Bryan Caplan  

Will Iceland's Volcano Boost Geoengineering?

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When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, I don't think I even heard about it.  But this one event depressed global temperatures by about 1 degree Fahrenheit.  Given all the attention the latest volcano's getting, I thought the predicted effect might be comparable.  Apparently not:

Cataclysmic eruptions, led by Pinatubo and Mount Chichon in Mexico in 1982 in the 20th century, spewed so much debris into the upper atmosphere that they cooled the planet for months, briefly offsetting the effect of industrial heat-trapping gases.

"This is not like Pinatubo. So far the scale is not big enough to have a global effect," said Hans Olav Hygen, a climate researcher at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

Still, since politics is about perceptions, not facts, it wouldn't surprise me if the eruption gave geoengineering another boost.  Your guess?

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
mdb writes:

The hubris required to believe you can control the American economy pales in comparison to the hubris required to favor "engineering" the climate.

What are the variables? What are the unintended consequences? How easy will it be to roll back (is it even possible to go back to the original state)?

The blind faith in the "elites" that is required to support geo-engineering is astounding.

Whoever writes:

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Gavin Andresen writes:

If people equate geoengineering with dirty, gritty, ugly volcanic ash that screws up their travel plans, then this eruption will be a setback for geoengineering.

It won't matter that actual geoengineering would be much tidier and less disruptive.

My guesses: Europeans will be much more wary of geoengineering. I doubt the rest of the world's opinions will change one way or the other.

But the eruption will be used by environmentalists as a post-hoc explanation for why global temperatures are at or below the bottom of all the climate models' estimates.

kevin writes:

We definitely shouldn't start geoengineering anytime soon. I suspect we'll have the capability to cheaply remove carbon from the atmosphere in a less than 50 years anyway.

Boonton writes:

I'm all for it. I'd like to move the science forward by tossing some of the commentators here as well as some of the bloggers into the volcano to see if we can induce the gods below to keep erupting and counter global warming. Where do we donate money?!

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