There is this interesting game-theoretic model of the energy transition (with international negotiation represented as the stepwise search for a 100 year Nash equilibirium): http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2480114. It would be cool to add in the geo-engineering option and see how it alters the dynamics.
These cost estimates are probably way too high. They reflect only the most obvious, not the most optimal, ways of delivering sunlight-reflecting aerosols to the stratosphere in a highly controlled way. Nathan Myhrvold, Lowell Wood, Ken Caldeira, Jordin Kare, and other inventors at Intellectual Ventures came up with a far less expensive approach nine years ago called the Stratoshield: http://www.intellectualventureslab.com/invent/introducing-the-stratoshield
Simulations by Wood and Caldeira found that a system such as this could effectively halt and reverse the dwindling of the Arctic ice cap at a capital cost probably closer to $100 million, with annual operations costs in the millions. http://www.intellectualventureslab.com/assets_lab/Stratoshield-white-paper-300dpi.pdf
This study didn’t advocate for the use of such systems, but did point out that a) it would be smart for society to develop technologically, economically, and politically acceptable contingencies plans to combat runaway warming, and b) it would be irresponsible to deploy such systems if scientists hadn’t already thoroughly studied the potential side effects and ecological ramifications, so that research should be going on now. Since 2009, much of the atmospheric and climate science community has come around to this point of view as well. What hasn’t sunk in fully is that the costs of developing and deploying geoengineering systems are small enough that they could easily be undertaken either by countries (like Bangladesh) that see global warming as an existential threat or countries (like Saudi Arabia or Russia) that see curtailment of fossil fuel use as a dire threat to their economic and political stability.
CIA director John Brennan addressed geoengineering on June 29, 2016
“Another example is the array of technologies—often referred to collectively as geoengineering—that potentially could help reverse the warming effects of global climate change. One that has gained my personal attention is stratospheric aerosol injection, or SAI, a method of seeding the stratosphere with particles that can help reflect the sun’s heat, in much the same way that volcanic eruptions do.
An SAI program could limit global temperature increases, reducing some risks associated with higher temperatures and providing the world economy additional time to transition from fossil fuels. The process is also relatively inexpensive—the National Research Council estimates that a fully deployed SAI program would cost about $10 billion yearly.
As promising as it may be, moving forward on SAI would raise a number of challenges for our government and for the international community. On the technical side, greenhouse gas emission reductions would still have to accompany SAI to address other climate change effects, such as ocean acidification, because SAI alone would not remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
On the geopolitical side, the technology’s potential to alter weather patterns and benefit certain regions at the expense of others could trigger sharp opposition by some nations. Others might seize on SAI’s benefits and back away from their commitment to carbon dioxide reductions. And, as with other breakthrough technologies, global norms and standards are lacking to guide the deployment and implementation of SAI.”
Kristan writes: “…research continues to determine the viability of geoengineering technologies.”
A natural approach…
The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet
Sustainable Land Development Initiative – http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/07/man-planted-trees-lost-groves-champion-trees-urgent-plan-save-planet/
“It’s amazing for one layman to come up with the idea of saving champion trees as a meaningful way to address the issues of biodiversity and climate change. This could be a grass roots solution to a global problem. A few million people selecting and planting the right trees for the right places could really make a difference.”
Dr. Rama Nemani, Earth Scientist
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