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I belong to a facebook group on "Climate Change Discussion," and recently another participant, David, in that group offered the following reflection:

As powder is heavier than air (aerosol), as demonstrated by the two year temperature reduction after Krakatoa and similar volcanoes erupted, doesn't that mean all geoengineering is pointless (as well as extremely toxic) as the powder can only stay in the air and block the sun out for the same period and then return to the status quo? If so why do Spice and the Gates Foundation spend millions or more researching it when we probably already know not only would it be a very short term effect but probably not enough chemicals in the entire world to carry it out?

The kind of geoengineering David has in mind here provided material for a full chapter of McKenzie Funk's book, WINDFALL.

Yes, there are ideas in some circles, among people who accept that climate change is both real and troublesome, that the best way to address it is technological. If humans can add ... something ... to the existing atmospheric mix we establish a lasting temperature equilibrium.

As Funk says, there are three sorts of people who advocate geoengineering on the necessary scale, or at least serious research into how it might be done: scientists "deeply afraid of run-away climate change; free-market advocates deeply afraid of mandated carbon cuts; and the capitalists or philanthrocapitalists who sustain them both."

Newt Gingrich presumably was speaking for the second category when he said, "Geoengineering holds forth the promise of addressing global warming concerns for just a few billion dollars a year. instead of penalizing ordinary Americans, we would have an option to address global warming by rewarding scientific innovation."

Parenthetically, I don't know when exactly Gingrich said that. There is no documentation of it in Windfall, and nothing more specific on the dating than that it was said prior to his presidential campaign of 2012.  Some googling gets me to other sources that agree in attributing this quote to him, and that seem to date it to 2008, when Congress was considering a carbon tax bill and Gingrich thought the prospect of an engineering fix would help kill that idea.

I'd like to thank David for bringing up the matter and giving me something upon which to ruminate.


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