It's impossible to predict the exact speed and severity with which climate change will unfold, but one thing is clear: if we take no preventive action, eventually we'll be tempted to take desperate action. And over the decades, as the effects of climate change grow increasingly severe, the amount of risk humankind is willing to bear will increase.
In the next decade, as Dust Bowl–like conditions afflict the American West and it becomes ever more difficult to dismiss the drought as a temporary glitch, low-risk methods for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will start to look attractive. The most benign scheme would be to plant more trees. In 1976, physicist Freeman Dyson proposed planting a tree farm the size of Australia to offset the fossil-fuel emissions of the day. By 2009, NASA climate modelers and biologist Leonard Ornstein estimated that both the Australian outback and the Sahara would have to be transformed into forest to remove meaningful quantities of carbon dioxide. They proposed irrigating both deserts with desalinated seawater and planting them with eucalyptus forests, which could remove as much as 12 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year—about a third of the total global emissions in 2010. Nuclear power plants could generate carbon-free electricity for the network of reverse-osmosis desalination plants. This world-historical landscaping project would carry risks. An afforested Sahara could provide a breeding ground for swarms of crop-destroying locusts and flocks of disease-carrying birds. Because Saharan dust may help suppress Atlantic cyclone formation, the scheme could strengthen hurricanes. The biggest problem, however, may be the $1-trillion-plus annual cost.
A cheaper method would be ocean fertilization—dumping iron dust into the sea to stimulate the growth of CO2-breathing phytoplankton. Over the past two decades, scientists have conducted more than a dozen small-scale trials to confirm that iron seeding does indeed stimulate the growth of phytoplankton. Yet ocean fertilization could devastate aquatic life; iron seeding could unintentionally stimulate the growth of algal varieties that are toxic to fish, or create oxygen-depleted dead zones. And it might not even remove all that much CO2. Researchers with Britain's Royal Society estimated that even a massive global ocean-fertilization program might reduce atmospheric carbon concentrations by only 10 parts per million, which would have no impact on global temperatures.
There are two ways to make residential solar cost effective: We can raise the price of energy or we can lower the price of solar.
As Spain is discovering the hard way, anything that raises the price of energy destroys the economy. For every job created by pushing renewable energy, 2.2 jobs were eliminated elsewhere in the economy. Their unemployment is now at 25% and they are on the verge of economic collapse. Raising energy prices is extremely destructive.
The better way is to lower the cost of solar.
I keep hearing about massive solar projects. How does that make any sense at all?
A power plant can produce electricity for 3-5 cents/kWh. I am paying 13 cents/kWh. As solar prices drop, who is going to find it more appealing?... me or the power company?
If solar prices somehow drop to the point where they are competitive with the big power plants, I would have to be insane not to put those cheap panels all over my rooftop. Either way, the power company becomes the energy storage and distribution company... at best.
Solar is for energy buyers, not energy sellers.
Much science shows that the warmer the plannet gets, the more prosperous it gets and also the more forces come into play that cool the plannet.
Wow. Can't have the unwashed masses questioning the high priests of "settled science" now, can we? Climate Change is a joke, a pseudo-religion. One need only recall the dire predictions made the "scientific community" a mere 35 years ago about THE COMING ICE AGE!!11!!!111!
"Pop" science, indeed.....