[UPDATE: Ken Caldeira has responded in the comments, so be sure to read his response.]
[I intended to post on this Monday, but personal obligations as well as the remarkable events in Iran and online, have been taking up a lot of my time. Then the NPR piece posted on Tuesday, and so on. This isn’t a finished post, just the bones of it.]
Jamais Cascio has a piece in the Wall Street Journal regarding the need to seriously address geo-engineering. It’s a familiar call to arms, one that seems driven by genuine alarm about our lack of short term ability to do anything about climate rather than the tired geo-engineering instead of mitigation anti-regulation smokescreens of the past. And bonus points to Cascio for at least paying lip service to the drawbacks of schemes like sulfate-injections into the stratosphere, including two[!] mentions of ocean acidification:
Also, neither would do anything to solve other problems that arise from excessive levels of carbon dioxide, such as oceans becoming more acidic from increased carbon loading.
Still, we can’t forget: Geoengineering is not a solution for global warming. It would simply hold temperatures down temporarily, doing nothing about the causes of climate change, let alone ocean acidification and other symptoms of a carbon overdose.
In contrast Graeme Wood has a new article on geo-engineering in The Atlantic Monthly that simply doesn’t mention ocean acidification at all (although it nods to consequences from increased acid rain). And NPR has a brief piece on geo-engineering, also focusing on the sulfate aerosol flavor, including some quotes from Ken Caldeira among others that likewise makes no mention of ocean acidification.
This is all the more interesting because Caldeira and Long Cao have of late been doing a lot of work on ocean acidification- I cited one of their more eye-poppingly entitled papers (Coral reefs may start dissolving when atmospheric CO2 doubles) in the Idso/Climate Realists acidification post and Caldeira’s Revelle lecture was basically dedicated to it. To top it off, along with lead author Damon Matthews, they have a new paper out in GRL, Sensitivity of ocean acidification to geoengineered climate stabilization (or here) explicitly addressing this glaring flaw in any sulfate aerosol geo-engineering “solution”.
[The Matthews paper is an interesting read, and I’d have liked to spend more time on it.] Perhaps surprisingly, Caldeira remains a fairly vocal proponent of aggressive geo-engineering research despite his express knowledge that it doesn’t address “the other CO2 problem”; one that his Revelle lecture makes clear he takes quite seriously. Is this a testament to how much worse he thinks warming alone will be, reflective of a concern about tipping points/thresholds, etc., or something else? That’s something I’d love to see addressed the next time someone writes an article on geo-engineering and/or interviews Caldeira.