Remember “Snowpiercer”? It was a nearly unwatchably grim movie about a climate change solution that goes horribly wrong, reducing the Earth to a frozen, deadly wasteland populated only by the passengers of a single train doomed to circle the globe forever. It became a cable series on TNT for three years because anything can become a cable series for three years now.
Well, now in an example of real life threatening to imitate bad fiction, Wake Smith, who teaches “a world-leading undergraduate course on climate intervention” and is a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School specializing in “solar geoengineering” has written a paper, published this week, that lays out his plan to have jets flying at high altitude inject microscopic sulfur dioxide particles into the atmosphere above the North and South Poles. This, see, will reflect sunlight back into space and slightly shade the surface below, retarding the warming of the poles that threaten to extinguish all life, or so the current government of the United States seems to believe. The scheme would be extremely expensive, require international cooperation, and even at best would only “buy some time” until a better and more lasting solution could be developed.
Or it might doom the world to a frozen apocalypse. As the old saying goes, “Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice.”
I have no problem with brainstorming and ideas, but the problem here is that this is the kind of half-baked, fear-stoked measure that gullible and less-than-bright politicians like, just as wild examples, Joe Biden and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are likely to get excited about. They don’t have any idea how serious the climate change problem is, how it will progress (if at all), how fast, or what to do about it. They just think we have to do “something,” and wild-hair “solutions” like this one, devised for publicity or tenure or to get speaking gigs, are like crack for their fevered minds. Throwing out an idea like this in a political climate where the United States Congress is willing to spend trillions the nation doesn’t have on theoretical, wishful or otherwise speculative answers to sloppily formulated questions is like dangling crack in front of Hunter Biden.
This is the Great Stupid, after all. Scientists have an obligation to be careful, because so many people who don’t know anything about science treat every word from their mouths like the wisdom of the prophets.
Just as an example…New Jersey decided in May that it made sense to ban all plastic shopping bags, disposable food containers, and even brown paper bags (for stores larger than a bodega) in an effort to lower the state’s carbon footprint, or something. There was no evidence that the state’s doing this would have any effect on global warming, but they had plenty of scientists ready to give their theories. Grocery-delivery services interpreted the statutory language in the disposable bag ban to mean that any disposable bags are out, so just four months into the experiment, customers are drowning in “reusable” bags. Homeless shelters and food pantries,also must comply with the ban, so food banks are begging New Jersey residents to donate their bags. But the reusable bans aren’t clean in most cases. The social engineers of the Garden State, and the wise science whizzes who advised them, somehow failed to consider this.
Banning disposable bags, you see, guarantees a glut of non-disposable bags, which require more material to make and involve more energy in their production. New Jersey’s ordinance, requires reusable bags to “have handles…made of some kind of washable fabric, and withstand 125 uses and multiple washes,” and those conditions ensure that the bags ca’t be recycled.
The “sorters at the MRF’s, material recycling facilities, are not equipped to manually or optically separate out reusable bags, and most likely the handles will cause the sorters to jam,” said JoAnn Gemenden, executive director of New Jersey Clean Communities Council. Huh! Oddly, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection “encourages recycling” of reusable bags even if they don’t have to “meet a minimum recyclable material” requirement.
Meanwhile, even though reusable bags are so resource intensive that their environmental benefits are negligible if any, New Jersey residents are stealing plastic and baskets in record numbers.
By all means, let’s trust the government to freeze the poles.
ADDED: Of course, it would have been much simpler to just reference the most recent example of a “follow the science” disaster, as the fake certitude of health experts regarding a new virus they didn’t understand gulled our state, city and national authorities into a catastrophic set of measures that will haunt the nation for years to come. But we know all about that.