Dr. David Keith Presenting at Nobel Conference 55


SPEAKER TO US. [ APPLAUSE ]
>>DOESN’T LISA DO A GREAT JOB? I THINK SHE’S WONDERFUL. [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]
IT IS MY PLEASURE THIS AFTERNOON TO INTRODUCE DR. DAVID KEITH,
PROFESSOR OF APPLIED PHYSICS AT THE HARVARD A SCHOOL OF
ENGINEERING AND APPLIED SCIENCES, AND PROFESSOR OF
PUBLIC POLICY AT THE HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL.
HE IS ALSO CO-FOUNDER, OR THE FOUNDER OF CARBON ENGINEERING, A
COMPANY DEVELOPING TECHNOLOGY TO CAPTURE CO2 FROM AMBIENT AIR TO
MAKE CARBON-NEUTRAL HYDROCARBON FUELS.
DR. KEITH EARNED HIS PhD IN EXPERIMENTAL PHYSICS FROM MIT,
BUT CHOSE A DIFFERENT TRAJECTORY FOR HIS CAREER, MOVING INTO
GEO-ENGINEERING AS A POST-DOC FELLOW IN CARNEGIE MELONS
DEPARTMENT OF EGG NEARING AND PUBLIC — ENGINEERING AND PUBLIC
POLICY. HE HAS BEEN A PROFESSOR AT
HARVARD AND UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY.
IN 2009 HE FOUNDED CARBON ENGINEERING, A CANADIAN BASED
CLEAN ENERGY COMPANY LEADING THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF DIRECT AIR
CAPTURE TECHNOLOGY THAT CAPTURES CARBON DIOXIDE DIRECTLY FROM THE
ATMOSPHERE. BASED IN CAMBRIDGE, PROFESSOR
KEITH SPEND ABOUT A THIRD OF HIS TIME IN KENMORE, ALBERTA.
PROFESSOR KEITH HAS A LONG LIST OF ACCOLADES AND PRIZES,
INCLUDING THE DIAMOND JUBILEE MEDAL AWARDED BY QUEEN ELIZABETH
II IN 2013. HE WAS NAMED ONE OF “TIME”
MAGAZINE’S HEROES OF THE ENVIRONMENT, AND WAS NAMED
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST OF THE YEAR BY THE CANADIAN
GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. DR. KEITH SERVES ON A NUMBER OF
ORGANIZATIONS AND BOARDS THAT STUDY ENERGY AND THE
ENVIRONMENT, PARTICULARLY CARBON SEQUESTRATION AND
GEO-ENGINEERING. LEAD AUTHOR OF THE IPCC SPECIAL
REPORT AND SHARED THE IPCC — CHAIRED ON LEGAL AND PUBLIC
PERCEPTION ON CARBON STORAGE. IN HIS BOOK “A CASE FOR CLIMATE
ENGINEERING” PROFESSOR KEITH ARGUES THAT AFTER DECADES DURING
WHICH VERY LITTLE PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE IN REDUCING CARBON
EMISSIONS, WE MUST PUT CLIMATE ENGINEERING ON THE TABLE AND
CONSIDER IT RESPONSIBLY. PLEASE HELP ME WELCOME PROFESSOR
KEITH TO ADDRESS HOW MIGHT SOLAR ENGINEERING FIT INTO A SOUND
CLIMATE POLICY. PROFESSOR KEITH. [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]
>>THANK YOU. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
IT’S REALLY A THRILL TO BE HERE. THANK YOU TO THE ORGANIZERS, AND
APOLOGIZE, I STARTED TO TEACH A FRESHMAN SEMINAR AT HARVARD, I
JUST LOVE IT. IT IS THE MOST THRILLING THING I
HAVE DONE IN A LONG TIME. IT ONLY MEETS ONE A WEEK.
ONCE IT ENDED UP BEING TUESDAY MORNING I FELT LIKE I COULDN’T
MISS IT. THIS HAS BEEN A REALLY NAN
FANTASTIC TO BE PART OF THIS. SO THE BIG QUESTION I’M SUPPOSED
TO TACKLE IS HOW DOES SOLAR ENGINEERING FIT INTO SENSIBLE
CLIMATE POLICY. THE ANSWER IS, OF COURSE, THAT I
DON’T KNOW. [ LAUGHTER ]
AND THE ANSWER IS ALSO FOR SURE THAT IT DEPENDS AT LEAST AS MUCH
ON ALL THE OTHER ELEMENTS OF CLIMATE POLICY AND THE POLITICS
THAT SHAPE THEM, AS IT DOES ON ANYTHING SPECIFIC ABOUT SOLAR
ENGINEERING. SO I WANT TO TALK BY WARNING YOU
WHILE I WILL TALK ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING FOR SURE, I
AM GOING TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT POLITICS FIRST, AND THEN
TRY AND COVER ENGINEERING AND CARBON REMOVAL, AND END UP AGAIN
TALKING ABOUT THE POLITICS. IT’S WORTH MAYBE THINKING ABOUT
THE STRUCTURE OF THE DIFFERENT THINGS, DIFFERENT LEVERS, IF YOU
LIKE, THAT HUMANS CAN PULL, AND, AGAIN, THAT ALREADY HAS AN IMAGE
OF LIKE HUMANS PULLING ONE LEVER, WHEREAS IN FACT THERE’S
BILLIONS OF HUMANS, AND OTHER HUMANS WILL BE AFFECTED WHO
AREN’T BORN YET, AND THINGS THAT AREN’T HUMANS WHO WILL BE
AFFECTED, AND IN MY VIEW HAVE SOME KIND OF RIGHTS, AND WE
SHOULD CARE ABOUT THEM. BUT IF YOU THINK OF THE SORT OF
VERY HIGHEST COLLECTIVE OUTCOMES OF THE WAY WE CHANGE THE
PHYSICAL SYSTEM, I THINK YOU CAN THINK ABOUT IT AS FIRST OF ALL,
WHAT WE DO TO DECARBONIZE THE ENERGY SYSTEM, FIND WAYS TO
PRODUCE THE ENERGY THAT WE NEED WITH NO CARBON EMISSIONS.
THERE’S BEEN NO KIND OF — NONE OF THE TALKS THAT YOU’VE HEARD,
OR WILL HEAR, CENTRALLY FOCUSES ON THAT.
I WOULD BE REALLY HAPPY TO ANSWER MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT IT.
BECAUSE, TO BE CLEAR, THE CENTRAL ACTUAL POLITICAL FIGHT
WE ARE GOING TO BE HAVING OVER THE NEXT DECADES, I MEAN, IT’S
EXACTLY WHAT WE DO, WHAT ARE THE RULES, HOW MUCH SOLAR, VERSUS
HOW MUCH NUCLEAR, VERSUS HOW DO WE DO LONG DISTANCE
TRANSMISSION, HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT BATTERIES, HOW DO YOU
DECARBONIZE THIS, VERSUS THAT. ALL THAT IS THE MEAT OF THE
ISSUE. HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT,
THAT TOTAL COST. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO OTHER
COSTS WE’VE PAID BEFORE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION.
THOSE TO ME ARE THE CORE OF THE WAY AT LEAST I THINK ABOUT THE
ISSUE. THEN ONCE WE GET EMISSIONS TO
ZERO, WHICH I THINK IS ABSOLUTELY DOABLE, BUT IT’S NOT
ANYTHING THAT IS JUST A MATTER OF POLITICAL WILL OR CAN BE DONE
EASILY, OR SIMPLY CAN BE DONE IF WE JUST MAGICALLY REMOVE
CORRUPTION, WHICH WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO ANYWAY, BUT IT IS
SOMETHING THAT IS INHERENTLY HARD AND SLOW TO DO, BUT VERY DOABLE.
THEN IT IS ALSO CERTAINLY POSSIBLE TO REMOVE CARBON
DIOXIDE FROM THE AIR. I WILL TALK A LITTLE ABOUT THAT.
