We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

The Zero Sum Climate Game

By Keith Kloor
Oct 18, 2009 5:50 PMNov 20, 2019 1:12 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Michael Tobis is to be applauded for being open to the idea of geoengineering, but he's delusional if he thinks the climate activist community is also open to it. In my post yesterday, I argued that, for climate activists,

any discussion of climate adaptation is an unwelcome distraction from the debate at hand on mitigation. Why there isn't room for both discussions to occur beats me.

Tobis says this is a RPJr-ism and

really a very half-baked way of thinking about the [climate] problem. Forcing things under that rubric is simply a distortion.

Now I have no idea what an RPJr-ism is, much less whether I'm guilty of such a thing. Perhaps Tobis or one of Roger's fans in the climate activist community can define this term for me? But to the matter at hand, let me direct Tobis back to the same quote from 2020Science that he references. It's a commentary on the recent Royal Society report on geoengineering, and this is the response that 2020Science predicted (emphasis added):

I suspect that, like most climate change-related reports these days, "Geoengineering the climate: Science, governance and uncertainty" will have ideologues on both sides of the aisle up in arms. It dares to consider the option of actively engineering the climate on a planetary scale to curb the impacts of global warming, and advocates further research into geoengineering. In doing so, it will no doubt simultaneously enrage deniers of anthropogenic climate change, and those who fervently maintain that technological fixes are not the solution to the consequences of humanity's excesses.

To my mind, 2020Science accurately framed what David Roberts at Grist is railing against in this post. True, Roberts is responding specifically to the silly Branson statement, but the dismissive attitude Roberts expresses towards geoengineering is evident:

The idea that sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere will save us is akin to the hope that a math equation can be solved by erasing one of the numbers.

Now maybe at some point Roberts will write another post discussing why he believes geoengineering should at least be on the table as part of the suite of mitigation & adaptation measures. Until then, I'm sticking with my contention that his approach to the climate change problem reflects that of the climate activist community at large--which is generally dismissive of technological fixes and any discussion of adaptation. That is the true zero sum game at hand.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.