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Laika

Views on Climate Engineering Technologies

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One of the responses to Climate Change that has had increasing attention is the idea of "engineering" the climate. this is still peripheral to discussions of climate change but may become more important as time goes on as a "techno-fix" if we fail to reduce emissions quickly enough to avert catastrophic climate change. It could be argued that by emitting greenhouse gases we are already engaged in an uncontrolled experiment with the Climate, and that climate engineering is simply trying to take control of something we are already doing. Broadly, Climate Engineering technologies divide into two types; solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere.  it raises a lot of questions about the impacts of using the technology, how its use is governed internationally, the level of uncertainty in manipulating the earth's thermostat, if climate engineering creates a moral hazard so that we won't actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions as fast as we could and whether this is an emergency measure or is in fact the realisation of an ideal of man's mastery over nature. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_engineering

I'm was wondering what people's thoughts are on Climate Engineering and if there are any strong opinions favouring or opposing it? 

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I think your premise is wrong: it hasn't been proven that continuing to burn fossil fuels will cause catastrophic climate change. The only proven fact is that it will cause mild warming, that is in no way catastrophic, and will be harmful to some but beneficial to others (the net effect depends on how people who are affected adapt to the changes).

The people predicting catastrophes can't even agree on a single narrative on how and why these catastrophes will occur, let alone prove it.

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As far as the politics, it doesn't really matter how catastrophic climate change is, forced policies would not be justified. Not that it should or needs to be ignored for the sake of rights, but that respecting rights enables the best possibilities to combat any issue.

I am not on the "catastrophic" global climate change side, but I do think it's an issue worth addressing. It's good to be able to manipulate the climate in a controlled way, so I say the answer is more of that. There is no moral duty to "our future kids" or an obligation to the Earth, though. The reason I support climate engineering is the same reason I support GMOs or autonomous cars. Whatever issues there are in the world at all, new technology and creative thought does wonders - and improves life in the now.

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On 6/25/2017 at 11:02 PM, Eiuol said:

There is no moral duty to "our future kids" or an obligation to the Earth, though. 

I haven't heard someone make that argument before. Do you think that thinking in terms of an obligation to "future generations" or to the "earth" is more about asserting common property? [i.e. humanity owns the earth collectively including future generations/ the earth is a single ecological system and can only be common property, etc]

I'd just welcome some more on that point as I'm not familiar with that point of view. :)

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Posted (edited)

On 6/27/2017 at 2:50 PM, Laika said:

Do you think that thinking in terms of an obligation to "future generations" or to the "earth" is more about asserting common property? [i.e. humanity owns the earth collectively including future generations/ the earth is a single ecological system and can only be common property, etc]. :)

I'm not who you were addressing but I want to comment anyway. There's no such thing as "common property" and humanity or some collective doesn't "own" the earth. 

All property should be privately owned. We should only exploit the earth to better our own lives not the lives of future generations, etc. Also the earth has no intrinsic value, it only has value to the humans who exploit it. Animals, fungi, whatever, cannot value but man can. It's human individuals first, not plants, animals, the whole planet, etc.

The earth's climate continually changes over time; it is not static. There has been Snowball Earths, there has been time where the earth was much warmer than the present. It shifts as a function of time for many reason. It always has and always will.

Even *if* humans were causing the earth to warm (which is far away from scientifically verified despite what the leftist media continually says otherwise) ... who cares? Why can volcanoes and cows spew huge amounts of greenhouse gasses but man can't? The case would be something like, "Well, those are "natural" emissions." But why do they not consider man to be "natural"? Why is it the the environmental socialist sheep consider man to be unnatural and not allowed to disturb the environment, but if the same thing and/or usually worst things happen over time "naturally" then that's okay. 

These people that spew that man is not allowed to disturb or change the environment are anti-man and anti-life. And the goal of almost all environmentalists is to expand governments and to control industries etc.

Edited by EC
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3 hours ago, EC said:

I'm not who you were addressing but I want to comment anyway. There's no such thing as "common property" and humanity or some collective doesn't "own" the earth. 

All property should be privately owned. We should only exploit the earth to better our own lives not the lives of future generations, etc. Also the earth has no intrinsic value, it only has value to the humans who exploit it. Animals, fungi, whatever, cannot value but man can. It's human individuals first, not plants, animals, the whole planet, etc.

