Friday, January 17, 2014

IPCC Acknowledges Likely Need for CDR, Al Gore Unloads

Reuters and the New York Times have both obtained a draft version of the IPCC's third and final AR5 summary report on mitigation.  According to news accounts, the draft summary recognizes the possible necessity of CDR in the future, noting that if the world breaches the 2C threshold, governments will probably need to "deploy CDR technologies to an extent that net global carbon dioxide emissions become negative" this century.

In a conference call with reports, Al Gore responded to the news by unleashing a torrent of invective at geoengineering and those who support research into it.  Here are some notable quotes:

  • Geoengineering would be "insane, utterly mad and delusional in the extreme."
  • "The fact that some scientists who should know better are actually engaged in serious discussion of those alternatives is a mark of how desperate some of them are feeling due to the paralysis in the global political system."
  • "The most discussed so-called geoengineering proposals - like putting sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere to reflect incoming sunlight - that's just insane.  Let's just describe that clearly - it is utterly mad."
  • "We are already engaged in a planet-wide experiment with consequences we can already tell are unpleasant for the future of humanity.  So the hubris involved in thinking we can come up with a second planet-wide experiment that would exactly counteract the first experiment is delusional in the extreme."
This is disappointing.  In the first place, Gore has the basic facts wrong--SRM would not "exactly counteract" global warming.  No researchers argue this, in fact they emphasize that this is not possible and trade-offs would be inevitable.  His statement that researchers "should know better" comes across as patronizing and insulting to the many excellent scientists working in this field.  And using words like "insane," "mad," and "delusional" drags the debate into the gutter.  Those searching for solutions to the climate crisis deserve better than this.

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