When You’re Faced With A Gnarly Techno-Fix Mountain, Just Climate

Quick disclaimer: I’m certainly no climate expert, and I don’t fully understand all the numbers being used in these articles to describe the effects of climate change. What I did gather from reading these articles is that letting global warming of 1.5 C or 2 C are both bad, and at the current rate might occur faster than we think. Also, preventing this increase will have its positive outcomes, will prevent many negative ones including rising ocean levels and extinction of species, and will need to include carbon dioxide removal (IPCC Headline Statements). If we take a step back we see that we’re on the road to those environmental catastrophes resulting from climate change by 2040, and we need to shape the heck up before then so there’s a serious time crunch. This sounds really stressful at first, like there’s no hope because it’s all just happening too quickly. However, I think that we’ll be ok, thanks to my good buddy the Technological Fix. I don’t off the top of my head have the “cure” for climate change, but I do believe that as advanced as we are as a society, we can whip up a techno-fix, or several, and I think we have plenty of time to do this since the techno-fix seems to work well under pressure. Some ideas would be to focus on CO2 removal, or to replenish atmospheric components using technology, or to innovate the technology that’s changing our atmospheric composition so that it stops doing so, which we have already begun to do. No matter what we choose, we may need a band-aid (or several) for now so we can focus on the larger societal and environmental issues over more time or we may just be able to solve the problem using only techno-fixes. Either way, I think it can be done because we’re really really good at using technology to help solve our problems, and this really isn’t any different.

If we’re being completely honest here, I have always been slightly skeptical when it comes to the idea of climate change. No, I am not ignorant or uneducated or ignoring the numbers, I certainly believe in climate change, I just sometimes worry that certain groups overexaggerate the extent to which it is caused by humans. I also don’t take very kindly to being told that I am a horrible person who’s killing my planet simply because I exist and breathe and drive a car. That being said, I don’t need the lectures or the judgement based on my opinion, I just feel that it is important with a topic like this to understand where someone is coming from before you understand their argument. I don’t believe climate science is too young to be credible, but some of the data arguably is. Reading the IPCC articles, can we really say with one hundred percent certainty that those numbers mean what we think they mean, and furthermore apply them to the future? Based on Michael Reidy’s article, even back in the 19th century, John Tyndall understood the basics of climate science in terms of atmospheric composition (Reidy, 13). This shows that people have been studying our atmosphere and what would happen should its composition be altered for a moderately long time. The issue here is that astronomy has been around for ages, yet scientists can’t really prove a lot of things about outer space, and biology has been around for a long time as well, yet we still don’t know all the mysteries of our own human body. This doesn’t mean that climate change isn’t real, it just means that the part of climate science that people have trouble trusting is not the science itself, it’s the data and the theories and the findings that are still fairly new (and the political agenda that almost always accompanies).

7 thoughts on “When You’re Faced With A Gnarly Techno-Fix Mountain, Just Climate”

  1. How are you, Madalyn? I must say, I’ve seen a lot of your blog post titles and find them both fun and creative.

    I’ve never really doubted climate science myself, but I certainly can understand why somebody else might. It does seem like an extraordinary claim that tiny primates like ourselves can shift the temperature of an entire planet. It doesn’t help that carbon dioxide is invisible either. We can’t exactly point to the sky and say, “These molecules are all over the place!” We can only feel the effects. I do think the misanthropic approach some individuals take to address these issues is ineffective. Even in entertainment, it’s such a common theme for environmental messages to portray humans as the scum of the earth (Avatar, Ferngully, Captain Planet, take your pick). Honestly, I don’t want to sit through a two hour movie telling me how much I suck, and I think a lot of people can agree with me there. One of the most environmentally damaging activities is palm oil production (due to deforestation), but I wouldn’t call palm oil farmers “evil”. Many of them live in developing countries such as Indonesia. If they weren’t farmers, there’s a possibility they wouldn’t be able to find any work at all. To me, our first world perception of environmental issues is unrealistic and unfair to those who aren’t so fortunate. If we really care about the environment, we must care about people and poverty first.

  2. I appreciate your skepticism. I think it’s important to have a certain amount of suspicion about anything with such massive implications. I’m curious if you think that the sociology-technological fix can work, or if it should be used at all. For example, should countries throughout the world pose a tax for carbon emission? How much data and research constitutes enough proof to call for drastic measures? Predicting the future with 100% accuracy at this point is impossible, but perhaps just high probability is enough to constitute major action to prevent potential consequences. According to current research, waiting for change (and more research) is essentially not an option to prevent the temperature from rising to catastrophic levels. I like the aknowledgement of the legitimacy of the research and science presented just as I respect the skepticism of it, and I think now is the time to choose action to prevent the proposed consequences.

  3. I appreciate your optimism. I find it hard to agree because we have been talking about changing our behavior for over a century and little to nothing has changed. I find it hard to believe in a techno fix because the average time span for the dissemination of information around the world is at least ten years, so even if we did find a solution it might be a decade before everyone even hears about it, and then another decade for everyone to agree on it and implement it. I really do hope that you are right but honestly if the people cant get their stuff together then why would we deserve to survive as a species?

