The message from the World Economic Forum is loud and clear: we're heading for trouble if we fall back on geo-engineering to save us from global warming.
A major drawback to geo-engineering technologies is that there is no "one size fits all" option. One country may need more water. In another corner of the globe other countries may want less water or less sunshine or cooler skies. Geo-engineering is sort of like moving one's food around on the plate. The hash browns still wind up somewhere. In other words, geo-engineering can export crises from one part of the planet to another. It truly is robbing Peter to pay Paul and some military experts believe it could be the road to war.
The deployment of independent, large-scale "geoengineering"
techniques aimed at averting dangerous warming warrants more research
because it could lead to an international crisis with unpredictable
costs to agriculture, infrastructure and global stability, said the
Geneva-based WEF in its annual Global Risks report before the Davos
economic summit later this month. It also warned that ongoing economic weakness is sapping the ability of governments to tackle the growing threat of climate change.
global climate could, in effect, be hijacked. For example, an island
state threatened with rising sea levels may decide they have nothing to
lose, or a well-funded individual with good intentions may take matters
into their own hands," the report notes. It said there are "signs that
this is already starting to occur", highlighting the case of a story broken by the Guardian
involving the dumping of 100 tonnes of iron sulphate off the Canadian
coast in 2012, in a bid to spawn plankton and capture carbon.
top two global risks identified for the WEF by more than 1,000 business
leaders and experts were the growing wealth gap between rich and poor
and a major financial economic crisis. But the next three on the list of
50 were environmental, including climate change, and water and food
...The authors fear that climate change could become a centre of
litigation. "Although the Alaskan village of Kivalina – which faces
being "wiped out" by the changing climate – was unsuccessful in its attempts to file a $400m lawsuit against oil and coal companies,
future plaintiffs may be more successful. Five decades ago, the US
tobacco industry would not have suspected that in 1997 it would agree to
pay $368bn in health-related damages. For some businesses, investing in
climate change mitigation now could be as much about enterprise risk
management as about mitigating a global risk."
Wait a second. Does that mean that Canada, even Alberta perhaps, could wind up facing mega-billion dollar liability claims for their role in facilitating the exploitation of heavy-carbon bitumen? What if?