more CO2. So what can we do if we go over the Climate Cliff?
What is the ‘crash position’?
Massive seaweed farms: could stimulate the ocean ecology and feed 10 billion people, give medical and concrete building materials, dump masses of seaweed into oceanic trenches where their carbon is trapped for thousands of years, fertilise land agriculture and return CO2 to safe levels this century.
Solar shield: pour dust into the upper atmosphere to shield us from the sun. This may be one of the cheapest ’emergency cures’ but could have nasty side effects if we try to cancel all the warming. Even advocates warn we should only cancel half the warming this way.
Olivine dust: Spreading this dust across grasslands will suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and soak up our annual emissions for ‘only’ $200 Billion a year. But see my note on cost below!
But all this sheer investment should go into nukes in the first place!
The tragedy is that next generation reactors could come off the assembly line at about $2 billion each. That’s 100 Gigawatt reactors a year, which is nothing to a global GDP of $75 TRILLION annually. The tragedy is that $200 billion a year is most of the money we need to fix climate change! The obvious conclusion:-
1. If we act fast enough right now we could save a stack of money, save a stack of ecosystems, and save a stack of lives by preventing the worst of climate change. Then we wouldn’t have to spend money on these geo-engineering ‘cures’. As the Stern and Garnaut Reports both concluded, prevention is far, far cheaper than a cure. 20 times cheaper!
2. If we leave it too late, we will be stuck with the bill for both the clean energy we have to build anyway and these geo-engineering schemes! We will still have to spend the money to build those nukes. We’ll still be paying the substantial health bills of coal and oil and gas, and just delaying the inevitable.