BUT EVEN THOUGH I’M ACTUALLY THRILLED TO BE INVOLVED IN
FOUNDING A COMPANY THAT’S INVOLVED IN THAT SPACE, I’LL SAY
AS A PREVIEW THAT I THINK THERE IS IMMENSE AMOUNT OF OVERHYPE
AROUND CARBON REMOVAL RIGHT NOW. I WILL GIVE YOU A SENSE OF WHY I
THINK THAT’S TRUE. THEN THERE’S THIS POSSIBILITY OF
SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING, OF DELIBERATELY ALTERING THE
EARTH’S REFLECTIVITY IN SOME WAY IT REDUCE SOME OF THE RISKS OF
ACCUMULATED GREENHOUSE GASES. FINALLY, THERE’S ADAPTATION.
THERE’S LOCAL, DELIBERATE MEASURES WE TAKE TO REDUCE THE
IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON HUMANS OR THE NATURAL
ENVIRONMENT. AND THOSE THINGS TOGETHER ARE A
RANGE OF THINGS THAT WE MIGHT DO.
THE PROBLEM DOESN’T GET SOLVED BY ANY ONE OF THEM, BUT THE ONE
I THINK YOU CANNOT DO WITHOUT IS EMISSIONS CUTS.
AND I HOPE WE SPEND — WE WILL INEVITABLY SPEND SOME OF THE
NEXT SESSION DEBATING SOLAR ENGINEERING.
>>THAT’S GREAT. I HOPE WE SPEND A BUNCH OF TIME
TALK ABOUT HOW WE DECARBONIZE. THAT’S THE CENTRAL CHOICE AND
ACTION OF THIS GENERATION, I THINK.
YOU MIGHT ASK WHAT THIS PICTURE IS BEHIND ME.
I DECIDED JUST TO AVOID OBVIOUS COVER SLIDES AND ALSO TO
ILLUSTRATE HOW PERSONAL THIS IS FOR ME AND FOR EVERYBODY IN
DIFFERENT WAYS. FOR ME, AND BY THE WAY, AS FAR
AS ORGANIZING THIS, THE SPEAKER TIMER HAS NOT STARTED SO I STILL
HAVE 45 MINUTES. [ LAUGHTER ]
IT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO HAVE A SPEAKER TIMER THAT WAS WORKING.
AH. NOW IT’S GOING.
[ LAUGHTER ] SO THIS HAPPENS TO BE — SO I’VE
PULLED SOME PICTURES FROM PLACES THAT I HAVE TRAVELED THAT HAVE A
BIG IMPACT ON THE WAY I THINK ABOUT THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
AND ABOUT CLIMATE. SO I’VE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO DO
A BUNCH OF TRIPS IN THE HIGH ARCTIC.
I HAD A NEIGHBOR GROWING UP WHO TRAVELED IN THE FOX BASIN IN THE
1930S, AND NEW LOTS OF INUIT PEOPLE WHERE I HAVE ALSO
TRAVELED. THEN I HAVE DONE LONG, ME AND A
COUPLE FRIENDS PULLING SLEDGES SKI TRIPS.
THIS WAS THE MIDDLE OF A THREE-WEEK SKI TRIP I DID 8 OR
10 YEARS AGO. THE PICTURES ARE JUST
BACKGROUNDS. ACTUALLY WANTED TO START BY
HELPING US THINK ABOUT THE CONTEXT OF WHY THE CLIMATE POLE
IS SO HARD BY URGING YOU TO THINK ABOUT WE’VE MADE GREAT
PROGRESS, AND I MENTIONED EARLIER TODAY, ON A BUNCH OF
OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL TOPICS, AND WE DID IT FAST.
I WANT TO JUST ILLUSTRATE FOR YOU REALLY QUICKLY HOW FAST WE
DID IT, AND THEN HOPEFULLY YOU WILL START PUZZLING ABOUT WHY
CLIMATE HAS BEEN DIFFERENT. I’VE GOT THREE EXAMPLES, I WILL
NOT GO THROUGH THE TEXT IN DETAIL.
JUST WANT TO THROW THEM UP AT YOU.
SO I THINK PHOTO CHEMICAL SMOG IS THE MOST AMAZING.
THIS IS THE OZONE IN THE LOWER AIR THAT COMES FROM POLLUTANTS
THAT CAUSES OUR LUNGS TO BE DAMAGED, CAUSES THE PLASTICS IN
OUR CARS TO BE DAMAGED. IT IS A TOTAL CHEMICAL SURPRISE.
LIKE THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN IN THE TEXTBOOK.
YOU ADD SOME HYDROCARBONS TO OXIDENTS AND YOU
WIND UP WITH MORE, WHICH IS NOT WHAT HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY SAYS
WILL HAPPEN. THE GAP BETWEEN THE FIRST THEORY THEORY, AND THE RULES HARD LAW,
NOT LIKE A RECOMMENDATION, NOT HAPPY, GREEN COMPANIES WORKING
TOGETHER, A RULE, THE POLICY OF CRANK CASE VENTILATOR, IS LIKE
LESS THAN A DECADE. IT’S REALLY STUNNING.
AND AFTER THAT THINGS MOVE REALLY FAST.
YOU GET THE CORE CALIFORNIA AUTHORITY, WHICH OF COURSE THE
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS NOW CHALLENGING TO REGULATE
INDEPENDENTLY, AND IN MANY RESPECTS, I THINK IT IS FAIR IT
SAY, CALIFORNIA’S REGULATION ON THE AUTOMOBILE ENDED UP LEADING
THE WORLD’S REGULATION. AUTOMOBILE ALMOST STEP BY STEP.
IT IS A STUNNING STORY, AND VERY FAST, BETWEEN SCIENCE AND POLICY
ACTION. SECOND ONE TO BRING UP, DET.
SOMEWHAT OF A SURPRISE. IT WAS A SAFE CHEMICAL IN SOME
WAYS. IT HAD LOW TOXICITY IN WAYS THAT
WE WANTED, BUT IT THIS WAY IT ACCUMULATED IN FOOD CHAINS.
NOT DDT ITSELF, BUT BREAKDOWN PRODUCTS LIKE DDE.
AND, AGAIN, THE GAP BETWEEN THE SCIENCE THAT REALLY BEGAN TO
UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON AND REGULATION WAS SMALL, AND IN
THIS CASE, THIS WAS PERSONAL. MY FATHER WAS ONE OF THE
SCIENTISTS IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS, AS A KID I WAS INVOLVED IN
COLLECTING EGGSHELLS AND PEREGRINE FALCON REPRODUCTION
AND SO ON. AND THE PACE WAS AMAZINGLY
QUICK. MY DAD WAS HIRED INTO
ENVIRONMENT CANADA AS AN EARLY SCIENTIST, AND IT WAS JUST A
COUPLE YEARS BEFORE HE TALKED HIS WAY, REALLY, TO NEAR THE TOP
OF THE GOVERNMENT, TO GET THEM TO JUST BEGIN WHAT BECAME A
COMPLETE BAN ON AGRICULTURAL USE OF THESE CHEMICALS.
IT WAS EXTRAORDINARY. STRATOSPHERIC OZONE, A GLOBAL
POLLUTANT, IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE WHERE YOU RELEASE
THE FLOOR CARBONS. ONCE WE ESTABLISH THE
UNDERSTANDING. THERE IS LOTS OF STRUCTURE OF
THIS AGREEMENT LIKE WHAT WE THOUGHT MIGHT HAPPEN FOR
CLIMATE, IN THE SENSE THIS THING, YOU SEE IN ’85, VIENNA
CONVENTION WAS LIKE THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION WAS MEANT
TO BE, THEN KYOTO WAS MEANT TO BE ANALOG TO MONTREAL, EXCEPT IT
DIDN’T COME OUT THAT WAY. I THINK IT IS WORTH TRYING TO
UNDERSTAND WHY NOT. BECAUSE IN THINKING ABOUT WHY WE
HAVE MADE SO LITTLE PROGRESS ON CLIMATE, THIS ONE IS FROM 1953,
AND IT REPORTS, KIND OF AMAZING RESEARCH FROM THE AIR FORCE
GEOPHYSICAL LAB, WITH THIS GUY WHO WAS ABLE TO MAKE ACCURATE
CALCULATIONS FOR REALLY THE FIRST TIME WITH, OF THE RADIO
TRANSFER IN THE ATMOSPHERE, ONE OF THE THINGS YOU NEED TO MAKE
QUANTITATIVE ESTIMATES OF HOW MUCH IT WILL WARM.
