“Fixing Climate”

Don't worry, there is a quick technological fix after all. Adopt, along with the Fixing Climate authors Robert Kunzig and Wallace S Broecker, a "realist" view (with all the dubious assumptions that term usually implies).

Whatever anyone says, the world is going to continue to pump vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere over the next few decades. In which case, the morally correct thing to do is simply to "clean up after ourselves".

This can be done — maybe — by "scrubbing" CO2 out of the air, and then locking it up in rocks. It’s a big job, but so was the large-scale adoption of sewage systems by the industrial world, and we should think of it in the same terms, as "waste management".

Only towards the end of the book – subtitled “The story of climate science – and how to stop global warming” — is the method described in any detail, and it turns out that it’s still only at the prototype stage. The rest of the book, though, is an excellent history of climate science in the 20th century, with much fine-grained explanation of ice cores, temperature graphs and disturbing evidence of abrupt climate shifts in the past.

Broecker himself is an eminent climate scientist, who coined the term "conveyor belt" for the ocean’s thermohaline circulation (of which the Gulf Stream is a part). So although his "fix" might not be the silver bullet promised, he is worth listening to as well.


Fixing Climate
Robert Kunzig and Wallace S Broecker
Profile Books, 2008

–By Steven Poole


Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited, 2008