Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Summa Technologiae, Or Why The Trouble With Science Is Religion

Technoprogressive Declaration - Transvision 2014

Transhumanism: A Glimpse into the Future of Humanity

Brain, Mind, and the Structure of Reality

How America’s Obsession With Bad Birth Control Hurts and Even Kills Women

A decade of uncertainty in nanoscale science and engineering


ieet books

Virtually Human: The Promise—-and the Peril—-of Digital Immortality
Author
Martine Rothblatt


comments

instamatic on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 21, 2014)

Peter Wicks on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 21, 2014)

instamatic on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 20, 2014)

Peter Wicks on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 20, 2014)

instamatic on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 20, 2014)

Michael Nuschke on 'What is Technoprogressivism?' (Nov 19, 2014)

@andy00778 on 'Does Religion Cause More Harm than Good? Brits Say Yes. Here’s Why They May be Right.' (Nov 19, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Why Running Simulations May Mean the End is Near
Nov 3, 2014
(20416) Hits
(13) Comments

Does Religion Cause More Harm than Good? Brits Say Yes. Here’s Why They May be Right.
Nov 18, 2014
(18966) Hits
(1) Comments

2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?
Oct 26, 2014
(14487) Hits
(33) Comments

Decentralized Money: Bitcoin 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0
Nov 10, 2014
(8525) Hits
(1) Comments



IEET > Security > Resilience > Life > Access > Vision > Futurism > Affiliate Scholar > Seth Baum

Print Email permalink (0) Comments (2939) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Double catastrophe: Intermittent stratospheric geoengineering induced by societal collapse


Seth Baum
By Seth Baum
sethbaum.com

Posted: Jan 6, 2013

Perceived failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has prompted interest in avoiding the harms of climate change via geoengineering, that is, the intentional manipulation of Earth system processes. Perhaps, the most promising geoengineering technique is stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), which reflects incoming solar radiation, thereby lowering surface temperatures.


A global catastrophe scenario involving climate change, geoengineering, and a separate catastrophe.


This paper analyzes a scenario in which SAI brings great harm on its own. The scenario is based on the issue of SAI intermittency, in which aerosol injection is halted, sending temperatures rapidly back toward where they would have been without SAI. The rapid temperature increase could be quite damaging, which in turn creates a strong incentive to avoid intermittency. In the scenario, a catastrophic societal collapse eliminates society's ability to continue SAI, despite the incentive. The collapse could be caused by a pandemic, nuclear war, or other global catastrophe. The ensuing intermittency hits a population that is already vulnerable from the initial collapse, making for a double catastrophe. While the outcomes of the double catastrophe are difficult to predict, plausible worst-case scenarios include human extinction. The decision to implement SAI is found to depend on whether global catastrophe is more likely from double catastrophe or from climate change alone. The SAI double catastrophe scenario also strengthens arguments for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and against SAI, as well as for building communities that could be self-sufficient during global catastrophes. Finally, the paper demonstrates the value of integrative, systems-based global catastrophic risk analysis.


Non-Technical Summary: pdf version

Background: Global Catastrophic Risk Systems Analysis
Global catastrophic risks are risks of events that would significantly harm or even destroy humanity at the global scale, such as climate change, nuclear war, and pandemics. To date, most research on global catastrophes analyzes one risk at a time. A better approach uses systems analysis to capture the many important interactions between risks. This paper analyzes a global catastrophe scenario involving climate change, geoengineering, and another catastrophe. We call the scenario "double catastrophe".

Climate Change & Stratospheric Geoengineering
The rising temperatures of global climate change pose great risks to humanity and ecosystems. Climate change can be slowed by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. But humanity has been struggling to reduce emissions. One alternative is geoengineering, the intentional manipulation of Earth systems. The most promising geoengineering option may be stratospheric geoengineering, in which aerosol particles are put into the stratosphere. The particles block sunlight, lowering temperatures on Earth's surface.

Intermittency & Double Catastrophe
One problem with stratospheric geoengineering, known as intermittency, is that the particles must be continuously replaced in the stratosphere. If they're not, then in a few years they fall out, and temperatures rapidly rise back to where they would have been without the geoengineering. The rapid temperature increase would be very damaging to society. Because of this, society is unlikely to let intermittency occur � unless some other catastrophe occurs, knocking out society's ability to continue the geoengineering. Then, the rapid temperature increase hits a population already vulnerable from the initial catastrophe. This double catastrophe could be a major global catastrophe.

Implications For Decision Making
Because of how damaging global catastrophes would be to human civilization, decision making is often oriented towards minimizing the risk of global catastrophe. Stratospheric geoengineering can prevent global catastrophe from climate change alone, but it can also lead to global catastrophe from the double catastrophe scenario. If global catastrophe is more likely from climate change alone, then society should decide to implement stratospheric geoengineering. Otherwise, society is better off without stratospheric geoengineering. This assumes (among other things) that the goal should be minimizing global catastrophic risk and that stratospheric geoengineering is the best form of geoengineering.


System diagram of the double catastrophe scenario.

Seth D. Baum, Timothy M. Maher, Jr., and Jacob Haqq-Misra. "Double catastrophe: Intermittent stratospheric geoengineering induced by societal collapse". Environment, Systems and Decisions, forthcoming.

Pre-print: Click here to view a full pre-print of the article (pdf).

* Blog discussions at Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, Overcoming Bias

 


Seth Baum(http://sethbaum.com) is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute (http://gcrinstitute.org). He received a PhD in Geography from Pennsylvania State University and was recently a post-doc with Columbia University's Center for Research on Environmental Decisions.
Print Email permalink (0) Comments (2940) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: GMOs: The Future Of Food

Previous entry: Awesome Slam Poetry about Technology

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376