THAT’S A LONG TIME AGO. AND AT SOME LEVEL THE ACTIONS WE
ARE TAKING NOW ARE STILL, THEY ARE BEYOND SYMBOLIC, AS I WILL
SHOW YOU IN A MINUTE, BUT THEY ARE FAR SHORT OF THE ACTIONS WE
REALLY NEED TO DEAL WITH THIS PROBLEM.
I THINK IT IS WORTH REALLY TAKING A LITTLE BIT OF TIME TO
THINK ABOUT WHAT’S DIFFERENT. AND THE OBVIOUS ANSWER FOR WHY
IT’S BEEN SO HARD TO MAKE PROGRESS ON CLIMATE IS THAT
THERE’S MONEY IN POLITICS, MONEY FROM PEOPLE WHO WILL LOSE
UNDERREGULATION, MONEY FROM BIG FOSSIL THAT’S BLOCKED ACTION.
THAT IS CERTAINLY TRUE. I’VE BEEN UP TO IT, IN FRONT OF
THAT FACE-TO-FACE. BUT THAT IS NOT A SUFFICIENT
EXPLANATION, BECAUSE THAT WAS TRUE FOR ALL THE OTHER CASES IN
DIFFERENT WAYS. AND I THINK IT IS WORTH THINKING
HARD ABOUT WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS CASE.
PARTLY IT’S THAT THE BENEFITS ARE FAR IN THE FUTURE, BUT THAT
WAS MOSTLY TRUE OF OZONE. PARTLY IT IS THE GLOBAL NATURE.
IT’S SOME COMBINATION OF THOSE THINGS.
ALSO MAY BE CHANGING POLITICAL WORLD.
IT’S PARTLY THE COST OF THE EMISSIONS CUTS ARE FUNDAMENTALLY
HIGHER. HARD TO KNOW.
AND WORTH DISCUSSING IN QUESTIONS.
I WANT TO SAY A LITTLE MORE ABOUT WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW FOR
CLIMATE. I’VE TOLD YOU SOME STUFF THAT
SOUNDS BAD. I WILL TELL YOU GOOD NEWS.
AND IT’S KIND OF REFRESHING, BECAUSE THE CASE WHERE I WAS
REALLY WRONG. I WAS QUITE SKEPTICAL ABOUT HOW
CHEAP SOLAR ENERGY WOULD BE. I PUBLISHED SOME PAPERS TEN
YEARS AGO ESTIMATING THAT IT WOULD TAKE DECADES TO GET SOLAR
POWER DOWN TO 30 CENTS A WATT MODULE COST.
NOW IT’S HERE NOW. THIS IS JUST AN EXAMPLE, ONE OF
THE BIGGEST SOLAR PLANTS IN THE WORLD.
IT’S OVER TWO GIG A WATTS. I FIND THAT JUST STUNNING.
I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN ENERGY AND CLIMATE FOR A LONG TIME.
AND THE SUDDEN DECREASE IN THE COST OF LARGE-SCALE SOLAR POWER
IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT WE’VE SEEN THE WHOLE
TIME I’VE WORKED HERE. AND I THINK IT DOESN’T MAGICALLY
DECARBONIZE THE WORLD. THERE ARE ALL SORTS OF REASONS
WHY IT IS HARD TO GO FROM THERE TO DEEP DECARBONIZATION, BUT IT
IS ESSENTIAL TO DEEP DECARBONIZATION, AND IT WAS
UNEXPECTED, AND IT IS FANTASTIC. SO SINGLE PIECE OF REALLY GOOD
NEWS, IT’S THAT. IT’S THE EXTRAORDINARILY LOW
COST AND HIGH CAPACITY FACTORS OF BIG, MODERN INDUSTRIAL SOLAR.
IT IS JUST EXCITING. LET ME TELL YOU ONE LAST ONE
THAT’S SLIGHTLY MORE DEPRESSING, I THINK.
SO THIS IS, I THINK, ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT GRAPHS THAT WE
SHOULD SHOW IN CLIMATE, BUT OFTEN DON’T ENOUGH.
THE FLOW OF MONEY. HIGH EMITTING CAPITAL STOCK WITH
LOW EMITTING CAPITAL STOCK. THAT REQUIRES A FLOW OF MONEY.
OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE TO POLITICALLY ARGUE WHO IS PAYING
THE MONEY, WHO IS MAKING THE DECISIONS.
THE KNOW OF MONEY INTO CAPITAL STOCK THAT ACTUALLY DECARBONIZES
THE ENERGY SYSTEM. AND THIS IS BOOM BERG NEW ENERGY
FINANCES ESTIMATE OF NEW MONEY FLOWS.
YOU SEE FROM 2005 TO 2009, IT GREW, THIS IS BILLIONS A
QUARTER, BUT IN BILLIONS, ABOUT 300 BILLION A YEAR, WHICH IS
GETTING TO BE INTERESTING. BUT IT IS ABOUT THREE OR FOUR
TIMES LOWER THAN IT WOULD NEED TO BE GLOBALLY, IF YOU WERE
REALLY GOING TO BE DRIVING EMISSIONS DOWN FAST.
AND I THINK THE REALLY SAD THING, IT’S PLATEAUED.
IT’S BOUNCING UP AND DOWN, BUT BASICALLY SINCE THE LAST DECADE
IT’S BEEN KIND OF STUCK AT ABOUT 300 BILLION A YEAR.
THAT’S A LOT MORE THAN NOTHING. SO I USED TO SAY WE WERE JUST
TAKING SYMBOLIC ACTIONS ON CLIMATE.
THAT’S IN THE TRUE ANYMORE. WE ARE DOING REAL WORK, THERE
REALLY IS A GROWTH OF WIND AND SOLAR THAT IS NOT TRIVIAL, BUT
IT IS FAR SHORT OF WHAT WE NEED TO DRIVE EMISSIONS DOWN STEEPLY.
AND THE GAP BETWEEN THE KIND OF AMBITION OF IPCC AND THE REALITY
ON THE GROUND IS HUGE. SO LET ME NOW START, I WILL COME
BACK TO THIS GRAPH IN DIFFERENT WAYS, SEVERAL TIMES DURING THIS
TALK. LET ME GIVE YOU A SENSE OF HOW
THE DIFFERENT INSTRUMENTS I TALKED ABOUT, LEAVING ASIDE
ADAPTATION, BECAUSE IT DOESN’T FIT IN THIS STRUCTURE, HOW THEY
FIT TOGETHER OVER TIME. SO FIRST OF ALL, THESE ARE
DELIBERATELY DONE WITHOUT NUMBERS, BECAUSE I WANT TO GET
YOU TO THINK JUST ABOUT THE INTERRELATIONSHIPS OF THINGS.
FIRST OF ALL, IF WE JUST EMITTED FOSSIL FUELS FOREVER, THE
CLIMATE PROBLEM JUST KEEPS GETTING WORSE AND WORSE, AND
THAT’S BECAUSE, AS I’M SURE YOU HAVE ALREADY HEARD, CLIMATE RISK
IS PROPORTIONAL TO CUMULATIVE EMISSIONS, THE TOTAL AMOUNT WE
HAVE EMITTED UNTIL NOW. THE FACT IT’S LINEARLY
PROPORTIONAL IF YOU THINK OF CLIMATE RISKS OVER THE NEXT
CENTURY. THE CONSEQUENCE IS WHEN WE BRING
EMISSIONS TO ZERO, WHICH WE WILL DO AND WE’LL HAVE GLOBAL
CELEBRATIONS ON THE DAY WE DO IT, AND I THINK IT’S REASONABLE
TO THINK ABOUT DOING THAT SOON AFTER 2050.
