Reunion Smalltalk – How Will You Survive Global Warmng

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change at 8:42 pm

Time flies at this time of year . . . finals, graduations, weddings, reunions. I had the pleasure of attending my college reunion. One of the real pleasures of attending a reunion of geeks and geekettes is the lack of pre-reunion angst. As I happily stressed over my daughter’s graduation outfit we continually tripped over mothers agonizing over their reunion outfit. I briefly made a note to self to put getting an outfit on my to-do list and forgot about it. Sure enough, people turned up in everything from jeans and t-shirts to cocktail dresses. What is the point of putting all that effort in graduating from Geek Tech if you can’t get some benefit down the line?

Global Warming, Resource Allocation, Recycling …

This is not to say geeks don’t enjoy angst with their reunions. We spent a lot of time discussing global warming, resource allocation and recycling. We listened to official tales of the need to price resources – specifically fuel – to take into account the full cost of the resource from the time it is produced until all the health impacts are dealt with.

It is 5 times cheaper to light a light bulb with coal in China than to use oil or natural gas. If we can’t convince developing countries of the need to tax dirty fuels now to pay for their health costs down the line, how can we ever expect them to use expensive cleaner fuels or technologies?

Individual stories of the fights with contractors to get them to recycle things like copper from renovations when there are already signs there is a thriving black market in looters stripping copper from newer buildings.

If a contractor can’t be bothered to separate recyclables does one invite a looter to go dumpster diving? Do you get legal releases first?

And the winning campfire story is . . .

My favorite discussion was with a gentlemen very actively involved in creating technologies to remove carbon dioxide emissions from a coal plant and lock them up in the sea or ground (carbon sequestration). Everyone has a back-pocket plan in case the environment really does become toast, but his was a doozy. (As you may have noticed, I favor the US northeast becoming warmer until the Gulf Stream stops, at which point it gets colder. Planting victory gardens and nut trees will help us pull through. Probable chances of this scenario actually occurring – under 10%.)

His scenario called for the world getting hotter (it’s kind of hard to start anywhere else) then having all the forests die off. Bummer. However mushrooms will grow on dead wood. A steady diet of truffles? How bad could it be?
OK. So dead wood is prone to forest fires. Any place we’ve reseeded to cope with the warmer temperatures gets hit shortly thereafter with a nuclear winter created by the soot from the forest fires. So now what do we eat? How about worms? Well – maybe feed worms to chickens and we eat the eggs.

One does hope this is the scenario he pulls out when looking for funding for his carbon sequestration project.

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