Supporters of geoengineering have proposed radical ways to alter the planet to decrease the level of greenhouse gas emissions. Proposals include creating artificial volcanoes to pollute the atmosphere with sulfur particles, fertilizing the oceans and placing sun-deflecting aluminum foil in the sky. But opposition is growing to geoengineering. We host a debate between Indian environmentalist, scientist, philosopher and eco-feminist, Vandana Shiva, and geopolitical analyst and columnist, Gwynne Dyer.
VANDANA SHIVA: Well, three thoughts. The first is, it is the idea of being able to engineer our lives on this very fragile and complex and interrelated and interconnected planet that’s created the mess we are in. It’s an engineering paradigm that created the fossil fuel age that gave us climate change. And Einstein warned us and said you can’t solve problems with the same mindset that created them. Geo-engineering is trying to solve the problems of the same, old mindset of controlling nature. And the phrase that was used, of cheating, let’s cheat-you can’t cheat nature. That’s something people should recognize by now. There is no cheating possible. Eventually the laws of Gaia determine the final outcome. But I think the second thing about geo-engineering is, we’ve just had the volcano in Iceland, yes it was Iceland. And look at the collapse of the economy. And here are scientists thinking that’s a solution? Because they are thinking in a one dimensional way. Linear issue of global warming, anything to do with global cooling. I work on ecological agriculture. We need that sun light for photosynthesis. The geoengineers don’t realize sunshine is not a curse on the planet. The sun is not the problem, the problem is the mess of pollution we are creating. So again we can’t cheat.
And the final issue is, that these shortcuts that are attempted from places of power, and I would add places of ignorance, of the ecological web of life, are then creating the war solution because geo-engineering becomes war on a planetary scale with ignorance and blind spots, instead of taking the real path, which is helping communities adapt and become resilient. That’s the work we do in India. We save the seeds that will be able to deal with sea level rise or cyclones so that we have soil tolerant varieties; we distributed them after the tsunami. Last year we had a monsoon failure. But instead of sending armies out, we distributed seeds. And the farmers who had seeds of millets had a crop. The farmers who were waiting for the green revolution chemical cultivation had a crop failure. So building resilience and building adaptation is the human response, it’s the ecological response. And we don’t have to panic. The panic and fear is coming out of ignorance.
AMY GOODMAN: Gwynne Dyer, defined and defend geoengineering and tell us which governments are engaging in it.
GWYNNE DYER: First of all, Vandana and I agree on about 95%.
VANDANA SHIVA:-We agree about the problem, that there is a problem.
GWYNNE DYER: Yes, we agree about the problem, and I don’t disagree with any of her solutions. But I do not think they’re going to happen in time if we do not intervene directly as well to avoid a massive human dieback in population. We are heading for the brink very fast.
VANDANA SHIVA: But your solutions commit the planet to a massive dieback.
GWYNNE DYER: I don’t agree with you.-Holding the temperature down is an intervention. It is an intervention that’s intended to be temporary, it wins you time to get your emissions down. The goal is still to get it emissions down. Many of the other goals you and I agree upon are attainable, but only with time, and we don’t have the time. We’re going to be-the last report out of Hadley Center suggested on the current track, we are four degrees Celsius hotter, average global temperature by 2016, that’s only 50 years.