BUT WHEN WE DO THAT, WHAT WE DO IS WE BASICALLY STOP THE PROBLEM
GETTING WORSE. WE DON’T MAKE IT BETTER; WE STOP
IT GETTING WORSE. AND I THINK THAT’S IMPORTANT.
IT’S IMPORTANT IN LARGER POLITICS, AND IMPORTANT THE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOME OTHER PROBLEMS THAT I TALKED ABOUT.
SO IF YOU THINK ABOUT AIR POLLUTION, WHICH RIGHT NOW, YOU
COULD ARGUE IS STILL A MORE PRESSING DIRECT HUMAN
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCE THAN CLIMATE CHANGE IN TOTAL, WE KILL
SEVERAL MILLION PEOPLE A YEAR GLOBALLY FROM FINE PRODUCT AIR
POLLUTION. THAT PARTICULAR — PARTICULATE
LASTS ABOUT A WEEK, WHEREAS THE CLIMATE IMPACT OF CO2 ON
POLITICAL TERMS, THINK OF IT BEING FOREVER.
IT IS ACTUALLY QUITE A FEW DIFFERENT TIME SCALES, SO YOU
CAN’T CHOOSE ONE EXPONENTIAL TIME SCALE, BUT ON A SCALE OF
100 YEARS, YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT IT AS A ONE WAY RACHET.
PUT CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE, PROPORTION ATLY THE CLIMATE
RISKS AND GLOBAL TEMPERATURES GO UP.
THAT’S A REALLY CRUCIAL FACT TO KNOW.
SO AS MUCH AS PEOPLE KEEP TALKING ABOUT THE IDEA THAT WHEN
WE’VE SOLVED THE PROBLEM BY CUTTING EMISSIONS, YOU GOT TO
REMEMBER, THAT’S AN UNUSUAL DEFINITION OF SOLVED.
[ LAUGHTER ] SO IT’S CLEARLY POSSIBLE, IT IS
POSSIBLE TO REMOVE CARBON DIOXIDE FROM THE AIR BY
DIFFERENT PATH WAYS. I WILL GIVE YOU SOME TASTE OF A
FEW OF THEM. ONE OF THEM IS THIS THING CALLED
DIRECT AIR CAPTURE THAT THIS COMPANY I FOUNDED IS ONE OF THE
ACTIVE PLAYERS IN. COMBINATION DIRECT AIR CAPTURE
AND INJECTING CO2 UNDERGROUND. YOU CAN DO BIOMASS, THAT IS
BIOFUELS, BURNED IN A POWER PLANT AND PUT THAT CO2
UNDERGROUND, SAME EFFECT. YOU COULD ADD ALKALINE TO THE
OCEAN, A BUNCH OF THINGS LIKE THAT YOU COULD DO.
ALL OF THEM HAVE VERY LITTLE SORT OF TOTAL FLOW OF ACTUAL
MONEY, ALL OF THEM HAVE VERY LITTLE REAL ENGINEERING GOING
ON, COMPARED TO THE SCALE OF THE ENERGY SYSTEM.
AND YET CURRENTLY, THIS BROAD CARBON REMOVAL IS VERY VISIBLE
AND GETTING A LOT OF HYPE IN THE CLIMATE WORLD, AND PEOPLE SEEM
TO THINK IT IS A WAY TO KIND OF GET US OUT OF OUR NEAR TERM
REQUIREMENT TO CUT EMISSIONS. I THINK THAT’S A TRAP.
I THINK IT IS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF MORAL HAZARD.
I THINK THE MORAL HAZARD POSED BY CARBON REMOVAL IS BIGGER THAN
THE MORAL HAZARD POSED BY SOLAR ENGINEERING.
THE REASON IS SOLAR NEENG FEELS FEARSOME.
BUT CARBON REMOVAL DOES. IT I AM NOT CRITICIZING THE FACT
THAT IT MIGHT BE SOMETHING HUMANS WANT TO DO IN THE LONG
RUN. I PERSONALLY WOULD VOTE TO DO
IT, BUT IN THE NEAR TERM, IN GENERAL, OVER THE WHOLE ENERGY
SYSTEM, IT IS CHEAPER TO AVOID EMITTING THAN TO EMIT A TON AND
RECAPTURE IT. THAT WILL BE TRUE FOR A LONG
TIME. MAYBE YOU DON’T QUITE GET TO ZEROZERO.
THEN THOSE FINAL EMISSIONS CAN BE VERY EXPENSIVE AND IT MAY BE
THE CARBON REMOVAL IS THE THING TO DO FOR SOME OF THEM.
AND TO BE CLEAR, THERE ARE OTHER TECHNOLOGIES LIKE DIRECT AIR
CAPTURE THAT CAN BE USED TO MAKE ARTIFICIAL FUELS, FUELS FROM
SUNLIGHT, THAT ACTUALLY ISN’T CARBON REMOVAL, JUST ANOTHER WAY
TO DECARBONIZE THE ENERGY SYSTEM.
A CENTRAL THING ABOUT CARBON REMOVAL IS, IT IS GOING TO BE
SLOW. YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH ALL THE
BILLIONS OF TONS OF CARBON THAT WE PUT INTO THE ATMOSPHERE.
I THINK THERE’S NO WAY THAT IT IS KIND OF A MAGIC GET OUT OF
JAIL QUICK CARD. IT’S INHERENTLY SLOW MOVING, AND
I THINK MOST OF THE REAL LARGE-SCALE APPLICATION OF
CARBON REMOVAL HAPPENS MOSTLY AFTER WE BROUGHT EMISSIONS,
MAYBE NOT TO ZERO, BUT DOWN TO A FRACTION OF WHAT THEY ARE NOW.
AND BOTH POLITICALLY AND IN TERMS OF EFFORT, THE BIG EFFORT
IS BETWEEN US AND GETTING TO THAT POINT WHERE WE’VE MADE
THOSE BIG EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS. AFTER THAT WE CAN TALK ABOUT HOW
MUCH CARBON REMOVAL WE ARE GOING TO DO, BUT THE IDEA THAT CARBON
REMOVAL IS A WAY TO KEEP US UNDER 1.5 DEGREES, I THINK IS
KIND OF A FANTASY IN A WAY THAT’S COME OUT OF THE STRUCTURE
OF THE WAY THE IPCC 1.5 REPORT AND THE PREVIOUS PEOPLE HANDLED.
BUT I DON’T THINK IT’S REALLY BASED ON THE KIND OF REALISTIC
UNDERSTANDING OF HOW MUCH HARDWARE WOULD GET BUILT, WHO
WOULD BUILD IT. PEOPLE THINK IT IS EASIER THAN
CUTTING EMISSIONS, BUT THAT’S A FALSE UNDERSTANDING, BECAUSE THE
HARD PART ABOUT CUTTING EMISSIONS IS THE POLITICAL
BATTLE ABOUT WHO PAYS. AND THAT POLITICAL BATTLE ABOUT
WHO PAYS WILL BE JUST AS REAL FOR CARBON REMOVAL.
TO BE CLEAR, I AM TOTALLY HAPPY TO HAVE SOME EARLY PLANT,
THRILLED THAT MY COMPANY MAY GET TO BUILD ONE.
IT WILL HAPPEN HELP TO BUY DOWN THE UNDERSTANDING IN THE LONG
RUN, BUT I DON’T THINK WE SHOULD LOOK AT IT AS A WAY IT AVOID
EMISSIONS CUTS. THAT’S CARBON REMOVAL.
IN PRINCIPLE, SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING, THIS IDEA WE
DELIBERATELY ADD SOMETHING TO THE ATMOSPHERE, OR CHANGE THE
ATMOSPHERE IN SOME WAY TO REDUCE THE ENERGY IMBALANCE OF THE
EARTH COULD BE USED TO FLATTEN THE TOP, TO FLATTEN THE TOP,
CERTAINLY OF GLOBAL TEMPERATURES, AND MAYBE OF
CLIMATE RISK. BUT THAT’S WHAT WE CAN TALK
ABOUT AFTERWARDS. FOR NOW I WANT TO MOVE, THIS IS
THE IPCC’S SLIDES ON CARBON REMOVAL, WHICH SHOWS YOU THESE
EXTRAORDINARY SHARP PRODUCTIONS THAT YOU NEED TO MEET 1.5.
