“People get themselves all balled up into knots over whether [geoengineering] can be done unilaterally or by one group or one nation. Well, guess what. We decide to do much worse than this every day, and we decide unilaterally. We are polluting the earth unilaterally. Whether it’s life-taking decisions, like wars, or something like a trade embargo, the world is about people taking action, not agreeing to take action.”
Nathan Myhrvold, an early engineer at Microsoft and now a venture capitalist in geoengineering firms. Geoengineering is an attempt to deliberately change the Earth’s climate to avert a disaster like global warming. Until this point, all talk of geoengineering has been theoretical or academic - that is, until Russ George took action this past summer. He revealed that he dumped 100 tons of iron sulfate into the Pacific Ocean, triggering an algal bloom greater than 10,000 square miles. George’s rationale is that blooms can sequester CO2 from the air and eventually trap it deep in the ocean. However, George has come under intense criticism from the scientific community, and he likely broke international and UN laws. However, the existence of the technology and the people willing to deploy it to combat climate change means that unilateral geoengineering projects may become more often, and we’re going to have to figure out some way to address it.
UPDATE - Just a few minutes after writing this post, I read an NPR article about a geoengineering project in Greenland and the cold reception it’s received from climate scientists. Check it out.