Should we try to cool the Earth?

By Erin Lale

With the recent record-breaking temperatures, the climate change debate is heating up again. This debate has often been framed as a debate about scientific facts. In the 1970s, people believed in global cooling. After that came global warming. When academic climate modelers and professional weathermen came down on opposite sides of the question, people started calling it climate change. The question became: Is the Earth’s climate changing? Asking the question that way was an attempt to force those who opposed climate legislation into the untenable position of attempting to prove that the Earth’s weather has remained in a static state for the past 100 years, which is obviously false. The question is ridiculous; of course the climate is changing. The climate has been changing since long before human beings walked on the Earth. The real question is, “Should people try to change the Earth’s climate on purpose?”

The history of human attempts to alter their physical environment to achieve a desirable goal is not pretty. Rabbits were deliberately introduced to Australia. A later generation built a fence across the whole continent to keep them at bay, and when that didn’t work, they deliberately introduced waves of disease. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent one century straightening waterways to make them more navigable, and the next century putting them back the way they were to prevent flooding. One generation’s proud project to drain nasty swamps became the next generation’s struggle to restore wetlands to filter fresh water, provide wildlife habit, and prevent erosion from washing the land into the sea. The European wild boar was intentionally introduced into California for sport hunting only to become an agricultural pest that farmers pay hunters to remove from their vineyards. Salt cedar and tamarisk were deliberately planted by early environmentalists for erosion control and are now being laboriously hand-removed by a new generation of environmentalists to restore native habitat. The U.S.A.’s ban on hemp farming contributes to deforestation as trees are used for paper that could have been made from hemp. In an attempt to find a suitable replacement for illegal hemp, farmers introduced invasive kudzu to America on purpose. Suppression of small fires in national forests both interrupts the life cycle of fire-dependent species and leads to mega wildfires that destroy instead of restore. Scientists trying to study the effects on animals of a possible future nuclear war under laboratory conditions created killer bees, which escaped all over and have proven impossible to fully exterminate. Westerners put in charge of environmental preservation on the island of Komodo forbade the natives from practicing a religious custom of feeding the Komodo Dragons, resulting in the hungry dragons eating people.

With this history in mind, should we not find it alarming that scientists full of good intentions are seeking funding from global elites for a scientific project to build an Earth-cooling device on the ocean floor? The world’s governments and major environmental organizations have wisely chosen to focus on slowing down industry, buying land to keep natural, cleaning up pollution, saving animals, and so forth, rather than engaging in projects to deliberately alter Earth’s climate on a massive scale, because the political process keeps enormously expensive projects with dubious benefits for the citizenry in check. That would not stop the super rich from funding their own projects out in the ocean, far from the supervision of governments or their people. There are a number of different projects in search of a wealthy backer who can be convinced he is saving the Earth from global warming. The ocean cooling device is just one of them. Another such proposal involves seeding the atmosphere with light blocking particles to deliberately cause a ‘nuclear winter’ phenomenon that would keep some sunlight from hitting the Earth, thus cooling the planet. This is the same phenomenon that climate scientists blame for the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The history of deliberate alterations to the environment is a tale of human arrogance followed by regret, loss, and costly and unsuccessful attempts at mitigation. If we have learned our lesson, humanity will not proceed with any such project to cool the Earth. If we do, in another generation we may be wondering: Where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?

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