UNDERLYING THOSE IS ENERGY SYSTEM MODELS, YOU HAVE
EXTRAORDINARY LARGE AMOUNT OF CARBON REMOVAL, AND I THINK WHEN
YOU THINK REALISTICALLY ABOUT HOW THAT WOULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN,
I THINK THERE IS A WAY IN WHICH THERE IS KIND OF AN ACADEMIC
ANALYSIS THAT’S NOT GROUNDED ON REALISTIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE
WAY HARDWARE WOULD ACTUALLY GET BUILT.
SO LET ME MAKE SURE I AM IN THE RIGHT PLACE.
I WANT TO STOP FOR A SECOND AND TALK — REALLY START TALKING
MORE SERIOUSLY ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING.
SORRY ABOUT THAT. SO BEFORE I GET INTO DETAIL, I
THINK I WANT TO SAY, THE CORE IDEA IS CERTAINLY THE IDEA OF
DELIBERATELY ALTERING SOMETHING ABOUT THE EARTH’S BALANCE TO
REDUCE SOME OF THE RISKS OF ACCUMULATED CARBON DIOXIDE.
I THINK THE BEST STATEMENT YOU COULD MAKE IS THAT A COMBINATION
OF EMISSIONS CUTS AND SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING MIGHT HAVE
LOWER RISK THAN EMISSIONS CUTS ALONE.
I DON’T THINK WE KNOW THAT IT DOES, I THINK IT IS CLEAR IN THE
WAY I SAID THAT THAT YOU HAVE IT DO THE EMISSIONS CUTS, BUT IT’S
POSSIBLE TO HAVE THE COMBINATION OFFERS A LOWER RISK PATHWAY THAN
JUST DOING EMISSIONS CUTS. I’LL GIVE YOU A SENSE OF THE
KINDS OF TECHNOLOGIES WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.
IN THIS TALK I WANT TO GO INTO DETAIL — I DON’T WANT TO GO
INTO DETAIL, BUT A ROUGH SENSE. THERE’S A BIG RANGE OF POTENTIAL TECHNOLOGIES.
I THINK THE ONES MOST CERTAIN IT WORK, WHERE WORK DOESN’T WORK IT
REDUCE RISK NS WAY THAT’S USEFUL, BUT WORK THAT MEANS AT A
MINIMUM TO CHANGE THE GLOBAL AVERAGE RATE OF THE BALANCE AND
GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE, ARE THE IDEAS OF ADDING AEROSOLS TO
THE STROT OS FEAR — STRATOSPHERE.
THERE’S SOME REAL BASIS FOR CONFIDENCE THAT COULD BE DONE IN
A WAY THAT WAS RELATIVELY UNIFORM, IN THE SENSE THAT POLE
TO EQUATOR DISTRIBUTION COULD BE UNIFORM.
AND I THINK THERE IS A GOOD BASIS FOR UNDERSTANDING
SOMETHING ABOUT PHYSICALLY HOW TO DO IT.
SO I THINK ONE IMPORTANT THING TO SAY ABOUT IT, WHICH YOU CAN
LOOK AT AS MUCH OF IT BEING A BUG AS A FEATURE, IS THAT IT
LOOKS LIKE IT’S VERY CHEAP TO DO.
SO JUST RAW TECHNICAL ABILITY TO PUT AEROSOLS IN THE STROT OS
FEAR, PEOPLE HAVE DONE — STRATOSPHERE, PEOPLE HAVE DOEN
THIS ANALYSIS SEVERAL DIFFERENT WAYS.
IT IS CHEAP ENOUGH THAT THE COST IS NOT LIKELY TO BE A BIG PART
OF THE DECISION TO USE IT, IN A COST BENEFIT SENSE, IN THE SENSE
THAT IT’S HUNDREDS OR THOUSANDS OF TIMES CHEAPER IN DIRECT COST
THAN OTHER THINGS WE TALK ABOUT DOING, BUT THAT REALLY SAYS IT
IS ALL A RISK — IT APPLIES AT LEAST
THEORETICALLY THE KIND OF UNILATERAL ACTION BY SMALL
STATES. SO BASICALLY THE ORIGINAL IDEAS
ARE MOSTLY AROUND STRATOSPHERIC SULFATES.
FINE AEROSOLS, DROPLETS, YOU MIGHT SAY WHY SULFURIC ACID?
A SMALL DROPLET OF WATER SCATTERS BACK TO SPACE AS WELL
AS A DROPLET OF SULFURIC ACID, BUT THE STRATOSPHERE IS DRY AND
WATER WOULD EVAPORATE INSTANTLY. WHEREAS CONCENTRATED ACID IS
THERE TO KEEP THE WATER FROM EVAPORATING, IS THE WAY I THINK
ABOUT IT. AND THERE’S A BUNCH OF OTHER
THINGS YOU MIGHT USE AS STRATOSPHERIC AEROSOLS.
WE HAVE LOOKED AT CALCIUM CARBONATE, MARINE CLOUDS OR
CIRRUS CLOUDS, AND IDEAS FOR DOING THIS IN SPACE.
SOME OF THESE IDEAS ARE OLD AND ARE GETTING SOME LEVEL OF NEW
LOOK. I THINK AN IMPORTANT THING TO
KNOW IS ABOUT TIME SCALE AND ABOUT REGIONALITY.
SO THE STRATOSPHERIC METHODS BASICALLY INHERENTLY LAST FOR A
COUPLE YEARS, AND YOU CAN LOOK AT THAT AS GOOD OR BAD.
THAT’S AN OBJECTIVE FACT, THEY LAST FOR A COUPLE YEARS.
THAT MEANS THAT SUDDEN CHANGES TAKE A FEW YEARS TO BE FELT, AND
IT MEANS THAT YOU DON’T GET A KIND OF INSTANT IMPACT OF
ANYTHING THAT ANY CHANGE YOU WOULD MAKE.
MARINE CLOUDS AND CIRRUS HAVE TIME SCALES OF HALF A DAY, AND
THAT MEANS THAT IF YOU ACTUALLY DID BUILD A SYSTEM THAT WAS
DOING THIS IN LARGE SCALE, MARINE CLOUDS OR CIRRUS, THAT
MEANS THAT IF THAT SYSTEM SUDDENLY STOPS, YOU HAVE A HUGE
IMPACT RIGHT AWAY, IT MEANS YOU HAVE POTENTIALLY SOME OF THE
POWER TO DO WEATHER CONTROL, WHICH I THINK COULD BE CLEARLY,
YOU KNOW, WEAPONIZED IN DIFFERENT WAYS.
AND SPACE-BASED DEPENDS ON WIN METHOD IT CAN EITHER BE FAST OR
SLOW. SO I WANT TO TRY AND GET AT THE
KIND OF QUESTION I HAVE BEEN HINTING AT, THE CORE OF WHAT I
WANT IT SAY, IN A WAY, IS THE BIG QUESTION, ONE OF THE BIG
QUESTIONS ON SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING IS COULD IT IN A
PHYSICAL SENSE REDUCE CLIMATE RISKS.
AND FOR RIGHT NOW I WANT TO HOLD THE KIND OF CENTRAL POLITICAL
QUESTION, AND CENTRAL CONCERN ABOUT HOW IT MIGHT END UP
INCREASING RISK, BUT LET ME JUST SAY IT, AND THEN LEAVE IT OUT
THERE. I THINK ONE CENTRAL REASON WHY
THIS TOPIC HAS BEEN REALLY SUBJECT TO A SORT OF TABOO, WHY
THERE’S BEEN SO LITTLE RESEARCH, HAS BEEN A FEAR, I THINK, AN
ENTIRELY REASONABLE FEAR, THAT SOME OPPONENTS OF ACTION ON
CLIMATE CHANGE, LIKE BIG FOSSIL FUELS, WILL USE IT AS AN EXCUSE
TO ARGUE AGAINST ACTION. THEY’LL SAY, WELL, THE
POSSIBILITY IT WON’T WORK MEANS WE DON’T NEED TO CUT EMISSIONS.
