Tim Flannery: Plant Forests with eBay, Pump Sulfur into the Stratosphere to Fight Climate Change

It turns out noted science writer -- and 2007 "Australian of the Year" (not to mention a TH favorite) -- Tim Flannery is an advocate of geoengineering. Specifically, he supports a scheme in which sulfate aerosols would be injected into the stratosphere -- essentially replicating the climatic effects of a volcanic eruption -- to reflect incoming solar radiation (see here for some background).

Global dimming, as it's known, may be necessary as "the last barrier to climate collapse," Flannery said, speaking at a sustainable business conference in Parliament House. "It would change the colour of the sky . . . We need to be ready to start doing it in perhaps five years time if we fail to achieve what we're trying to achieve."The big caveat, as he was quick to add, is that: "The consequences of doing that are unknown." In addition to making an appeal for global dimming, Flannery also argued in favor of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) -- in this case, taking carbon "out of the air" and converting it into charcoal, to be then ploughed into farmers' fields.

Wealthy individuals could subsidize poor farmers' efforts to reforest their land through an eBay-like direct purchase plan. Furthermore, he said that all coal-fired plants that do not use CCS technology should be closed by 2030, at the latest.

While commending the new government for its more ambitious climate policy, he urged it to go much further -- calling its efforts "nowhere near enough" -- and to remove the means test introduced last week that would limit the $8,000 solar panel rebate to those families earning less than $100,000. The proposed scheme has angered environmental organizations and cast Australia's growing solar industry into disarray.

Though many (rightly) remain wary of using geoengineering on a grand scale, it says something when a man like Tim Flannery -- hardly a wide-eyed lunatic -- argues for its use. As I've said before, we should let scientists to conduct low-intensity, small-scale demonstrations of these schemes to vet the underlying science -- and identify their secondary effects.

It's certainly premature to allow any company to just go out there and experiment without the science to back it up; at the same time, however, dismissing geoengineering out of hand and not allowing any further research could be equally ill-advised.

Image courtesy of NEWS.com.au

Via ::NEWS.com.au: Tim Flannery's radical climate change 'solution' (news website)

See also: ::Author, Tim Flannery, at War with Climate Change, ::Tim Flannery - Treehugging Across the Digital Divide