What's the worst that could happen?

A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate

This book focuses on avoiding climate disaster. Define four alternatives, then show why only one is rational.

Well, guess what? There are practically infinite alternatives, most are awful, but some will generate both economic and ecologic superabundance ... "none of the above" alternatives that will be found by supercharged education, exploration, experimentation, engineering, and evaluation.

We can't find the (for now) best alternatives if we focus on avoidance. There are 8 billion people, and some expect we will reach 10 billion people before 2060. The world has survived more than 100 billion people so far. The question isn't body count, it is brain count. If we focus more attention on human development, helping every living person be creative and collaborative (even the so-called less-than-average, which is half of us), we won't have time or desire to make excess babies or excess CO₂.

CO₂ and sunlight are the inputs for biological primary production (a proxy for sunlight-powered biomolecule creation) by chlorophyll-bearing "autotrophs" such as land plants and ocean plankton. The SeaWiFS sensor on the OrbView-2 satellite measured chlorophyll concentrations in the ocean, producing this map:

Most of the ocean is depicted as blue - less than 0.1 milligrams of chlorophyll per cubic meter. A very few places have chlorophyll concentrations above 10 milligrams of chlorophyll per cubic meter, depicted as orange to red. The disparity stems from nutrient concentration (which is highest where rivers bring nutrients to the sea) and lowest where viral phages destroy plankton, sending their nutrients to the sea floor.

This is why land plants (29% of the Earth's surface) fix twice as much CO₂ as ocean plants (71% of the Earth's surface)

If we can engineer virus-proof plankton, and retain nutrients at the surface, the entire ocean map can be yellow to red, global primary productivity can increase 5x, and the current CO₂ excess could be transformed into a deficit in a decade.

If we did that change blindly and badly, without thinking through the entire complex process, we might find ourselves in a new ice age, with less CO₂-efficient plants starving for CO₂.

So ... don't do it badly. Apply a vast amount of computer-amplified human intelligence to the design and to the management of "biosphere plus". Instead of letting nutrients fall to the sea floor, cycle them upwards with machinery, including "biomachinery", webs of domesticated artificial animals that cycle nutrients upwards and food energy downwards.

Instead of allowing children to die of ignorance and poverty in the world's slums, educate billions of new scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs, to manage this global process and extract newly created nutrients, materials, and energy from it. Vast numbers of new problems will emerge, but a vaster number of new problem-solvers will turn those new problems into new opportunities.

BTW, by "educating children", my main focus is on educating girls and young women. Educated women marry educated men, and educate their children -- and have fewer of them.

As Eric S. Raymond observed, "with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow." If we focus (ahem) on educating new eyes, those eyes will see opportunities that our angry, contentious, uneducated world cannot even imagine.

CravenWorst (last edited 2023-01-21 05:45:57 by KeithLofstrom)