OR IT DOES WORK, THEREFORE WE DON’T NEED TO CUT EMISSIONS.
NONE OF THOSE STATEMENTS CAN ACTUALLY BE TRUE, BUT I THINK
THAT THEY WILL BE USED. AND SO I THINK THE FEAR IS,
THEN, IS PROVIDES — IT PROVIDES POTENTIALLY A KIND OF WEAPON IN
THE BIT AL BATTLE — POLITICAL BATTLE.
THAT’S BEEN ONE OF THE REASONS SOME OF THE BIG ENVIRONMENT
GROUPS HISTORICALLY ARE RELUCTANT TO SEE RESEARCH ON
THIS. THIS IS CHANGING QUITE QUICKLY
NOW, WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT IN THE Q&A.
IT’S IMPORTANT IT SAY. I THINK I WAS THE FIRST TO CALL
OUT THE MORAL HAZARD OF THIS TOPIC.
IT IS NOT QUITE CLEAR THAT MORAL HAZARD IS THE RIGHT WAY TO THINK
ABOUT IT. I THINK OF IT AS A POLITICAL
MITIGATION THREAT, BUT IT IS CENTRAL TO THE POLITICS.
LET ME FOCUS MORE JUST ON THE PHYSICAL RISKS ACTUALLY IN THE
KIND OF LANGUAGE OF THE IPCC,S HAZARDS, NATURAL HAZARD, STEP
FOUR RISKS THAT CHANGES IN THE PHYSICAL SYSTEM.
SO CAN SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING REDUCE CLIMATE RISKS OR HAZARDS.
SO THERE IS NO ANSWER. THE ANSWER INHERENTLY DEPENDS ON
DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING IS.
ON DECISIONS WE MAKE. THERE’S NO GENERAL OBJECTIVE
ANSWER TO THAT, BECAUSE IT IS NOT LIKE A THING OUT THERE IN NATURE THIS IS AN ENGINEERING
IDEA ON ITS WAY MAYBE, OR MAYBE NOT, TO BECOMING SOMETHING IT
ACTUALLY ENDS UP GETTING DEPLOYED, AND THE CHOICES, THE
SOCIAL CHOICE THAT IS ARE MADE ALONG THE WAY WILL INFORM THAT ANSWER.
SO MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT DEPENDS ON THE METHOD USED, THAT IS
MARINE CLOUDS OR CIRRUS OR STRATOSPHERIC AEROSOL, ON THE SFASHL DIS-TRIB — SFASHL DISTRIBUTION OF SFEERL
— ATIAL DISTRIBUTION.
MOST ARE HUGELY DIFFERENT ANSWERS.
FOR EXAMPLE, THERE’S BEEN PAPERS SHOWING MORE IVENGISTICLY TERRIBLE HORRIFICALLY TERRIBLE I AM L PACKETS IF YOU ONLY DID IT
IN ONE HEMISPHERE. IN FACT, YOU HARDLY NEED TO HAVE
A PAPER TO DO THAT, YOU CAN ALSO SHOW THAT IF YOU DID IT AT, SAY,
10% OF TOTAL SUNLIGHT INPUT, YOU COULD FREEZE THE WHOLE PLAN
THEETTE. ALL SORTS OF WAY YOU COULD HAVE
HORRIFIC IMPACTS. THAT’S COMMON FOR ALL SORTS OF
POTENTIALLY USEFUL TECHNOLOGIES, INDEED, MAYBE ALL OF THEM IN
SOME WAYS. BUT THE — WHAT THE IMPACTS
ACTUALLY ARE DEPENDS CRUCIALLY ON WHAT DECISIONS ARE MADE. USING SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING,
DOES IT GET USED TO RETURN THE EARTH TO PRE-INDUSTRIAL TEMPERATURES, TO
HOLD TEMPERATURES FIXED, OR TO HOLD PRECIPITATION FIXED?
FOR EXAMPLE, GABRIELE HEGERL MENTIONED CONCERNS ABOUT REDUCED
PRECIPITATION, REAM CONCERNS. BUT THAT’S A — REASONABLE
CONCERNS. THAT’S A CHOICE.
A VERY REASONABLE WAY, IN FACT, THE WAY I THINK I MIGHT ADVOCATE
TO THINK ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING, WOULD BE TO USE IT
TO HOLD PRECIP RATES OR THE CYCLE CONSTANT, ALLOWING
TEMPERATURE TO INCREASE SLOWLY. A BUNCH OF DIFFERENT WAYS TO
THINK ABOUT THIS. AND THESE ARE DESIGN CHOICES.
THEY ARE NOT FORCED IN.
AND NOBODY OWNS THE DEFINITION OF WHAT SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING IS. SO YOU CAN DIVIDE THIS QUESTION
FURTHER INTO, I THINK, TWO USEFUL SUBQUESTIONS.
ONE IS, SORRY, I GOT MYSELF CONFUSED FOR A SECOND.
SO I’M GOING TO PROPOSE A SCENARIO
WHICH I THINK IS AT LEAST LESS CRAZY THAN SOME, BUT I’M MAKING
NO CLAIM THAT IT’S AN OPTIMAL SCENARIO, OR, WELL, THAT IT’S IN
ANY WAY PERFECT. THE SCENARIO IS THAT YOU WOULD
DEPLOY SOME METHOD OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING THAT HAD
SPATIALLY UNIFORM RADIANT FORCING, HOW HARD WE ARE PUSHING THE
CLIMATE SYSTEM, SPATIALLY UNIFORM EAST TO WEST, POLE TO
EQUATOR. I AM NOT SAYING PRECISELY
UNIFORM RS ASTERISKS, WE CAN ARGUE ABOUT HOW UNIFORM IT HAS
TO BE, AND MODERATE, MEANING THAT IT’S DONE IN THE TO RETURN
TEMPERATURES TO PRE-INDUSTRIAL, BUT DONE AS A SUPPLEMENT TO EMISSIONS MITIGATION, TO REDUCE,
SAY, THE RATE OF CHANGE, OR RADIANT FORCING OR REDUCE PEAK
RADIANT FORCING. SO THAT — WITH THAT SCENARIO,
THEN YOU STILL HAVE TWO CHOICES: OR TWO KIND OF SUBQUESTIONS: ONE
SUBQUESTION IS, IF YOU COULD DO THAT, HOW MUCH WOULD THIS
SCENARIO REDUCE IMPORTANT CLIMATE HAZARDS.
HOW EQUITABLY WOULD REGIONS SEE INCREASED RISKS.
THE TOOLS FOR ANSWERING THAT ARE MOSTLY CLIMATE MODELS AND
HISTORICAL ANALOGS. AND THEN THE SECOND SET OF
QUESTIONS ARE, IS IT FEASIBLE, TECHNICALLY, AND THERE’S A WHOLE
SEPARATE SET OF QUESTIONS ABOUT POLITICALLY, IS IT FEASIBLE
POLITICALLY TO ENGINEER RADIANT FORCING.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS, WHAT ARE THE COSTS?
HOW CONTROLLABLE IS IT? AND THAT’S A COMPLICATED MULTIDISCIPLINARY STUDY THAT
INVOLVES KNOWLEDGE OF STRATOSPHERIC CIRCULATIONS,
INVOLVES AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING, AEROSOLS, A COMPLICATED
MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPLICATION OF ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE WE
MOSTLY ALREADY KNOW, TO A NEW PROBLEM.
SO I’LL TACKLE THE QUESTION ONE FIRST, AND I AM GOING TO ARGUE
THAT EVIDENCE IS IN FACT QUITE STRONG THAT A SCENARIO LIKE THAT WITH EVEN
RADIANT FORCING USED TO CUT TOTAL CHANGE IN RADIANT FORCING
ROUGHLY IN HALF, WOULD REDUCE HAZARDS SIGNIFICANTLY.
