Geoengineering: Like GMO on Steroids for the Environment

Pollution from a power plant using coal to generate electricity

It’s a new year, and everyone is talking about how it’s going to be better than the last year.  They’re making their New Year “resolutions,” which they plan to start right after the hangovers stop and are not likely to be kept; like losing weight, quitting smoking, getting more exercise, or saving money.  However, year after year, mankind has not made the resolutions that count, because it has not learned from the mistakes of the past.  Year after year, we make ourselves comfortable, but take our environment for granted, and in the process, destroy 16 million hectares of valuable forests every year, and waste tons of fresh water while 5,000 children die every day from drinking dirty water.  We unload 180 million tons of toxic chemicals into our rivers and oceans every year, and even poison the very food we eat and contaminate the groundwater we drink with pesticides so industrial agriculture can increase its yields, and toxic chemicals, so that the fossil fuel industry can produce more oil and gas and spout more carbon into the atmosphere, the dwindling forests, and our precious ocean, that we use as a huge toilet.

Yet we still rely on the irreplaceable ecosystems that we abuse and destroy to recycle the hundreds of millions of tons of trash we throw into them every year, to provide oxygen for the atmosphere, to filter water, for flood control, and for producing food and fuel.   Our activities in this Garden of Eden that provides so many free services for us are causing the extinction of species at up to 10,000 times the historical rate, toward a mass extinction, the likes of which the earth has not seen for 65 million years.  But in the last few days of 2014, our governments have finally allowed us to admit that our excessive carbon emissions, which are primarily caused by our dependence upon fossil fuels for energy, and exacerbated by deforestation for agriculture (which ironically also contributes to excessive carbon emissions,) are changing the climate of the earth.  Now that it is almost too late, we must act before our beach vacation destinations (not to mention New York and Miami) are underwater, and we have to cope with mega-droughts, unheard of floods, and super hurricanes and tornadoes, just to mention a few of the side effects of our irresponsible behavior.

You may think that we have finally learned from this experience, where we have done almost everything wrong, and developed dirty, obsolete fossil fuel mining and exploitation technology that has quickened our path to destruction.  You may think, as I do, since solar and wind power technology has improved and is cheaper than ever before, that weaning us off our dependence on fossil fuels as soon as possible is the most logical and reasonable way to deal with this crisis.  However, the same way that we have played God with our food, creating genetic modifications that could have never occurred in nature, the long-term consequences of which we have no clue, there is another option being developed for dealing with climate change that is even more frightening than the genetic engineering of food.

It’s called Geoengineering, or Climate Engineering, and, according to Dr. Matthew Watson from Bristol University, the potential effects of the technologies, which Dr. Watson (his real name, no relation to Sherlock Holmes) is helping to develop, are terrifying. Dr. Watson’s “solar radiation management” project, which mimics the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions by spraying sulfur particles into the atmosphere to block sunlight, may have a cooling effect by reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth, but it also causes irreversible damage to the planet’s ecosystems, starving plant life and reducing food supply.  But don’t worry, you’ll still be able to get your St. Tropez tan, because the sulfur particles are likely to destroy the ozone layer, which protects us and all the little animals from deadly ultraviolet radiation.  Other technologies focus on carbon dioxide “removal,” which include iron “fertilization” of the oceans, something that has been approved for small scale trials, which would increase the toxicity of the oceans and destroy ocean life.

Although these “experiments,” such as cloud brightening or artificial volcanoes, are mostly taking place with computer modeling, there are a growing number of conspiracy theorists who say that geo-engineering is already occurring and on a grand scale.  (Holy chemtrails, Batman!)  It is not likely that they are not right, but if they are, it won’t be the first time that unnatural agents were introduced into our environment and we weren’t told about it, like almost everything you eat, for example, if you happen to live in the United States.

The bottom line is that, instead of trying to manipulate our environment to get us out of this mess, which is how we got into the mess in the first place, we should find a way to live in harmony with it.  With the availability of cheap solar and wind power, this is actually possible.  Whether the economies of the industrialized nations and the industry that controls them and the governments that are supposed to regulate them will allow this to happen is the big question.

Kenneth Eade is a best-selling author and international lawyer based in Los Angeles, California


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