The earth's climate continually changes over time; it is not static. There has been Snowball Earths, there has been time where the earth was much warmer than the present. It shifts as a function of time for many reason. It always has and always will.

Even *if* humans were causing the earth to warm (which is far away from scientifically verified despite what the leftist media continually says otherwise) ... who cares? Why can volcanoes and cows spew huge amounts of greenhouse gasses but man can't? The case would be something like, "Well, those are "natural" emissions." But why do they not consider man to be "natural"? Why is it the the environmental socialist sheep consider man to be unnatural and not allowed to disturb the environment, but if the same thing and/or usually worst things happen over time "naturally" then that's okay. 

These people that spew that man is not allowed to disturb or change the environment are anti-man and anti-life. And the goal of almost all environmentalists is to expand governments and to control industries etc.

thanks for your reply. Its certainly interesting to hear the argument framed in those terms and I agree that ideology does play a role in how Climate Change has been turned into a doomsday prophesy. Have you read Robert Zubrin's "The Merchants of Despair" as describing environmental restriction as anti-man and anti-life sounds very like what he wrote?

It is a legitimate question as to why man's emissions are considered "unnatural" against "natural" emissions from cows and volcanoes. At a guess, it betrays a sense that man's emissions are under our conscious and collective control and therefore they are a "choice" that we can be held responsible for. However, in the competitive marketplace in which decision-making is decentralised, only individuals and companies can decide what their emissions are in isolation. So framing the argument in that way is a justification for state intervention.

Of course, if state intervention were acceptable or effective as a remedy, the reality is that there is only a degree of control over emissions and so there is no way to cut emissions overnight without drastic effects on the economy by attacking its current technological base built on fossil fuels. So much of the leftist medias rhetoric is a load of hot air (if you'll forgive the pun). 

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Just to be clear, Objectivism isn't an advocate of the view that the government has no right to prevent PROVEN harmful emissions. Capitalism isn't really accurately described as a "competitive marketplace in which decision making is decentralized". There's a lot more to it.

In Capitalism (at least the Objectivist version), the government is tasked with the protection of rights and the resolution of conflicts. So, to the extent that certain emissions can be proven to violate someone's rights (can be proven to be harmful), the victims would have legal recourse, in a laissez-faire capitalist society.

In an extreme case, where the emissions are proven to cause irreparable damage to humans, government action to stop such emissions would also be justified.

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On 6/27/2017 at 2:50 PM, Laika said:

Do you think that thinking in terms of an obligation to "future generations" or to the "earth" is more about asserting common property? [i.e. humanity owns the earth collectively including future generations/ the earth is a single ecological system and can only be common property, etc]

EC answered this pretty well.

I'll add that altruism seems to underlie the motivations of most environmentalists and even people in general about the earth. It's more the idea that we "owe" the planet and the unborn future generation to keep the earth healthy. It further adds in that "unnaturally" modifying the earth for human benefit is wrong and that we all share the same planet.

"The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels" is a good read for more on all of this.

http://www.moralcaseforfossilfuels.com/

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2 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

EC answered this pretty well.

I'll add that altruism seems to underlie the motivations of most environmentalists and even people in general about the earth. It's more the idea that we "owe" the planet and the unborn future generation to keep the earth healthy. It further adds in that "unnaturally" modifying the earth for human benefit is wrong and that we all share the same planet.

"The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels" is a good read for more on all of this.

http://www.moralcaseforfossilfuels.com/

I imagine that, up to a point, the moral case for fossil fuels is ultimately the moral case for economic growth as a method of improving people's lives. It may perhaps be able to reconcile that with environmentalism by "humanising" it rather than treating human beings as "the enemy" of the planet. the central problem is the use of guilt and fear by the environmental movement to force people to fit into a crippling altruistic ideal of "sustainability". What that means in practice, I'm not sure. But there definitely need to be a humanisation of the environmental movement if they seriously want to achieve change. they can't advocate changes that go contary to fundamentally human interests in development. Rather they need to make climate change a human issue about socio-economic improvement not an environmental one opposed to material interests.

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9 hours ago, Laika said:

...  there definitely need to be a humanisation of the environmental movement if they seriously want to achieve change.

I doubt the core wants to achieve change in the sense of more value for humans. If someone figures out a technology to rollback global warming, they will either attack the technology or find some other change they can spin into a reason to hold back human happiness.

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