SO FOR EXAMPLE, IT WOULD REDUCE REGIONAL CHANGES IN WATER
AVAILABILITY, NOT JUST GLOBAL AVERAGE, BUT ON A REGIONAL BASIS, IT WOULD TEND TO
BRING ALMOST ALL REGIONS BACK TOWARDS THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL WITH
RESPECT TO WATER AVAILABILITY. IT WOULD REDUCE EXTREME
PRECIPITATION IN THE SAME SENSE. IT WOULD REDUCE THE INTENSITY OF
PROP CAL CYCLONES — TROPICAL CYCLONES QUITE STRONGLY.
IT WOULD REDUCE EXTREME TEMPERATURES ALSO, THIS KIND OF
REGIONAL SENSE. I WILL SHOW YOU SOME OF THE
BASIS FOR THAT. THIS IS THE ONE KIND OF
COMPLICATED FIGURE I WANT TO SHOW YOU.
FIRST I WANT TO TELL YOU HOW WE GOT THAT FIGURE.
SO THIS IS — THIS IS WORK THAT I DID, BUT IT TURNS OUT IT IS
KIND OF THE SAME AS WORK A BUNCH OF OTHER PEOPLE DID, TOO, SO I
DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT SHOWING MY OWN STUFF.
THIS CAME OUT OF A COLLABORATION WITH THE GEOPHYSICAL FLUID
DYNAMICS LAB AT PRINCETON. THEY HAVE A MODEL, ONE OF THE
HIGHEST RESOLUTION CLIMATE MODELS, DOES A GREAT JOB ON
TROPICAL CYCLONES. I WAS INVOLVED IN THE FORTRAN OF
CLIMATE MODELS BACK IN THE EARLY 90s, AND AT THAT POINT, THE IDEA
THAT THEY WOULD JUST ACTUALLY GENERATE TROPICAL SIGH CLEANSE
OUT OF THE MODEL SIS PHYSICS CORRECTLY, IT IS AMAZINGLY
CORRECT. THE GRAPH ON THE LEFT-HAND SIDE
SHOWS HOW WELL THE DISTRIBUTION OF CYCLONE INTENSITY MATCHES
REAL OBSERVATIONS. AND IT USED TO BE WE HAD TO PUT
IT IN KIND OF A FORTRAN SUBPROGRAM TO PRETEND TO BE A
TROPICAL CYCLONE. NOW IT IS JUST COMING OUT OF THE
MODEL. SOMETHING PROFOUND THE WAY THE
MODELS ARE BEGINNING TO CAPTURE MORE OF THE REALITY ABOUT THE
WAY THE CIRCULATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE WORKS.
LOTS OF UNCERTAINTY STILL AS GABBY SAID VERY WELL, BUT I
THINK IT SHOWS YOU THERE’S SOMETHING REALLY, SOME REAL
SKILL IN WHAT THESE MODELS CAN PREDICT.
SO THIS GROUP HAD NEVER TRIED WORKING ON SOLAR ENERGY
ENGINEERING BEFORE. WE ENCOURAGED THEM TO WORK WITH
US, WE BROUGHT IN A GUY CARY EMMANUEL, A GREAT EXPERT ON
TROPICAL CYCLONES; SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING, THEN WE DID A
SLIGHTLY MORE CAREFUL LOOK THAN PEOPLE HAD DONE BEFORE AT THE
STATISTICS AND THE RULES. WHAT WE DID, FOR — AND THE
RESULTS. FOR EACH LE INDICATION IN SPACE,
WE WOULD ESTIMATE WHETHER STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT SENSE
THAT REGION WAS MANUFACTURED, WE SAID, MODERATED OR EXACERBATED.
CAREFUL NOT TO SAY BETTER OR WORSE, BUT THAT’S NOT AS CLEAR.
CLIMATE MOVED CLOSER TO PRE-END US TAR HEEL BY — INDUSTRIAL AND
FARTHER MEANS — IN GENERAL YOU ASSUME EXACERBATE IS BAD.
PREVIOUS STUDIES LOOKED AT TEMPERATURE AND PRECIP, BUT
THAT’S KIND OF CAN FOOL YOU. IN A WORLD THAT’S HOTTER, YOU
HAVE BOTH MORE PRECIP AND ALSO MORE EVAPORATION.
AND WHAT LOTS OF ECO-SYSTEMS AND FARMERS WANT IS WATER
AVAILABILITY, WHICH IS ACTUALLY PRECIP MINUS EVAPORATION.
SO THEY CARE ABOUT THAT, AND EXTREME PRECIP IS ACTUALLY, CAN
BE A CLIMATE HAZARD. SO WE LOOKED AT TEMPERATURE,
WHICH IS ON VEE — OBVIOUS, TEMPERATURE EXTREMES, WHICH ARE
VERY IMPORTANT FOR HUMAN IMPACTS.
HOTTEST HOUR OF THE YEAR. WE LOOKED AT PE IS WATER
AVAILABILITY, PRECIP MINUS EVAPORATION, EXTREME PRECIP, MAX
FIVE DAY, PRETTY IMPORTANT, AND THEN DIFFERENT WAYS WE COULD
BEND THEM. WE DECIDED TO BEND THEM IN THE
STANDARD WAY THE IPCC DOES, BENDING MEANS THE AREA WE
AVERAGED. SO WE AVERAGED THEM IN THESE
IPCC X REGIONS, THEY ARE CALLED, I WILL SHOW THEM IN A SECOND AND
COLOR CODED AS FOLLOWS. AND THE PUNCH LINE IS SIMPLY
THAT THERE’S NO BRIGHT RED SYMBOL THERE.
SO IN NONE OF THE REGIONS ARE ANY OF THE VARIABLES
STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANTLY MOVED TO BE EXACERBATED.
SO THIS MAY NOT BE TRUE IN REALITY.
[ LAUGHTER ] BUT IF THERE IS A REASON TO TAKE
SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING SERIOUSLY AS SOMETHING THAT
MIGHT BE ABLE TO PRODUCE A SUBSTANTIAL REDUCTION IN HUMAN
SUFFERING AND IN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS, NOT THIS FINDING ALONE,
BUT FINDINGS LIKE THIS ARE IT. AND IF THERE’S A REASON TO
QUESTION SOME OF THE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT HOW UNEQUAL THIS WOULD BE,
IT’S FINDINGS LIKE THIS THAT ARE IT.
BECAUSE WHAT THIS SHOWS IS THAT NO REGION IN THIS PARTICULAR
ANALYSIS IS LEFT WORSE OFF. THIS IS WITH TURNED DOWN THE SUN
SOLAR ENGINEERING. WE ALREADY REPLICATED IT WITH A
VERSION OF SULPHUR IN THE MODEL. QUITE STUNNING.
MY GUESS IS THAT IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, BUT I CAN’T FIND
THAT. I THINK THE BIG CHALLENGE FOR
THIS COMMUNITY, THE COMMUNITY WORKING ON SOLAR ENERGY
ENGINEERING, IS TO THINK REALLY HARD ABOUT ALL THE WAYS WE COULD
BE FOOLING OURSELVES. I THINK GROUP THINK IS OUR
BIGGEST ENEMY. REDUCES SEA LEVEL RISE, THAT’S
PRETTY EASY. ALSO REDUCES CARBON
CONCENTRATIONS SLIGHTLY. I WILL TELL YOU ABOUT THAT,
BECAUSE IT IS SURPRISING, AND OPPOSITE TO WHAT MANY PEOPLE
THINK. SO THIS IS KIND OF BASIC CLIMATE
SCIENCE. CARBON EMISSIONS DRIVE MORE
CARBON IN THE ATMOSPHERE, MORE CARBON MAKES IT WARMER, WARMER
MEANS THERE’S LESS CARBON ABSORBED BY THE OCEANS, AND MORE
RELEASED BY PERMAFROST AND OTHER SYSTEMS LIKE THAT.
