“Can We Cool the Planet?” Right Now, on Nova

The average temperature of our atmosphere is now 1oC warmer than it was in 1880. Scientists are now concerned that we are approaching what they hypothesize to be a tipping point where the atmosphere becomes 1.5oC warmer than it was in 1880. At our current rate of fossil fuel use, this would likely start before the end of the 21st century.

As I reported on my page, Climate Change, Health, and Micro-industrialization, if we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, the world would continue to warm, though at a slower rate. That’s because there’s so much CO2 in the atmosphere (over 400 PPM) that the greenhouse effect will continue to warm things up. Furthermore, annual wildfires of greater intensity, and the loss of reflective ice and snow in the Polar Regions also contribute to temperature rise. Our only option, in addition to stopping the burning of fossil fuels, is to remove it from the atmosphere, something we cannot yet do on a large scale. Nova presented all the initiatives and their associated problems for doing this, aired on October 28, 2020.

That we are clearly going to burn fossil fuels for some time, and that carbon capture currently cannot be done on a large scale suggests that our biosphere is going to get dangerously hotter. The global situation is such that we are facing a slow-motion version of getting hit by a giant asteroid or a nuclear war. All life will be affected to varying degrees. Unfortunately, we are not very good at addressing things that seem to be “far into the future.” I guess if I had the choice, I would go for the asteroid. We could really rally a plan for that.