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Geoengineering is NOT free-riding on our grandkids

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posted on Jun, 4 2011 @ 12:24 PM
There's a quote going around, attributed to scientist David Keith, when he was discussing geoengineering. A quote that got injected into the blogosphere by the film "What in the World are they Spraying", and then unfortunately repeated over and over, increasingly shorted and out of context.

it's not really a moral hazard, it's more like free riding on our grandkids.

The implication here is that he suggesting that geoengineering now is free-riding on our grandkids, because they will have to deal with the results of geoengineering.

The quote is real, but in fact, it means the exact opposite to the above.

What he's saying, if you are familiar with his talk, which he's given several times, is that the "free-riding" is what will result if we DO NOTHING about global climate change. More specifically he's saying that the major risk of discussing geoengineering as a possible solution to our climate problems is that it will give people a false sense to security. People won't want to address climate change via carbon reduction or other means, because they will think "oh, the scientists will be able to fix that in the future, with that geoengineering".

Here's the TED version of the talk:

And here's what he said about the "moral hazard"

But maybe on that day we also find that the Greenland ice sheet is really melting unacceptably fast, fast enough to put meters of sea level on the oceans in the next 100 years, and remove some of the biggest cities from the map. That's an absolutely possible scenario. We might decide at that point that even though geo-engineering was uncertain and morally unhappy, that it's a lot better than not geo-engineering.

And that's a very different way to look at the problem. It's using this as risk control, not instead of action. It's saying that you do some geo-engineering for a little while to take the worst of the heat off, not that you'd use it as a substitute for action.

But there is a problem with that view. And the problem is the following: knowledge that geo-engineering is possible makes the climate impacts look less fearsome. And that makes a weaker commitment to cutting emissions today. This is what economists call a moral hazard. And that's one of the fundamental reasons that this problem is so hard to talk about, and in general I think it's the underlying reason that it's been politically unacceptable to talk about this. But you don't make good policy by hiding things in a drawer.

I'll leave you with three questions, and then one final quote. Should we do serious research on this topic? Should we have a national research program that looks at this? Not just at how you would do it better, but also what all the risks and downsides of it are. Right now you have a few enthusiasts talking about it, some in a positive side, some in a negative side -- but that's a dangerous state to be in because there's very little depth of knowledge on this topic. A very small amount of money would get us some. Many of us -- maybe now me -- think we should do that. But I have a lot of reservations. My reservations are principally about the moral hazard problem, and I don't really know how we can best avoid the moral hazard.

So, he's saying he thinks people are avoid talking about it because of the "moral hazard", but that's a bad idea, because it's just burying your head in the sand. He thinks we should discuss and investigate geoengineering, because if the climate change problem is not addressed, then some very drastic steps might be required by our grandkids.

It's not an argument that's easy to sum up, which perhaps is why the quote is so easy to misinterpret. It is a very interesting talk, and well worth 16 minutes of your time, if you are at all interested in the subject of geoengineering.

posted on Jun, 4 2011 @ 06:15 PM
I never taught of it this way, it would be a good reason for not telling the public about geoengineering and chemtrails. Even so, it's not like carbon emission reduction is the first thing in the minds of most people. Even if people did stop to make additional efforts to reduce emissions, emissions would not jump up more then 1-2%.

Just another proof that everyone thinks that everyone else is stupid.
We should stop limiting society to the stupidest ones and start thinking that most people are not stupid.
We are ignorant because we have been conditioned that way.

posted on Jun, 4 2011 @ 06:26 PM
reply to post by User8911

It's no so much the public, it's more politicians and their mouthpieces. You could imagine Fox News saying something like "this scientist says we can stop global warming very cheaply in the future with geoengineering, so let's remove all current restrictions on carbon emissions." - that's the "moral hazard" in a nutshell.

I agree with Keith though, we can't sweep it under the rug. An open discussion and investigation is the way to go, so we don't let the problem get too far away from us. And if it's going to be geoengineering, then we have to proceed very carefully before actually trying anything.
edit on 4-6-2011 by Uncinus because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2011 @ 06:33 PM
Keith is right.

It seems to be a part of human nature to not do anything about anything unless it becomes absolutely necessary to act. And then the tendency is to do as little as possible in the least painful way possible. Geoengineering looks like something that that fits the bill so it's comforting to have as forth quarter option.

This can be seen as good reason to avoid discussing any form of geoengineering. It makes it too easy. Why do anything now when technology can save us if it gets really bad? I think that's a valid concern. But I don't agree that discussion of the subject should be avoided.

I agree with Keith, geoengineering must be on the table. That's the only way it can be explored in an open and balanced manner. There is a lot of research to be done before implementation can be even considered and that research should not be hindered by politics.

Dang it, you wrote that as I was writing this.
edit on 6/4/2011 by Phage because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2011 @ 08:20 PM
Looking for more info on Keith, I found this interesting new video from May 24th, 2011, of David Keith meeting with We Are Change Calgary

It's very long (1hr 45min), and I've only watched the first few minutes, but he's basically fielding all the questions that might get thrown at him on by the ATS chemtrail theorists.

So if you want to know what Keith REALLY thinks, watch this. So far it seem like he's handling it very politely.
edit on 4-6-2011 by Uncinus because: spelling

posted on Jun, 4 2011 @ 09:31 PM
reply to post by Uncinus

So another case of chemmies manufacturing false "evidence" - this time by misquoting?

posted on Jun, 5 2011 @ 11:55 AM
reply to post by Aloysius the Gaul

More just a misunderstanding, and gut reaction to what they think it means. I don't think this one is deliberate - but maybe there's a lack of interest in actually seeking out what it really means, as the initial interpretation seems to suit their narrative.

Anyway, Keith's position on geoengineering seems eminently sensible. And in the extended video above he's very honest and polite in the way he engages We Are Change Calgary.

posted on Jun, 9 2011 @ 12:01 PM
I emailed David Keith to ask him about the quote that was used in What in the World are they Spraying, and he replied:

On “Moral Hazard”, this is a technical point for economists. when you think carefully about the definition its clear that’s quite the right way to describe SRM [Solar Radiation Management], “free riding” another econ term that more accurately describes what we are doing when we don’t cut CO2 emissions. To be clear, I do mean “putting off addressing the problem of climate change is like free-riding on our grandkids”. It’s not that SRM is free riding, it’s that over enthusiasm about its potential may encourage less action to cut emissions.

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