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A Case for Climate Engineering (Boston Review Books) Hardcover – September 20, 2013
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Keith's proposal is audacious at first, but in the course of this brief book he makes a convincing case.(Slate)
Keith manages to keep the tone sober without ever sounding dull. His chapter on ethics deftly summarises some of the competing moral claims…Reading about proposals to alter the climate of an entire planet on purpose is dizzying. Yet scientists already talk of the dawning of a new geological age, the Anthropocene, named because humans, or rather, the industrial civilisation they have created, have become the main factor driving the evolution of Earth. [ The Case for Climate Engineering emphasises] just how seriously the idea of deliberately altering the climate is being considered, both in scientific journals and among some governments…[Keith is] a guide for the undecided.(The Economist)
Keith deserves credit for directing attention to ideas he knows are dangerous. Accepting the concept of the Anthropocene means accepting that humans have the responsibility to find technological fixes for disasters they have created. But little progress has been made toward a process for rationally supervising such activity on a global scale. We need a more open discussion about a seemingly outlandish but real geopolitical risk: war over climate engineering.(Eli Kintisch Technology Review)
About the Author
David Keith has worked near the interface between climate science, energy technology, and public policy for twenty years. He is currently the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University and Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.
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Top Customer Reviews
The author is clearly enamored with the lost cost, ease of implementation and tunability of SRM. But, IMHO, there is too little discussion of the different response of the earth to addition of CO2 versus reduction in solar radiation. The latter may enable adjustment of the average temperature of the earth, prevent melting of glaciers, halt sea level rise, etc. These are the most visible current issues in global warming due to CO2 increase. They are likely to dominate the political thinking and response, which IMHO may be very shortsighted.
Here is just one issue that needs to be considered in much more depth before proceeding with any climate engineering. A major response to increased CO2 is acidification of the ocean. And, lowering the temperature will increase CO2 absorption into seawater, thus increasing acidification. The choice of a low cost, easily implemented SRM approach instead of a much higher cost, massive CO2 removal approach may actually worsen the calamity that humans are bringing on by making the oceans less able to support life.
The author, throughout the book, argues not only for a geoengineering option but also for emission reductions. I agree with him on this. My fear is that acceptance of a geoengineering strategy will turn out to be much like the behavior of a diabetic I worked with (past tense). Although the diabetic loved his sweets - donuts, cookies, and cakes - he had this "I'll just need to take more insulin" attitude. This is my fear. If geoengineering works and reduces heating will we become like this diabetic? I can keep on eating cookies (burning coal) if only I just use a bit more insulin after each doctor check-up. The problem here is that, like kidneys that can be ruined, ocean acidification is not resolved by atmospheric geoengineering. So we can keep the temperature down, but we will continue to pollute via ocean acidification and so poison the seas.
As much as people oppose nuclear energy, I support James Lovelock's position that it is the only assured option that is carbon free. By assured I mean it works 24-7. Not from sun up to sun down, not just on breezy days. I do not oppose solar or wind, in fact I support them, but I simply believe that nuclear is a better option for assured energy over the next 100 years.
One other thing, the author mentions briefly the possible use of space-based solar shades.Read more ›
One would hope for much better than this in a book published by a branch of MIT Press and written by a Harvard professor. I couldn't help but wonder whether this book was hastily brought to press in response to Clive Hamilton's excellent "Earthmasters, The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering," published by Yale Univ. Press earlier in 2013. In "Earthmasters" Hamilton makes devastating arguments against geoengineering (another name for climate engineering), and he makes them movingly, persuasively, clearly, and without typos.
Hamilton's "Earthmasters" book makes the point that many of geoengineering's most vocal supporters have a financial interest in the area. There is a lot of money to be made if the idea of climate engineering ever takes off. Keith acknowledges at the outset that he indeed does have such a financial interest (in a company working on removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere), but then brushes that aside by saying his financial interest is not in solar-radiation management, which is the focus of his book. But I'd prefer to see a thoughtful analysis by a scholar with no financial interest in geoengineering at all.
All that aside, "A Case for Climate Engineering" does make some interesting points and is useful to read to see what prospective climate engineers are thinking. I was not persuaded, but I do have a better understanding of the arguments for climate engineering after reading this book. Let's hope MIT Press will clean up the typos in future editions, if there are any. In the meantime, I highly recommend "Earthmasters."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
DAVID KEITH- SICK NAZI PSEUDO-SCIENTIST.
This guy is no scientist - more like a Nazi experimenter with your life & your kids lives with his sick ideas of spraying... Read more
This book reads like an essay paper written for scientist or a college thesis paper. The ideas, as colorful as they maybe, are a terrible assault on earth's atmosphere. Read morePublished 17 months ago by BillyWildflowers
A straightforward and methodically written book that outlines the risks and benefits associated with Geo-engineering and more specifically, Solar Radiation Management.Published 18 months ago by SMS
since I do not agree with the author, am not giving this 5 stars, but as far as the condition of the book - it was excellent, and arrived promptly. No complaints.Published 22 months ago by Kauai resident
He told a group in San Diego that spraying aluminum was a good thing, now it is supposedly not happening. Give me a break. Read morePublished on May 4, 2014 by Tim Cunningham
These planes are already in our global skies and have been for years spraying chemicals and creating thick cloud covers. Mr. Read morePublished on April 7, 2014 by Amazon Customer
Book was brand new. It came in 2 days with Prime, I am using this for a paper I'm doing on chem-trails for my environmental law class. Read morePublished on April 5, 2014 by Ilse Liset Santos
I've communicated with the author in the past regarding the aerial spraying which has gone on continually in the UK since at least as far back as 2011. Read morePublished on March 11, 2014 by I. Carstairs
I'm an engineer too, greatly concerned about climate change. But this proposal will never happen and seeding the atmosphere with sulfuric acid is too far off the scale of... Read morePublished on February 22, 2014 by globalreleaf