  4. It’s important to be skeptical. In fact, it could be argued a lot of our scientific discovery is based on skepticism. I am naturally skeptical, though my friends call it hard-headed. I am researching Antarctica and glaciers and an interesting part of it is scientists are having a hard time coming to a consensus on what exactly is causing melting across the ice-sheet. There are those who blow the trumpet about climate change, but others attribute part of it to a natural process of warm ocean circulation. Of course, climate change can affect ocean circulation, but there are scientists who are just not 100% sure. What does not seem in doubt is we are experiencing warming, so I am taking the approach we should do whatever is realistic in addressing it. I don’t know that we are capable of actually fixing the issue, but suspect it will be partial fixes and partial adaptation to the changes. Keep on questioning.

  5. I really enjoyed how you discussed a view point from both sides and presented a strong argument. I 100% believe in climate change and that it is currently happening, but as you mentioned, I don’t agree that we can automatically believe everything we hear. Being skeptical is very important with not just science but everything. Before you settle on an idea its important to look at both sides of the issue and go from there. I especially agreed with you when you said astronomers have been studying space for hundreds of years yet they still don’t know much about it and same with biologists. However, I do believe climate change is a major issue that should be in the front of everyones mind.

  6. I absolutely love that you interjected the reality of political agendas that undoubtedly accompany prioritization, discussion and approaches toward climate change. Similar to your stance on fully “buying” the urgency and potential over-exaggerating of global warming, I agree that it is necessary to take a step back and realize what the political agenda behind climate change may actually be. As this is usually a topic that I feel is (arbitrarily) divided between liberals and conservatives, it is definitely intriguing to realize that maybe the typical push back and lack of acceptance may be in recognition of a possible agenda from the more liberal party such as controlling the economy, regulations and the course of technological fixes in the future, and as you said, has nothing to do with level of education.

  7. I don’t usually reply to my comments, but I feel the need to with you guys so here ya go:)

    Rebecca: Hey Rebecca! I’m doing fantastic thank you for asking and thanks for the title compliment:) I really appreciate you formulating such a kind and respectful comment and for understanding where I was going with my post even if you haven’t ever really had any doubts about climate change. I’m so glad you brought up movies and entertainment because I often feel a lot of guilt about being the only one in the theater who’s squirming in my seat because of the radical agenda being pushed in the movie (sometimes subtle, sometimes not), which is often about the environment. I also think it’s an excellent point you brought up about the farmers and I think it’s important for us to realize that we often harm someone or something in trying to fix a problem that we see as radically important right this minute. Thanks again for the comment, I enjoyed reading it.

    Cassie: Hi Cassie! Thanks for respecting my skepticism, even though I know it certainly doesn’t jive with everyone’s opinion. In answer to your question, yes, I do think a socio-technological fix could work. I’m not a huge fan of excessive government involvement in the lives of the citizens but if it was subtle enough to not highly impact the individual yet still would address the climate change issue then that’s a win-win. I agree that we can’t predict the future so there has to be a certain point at which we take action based on the evidence we do have, perhaps I was a little bit blunt about the whole future thing in my post. Thank you for your further questioning of my thoughts.

    Aneasha: Hi Aneasha! I do tend to address these kinds of issues with optimism so thank you for your appreciation of that but I also apologize for the fact that optimism isn’t always 100 percent practical. Yeah the solutions might be slow so it’ll take a little figuring out of what needs to happen before we can actually get down to business and that’s certainly important to recognize. Damn, that last sentence…questioning whether we deserve to exist as a species. That is actually super interesting and surely you could view humanity’s supposed acceleration of climate change as a way of wiping ourselves out and ultimately fixing the problem. I see it that way, too but I’m pretty partial to mankind so I’d like to think we can work this out using our big Homo Sapien brains rather than self-inflicted extinction. Thanks for the thought-provoking comment!

    William: Hey William! You seem to be a proud skeptic, which is awesome. I’m not by default skeptical about everything but I do like to understand why I ought to think a certain way before I just go on blindly following somebody’s passionate and radical argument. I think it’s quite possible that partial fixes might be the only thing we’ve got and maybe that’s good enough but only time will tell. Thanks for bringing in your knowledge because I’m not all that knowledgeable on climate change but I have a basic understanding so that was certainly appreciated.

    Kilian: Hey Kilian! I’m glad you thought that I adequately covered both sides of the argument because I worry sometimes. I 100 percent understand why you think climate change is so incredibly important for us to think about. I also appreciate you recognizing that a healthy dose of skepticism can help us approach any question, not just this one or even any scientific one. I’m glad my analogies helped because I tend to think in analogies (and movies, songs and dorky references) but I’m never sure if that gets my point across. Thanks for the comment!

    Shayne: Hi Shayne! So happy to see that the political agenda aspect was of value to you and that you seem to be passionate about this matter. Passion is always a good thing. The deal is that I was raised very conservatively, so I tend to shy away from the radical left’s angry forcing of climate change down everyone’s throat. Like you said, it is important to step away from the political side for a moment in order to understand how we really feel about issues and decide what information we really believe. I certainly don’t think climate change is a hoax but it’s surrounded by a lot of really desperate and angry feelings that make me a little scared to talk about it. It isn’t fair to assume someone is uneducated or has ridiculous opinions just because of their political views and I think we need to remove the politics from the science of issues like this, although it is important to know where one stands and to have strong values and convictions. Thank you for supplementing my argument with your nice comment.

    Thanks guys! I love the chance for open discussion!

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