AND THEN THERE’S A FEEDBACK. THAT’S WELL UNDERSTOOD.
BEEN UNDERSTOOD FOR DECADES. OF COURSE THE CONSEQUENCE IS IF
YOU COMPARE TWO WORLDS WITH THE SAME HUMAN EMISSIONS OF CO2, AND
ONE WORLD HAS LESS OF THOSE FEEDBACKS, BECAUSE IT HAS SOME
SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING, THE WORLD WITH LESS OF THOSE
FEEDBACKS HAS LESS CARBON ACCUMULATED AT THE END OF THE
CENTURY. IN A WORLD WHERE YOU DO SOLAR
ENERGY ENGINEERING AND YOU KEEP EMISSIONS THE SAME, WHICH OF
COURSE POLITICALLY YOU MIGHT NOT, THAT’S THE BIG ISSUE, YOU
WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE A LITTLE LOWER CARBON CONCENTRATIONS AT
THE END OF THE CENTURY. DOESN’T SOLVE THE FUNDAMENTAL
FACT, IF YOU WANT TO MATCH CARBON CONCENTRATIONS, YOU HAVE
TO BRING EMISSIONS TO ZERO, BUT IT HELPS AROUND THE EJTS.
AND OF COURSE — THE EDGES. AND GLOBAL TEMPERATURES.
WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE ANY FAITH IN THIS?
LOTS OF YADDA YADDA, MULTI-MODELS, WHATEVER.
BUT I THINK THE STRONGEST EVIDENCE IS THAT — IT’S BEEN 19
YEARS SINCE THE FIRST GOOD QUALITY, FIRST PAPER TO APPLY
CLIMATE MODEL SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING.
A PAPER THAT THE PERSON DID, KEN CALDERA, HIS BIAS TO SHOW THAT
SOLAR ENGINEERING DIDN’T WORK. 19 YEARS AGO, HE FOUND THE
OPPOSITE. AND THAT’S A LOT OF TIME.
AND PEOPLE HAVE LOOKED HARD AT A LOT OF THESE RISKS FOR A LOT OF
OBVIOUS RISKS WE CARE ABOUT, OZONE, OR AIR POLLUTION, ORIGIN
EQUALITY RISKS, A LOT OF THEM — OR INEQUALITY RISKS.
THERE’S A FAIR AMOUNT OF LITERATURE, 500 PAPERS TOTAL.
I THINK THE EVIDENCE THAT THESE TECHNOLOGIES MIGHT ACTUALLY
ENABLE REAL REDUCTION OF RISKS IS GROWING.
AND YOU CAN’T ACTUALLY POINT TO PAPERS WHICH EXAMINE THIS KIND
OF MODERATE AND UNIFORM, MODERATE MEANING ROUGHLY HALVING
THE RADIANT FORCING AND UNIFORM CASE, YOU CAN’T POINT TO PAPERS
WHICH DO THAT AND FIND REALLY HUGE RISKS.
AND I THINK THAT’S TRUE, THE FACT THAT THAT’S TRUE, AND TRUE,
GIVEN THE FACT THAT MANY PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY, I THINK, WERE
LOOKING FOR PROBLEMS, WHICH WAS THE RIGHT THING TO BE DOING,
GIVES ME SOME CONFIDENCE THERE’S SOMETHING REAL THERE. I WANT TO MAKE SURE I SAVE THE
FINAL CLOSING — SORRY, I AM A LITTLE [ COUGHING ]
STILL RECOVERING FROM THE FLU AND GOING SLOW.
JUST, I GUESS I WOULD SUMMARIZE BY SAYING, WE CERTAINLY CANNOT
SAY WITH CONFIDENCE THAT IT’S POSSIBLE TO PRODUCE A MODERATE
DISTRIBUTION OF AEROSOLS IN THE STRATOSPHERE, WATER TWO PER
SQUARE METER WITH RELATIVE LIVE LOW ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS, BUT
THERE’S REASONS TO BELIEVE THAT THAT IS NOT IMPLAUSIBLE.
SO THESE ARE SOME PICTURES FROM IGLUIC IN THE MID-80s.
IN CLOSING I WANT TO SAY, THE BIG DEBATE ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY
ENGINEERING THAT WE SHOULD BE HAVING, EFFECTIVELY IS
BEGINNING, IS NOT ABOUT WLOFRNT TO DO IT — WHETHER OR NOT TO DO
IT. BECAUSE THAT’S NOT A DECISION
OUR GENERATION IS MAKING, IN REALITY.
THAT DECISION WILL GET MADE IN DECADES.
THE REAL HARD DECISION IS SHOULD THERE BE A RESEARCH PROGRAM.
RIGHT NOW THERE’S BEEN A TABOO, PEOPLE HAVE NOT WANTED TO THINK
ABOUT IT. MY ARGUMENT IS THAT WE SHOULD
REALLY BRING THIS THING OUT INTO THE OPEN.
SUNLIGHT IS THE BEST DISINFECTANT.
WE SHOULD HAVE AN ACTIVE, REALLY INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH PROGRAM,
ONE THAT CONSCIOUSLY FUNDS SOME PEOPLE TO FOCUS ON FINDING WHAT
THE PROBLEMS ARE, TO TRY AND BREAK DOWN GROUP THINK, ONE
THAT’S MUCH MORE DIVERSE THAN THE CURRENT RESEARCH PROGRAM
WHICH IS TINY. ONE THAT AMOUNTS TO BE SEVERAL
PERCENT OF KIND OF GLOBAL CLIMATE RESEARCH AND KIND OF
EMBEDDED INTO THE GLOBAL CLIMATE RESEARCH PROGRAM.
AND THE GOEBLE GOAL IS TO PROVIDE — THE GOAL IS TO
PROVIDE OUR KIDS WITH BETTER BASIS TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT
THESE TECHNOLOGIES. IT’S IMPORTANT TO SAY THAT IF
SOME OF YOU THINK THAT YOU HAVE SOME REASON WHY YOU’RE JUST SURE
THAT THESE TECHNOLOGIES ARE REALLY A TERRIBLE IDEA, AND
SHOULDN’T BE DONE, THAT IT IS NOT YOUR DECISION OR MINE.
AND WE CAN’T BIEPD OUR CHILDREN’S HANDS — BIND OUR
CHILDREN’S HANDS. WE CAN’T PASS A BINDING RULE TO
FORCE THEM TO NEVER, EVER, EVER TO LOOK AT THIS THING.
IN FACT, I THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY.
I THINK PROBABLY THAT SOME NATIONS, PROBABLY POORER
NATIONS, WILL BE FACING, SAY, AFTER A BIG HEAT WAVE, REAL
DECISIONS ABOUT IMPLEMENTING THESE TECHNOLOGIES WITHIN THE
NEXT, SAY, THREE DECADES IS PRETTY HIGH.
AND IF WE CHOOSE TO HAVE RESEARCH PROGRAM, WE CAN AT
LEAST GIVE THEM MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES
MIGHT BE, ABOUT SOME WAYS TO DO IT THAT ARE LESS RISKY OR MORE
RISKY, HOW TO MONITOR IT, HAD YOU TO MEASURE IT, HOW TO
COMPENSATE. IF WE HAVE NO RESEARCH PROGRAM,
WHICH HAS BEEN THE CURRENT DEFAULT, IT DOESN’T PREVENT THEM
MAKING A DECISION TO DO IT, BECAUSE THE UNDERLYING ABILITY
TO DO IT IS ESSENTIALLY HERE NOW.
IF WE HAVE NO RESEARCH PROGRAM, WHAT IT DOES IT MEANS PEOPLE
MAKE DECISIONS IN IGNORANCE. MY VIEW IS WE SHOULD GET THIS
THING OUT OF THE SHADOWS AND HAVE REAL RESEARCH PROGRAM SO WE
CAN HAVE A DEBATE HOW IT FITS INTO THE LARGER CHOICES WE MAKE ABOUT CLIMATE.
THANK YOU. [ APPLAUSE ]

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