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Ashland Perspective: Climate Change – A Paradigm Shift

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Ashland Perspective: Climate Change – A Paradigm Shift

By Alan Journet Ph.D., President & Co-Facilitator of SOCAN

As the pollution clock ticks, the dire straits in which we find ourselves becomes more obvious. If we accept the conventional wisdom that a 2⁰C (3.6⁰F) increase must be our upper limit, we realize that our budget for greenhouse gas pollution is tightening. At the current rate of accelerating emissions we will exhaust our pollution budget before today’s one year old toddlers reach voting age.

There is no doubt that by polluting our atmosphere we have conducted a huge engineering experiment that is returning to bite us. In its fifth assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, among other entities, raised a question about whether we should consider technology as a way of buying time on our way to a completely non-carbon based energy economy.

Two technological approaches have been suggested:
1) Solar Radiation Management involving reflecting incoming radiation back out into space, and

2) Carbon Dioxide Removal by which we capture and store this atmospheric gas.

Volcanic eruptions are a natural example of the former while trees are natural example of the latter.

The catch is, unless we have a calm and rational discussion about the technological potential and drawbacks of these alternative approaches, we are likely to be confronted by a national or global climate disaster that induces mass panic and an ill-considered technological response.

The next SOCAN Special Topic discussion will feature Dr. Kevin Downing, Consulting Geologist from Yreka, CA who will lead a discussion of the available technological options. Dr. Downing will stimulate discussion of the costs and benefits of potential approaches.

Previewing the program, Dr. Downing stated: “The accord signed by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China on November 11th, 2014 must be the last indication to us that we need a paradigm shift in our thinking about humanity’s addiction to carbon and resultant climate change. Even if this accord were followed, the global climate changes well documented in scientific papers will continue. We must begin thinking in terms of how we live with our addiction. Energy conservation has to be a part of this policy, but we also need to think about Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and Solar Radiation Management (SRM). Climate Engineering (Geoengineering), should be discussed more broadly than currently; the results of scientific research into these techniques need to be discussed in a global forum.”

Next Southern Oregon Climate Action Now Special Topic and General Meeting, Tuesday January 27th 6:00 – 7:30 pm. No charge, everyone welcome.