Terraforming And Geoengineering: A Climate Change Silver Bullet, Or Dormant Blowback?

    Planet Earth, (TFC)– Adaptive technologies have begun creeping into center stage recently in the global climate conversation. Some of those technologies are radical, however, and pose nagging questions. For instance, researchers now considering using geoengineering and terraforming to reverse CO2 emissions now explore the line between earth guardians and god players.

The UN-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently announced it’s condonment of terraforming. Simply put, humanity’s collective greenhouse emissions must staggeringly decline immediately. If this doesn’t happen, TVN reports, then warming may rack worldwide societies with unmanageable disasters.

It was recently predicted that the entire region of the middle east will be uninhabitable for humans if trends continue. Resources may eventually become so scarce that regional wars over water and mass migrations may ensue. If you think the world’s refugee crisis is bad now, then the future may make today look like journeyman tourism.

So-called “green technology” appears to serve a background purpose–harmonizing our coexistence with the earth. They urge us against tainting our atmosphere, the destruction of the lungs of our planet, and towards conservation ocean life. Global terraforming projects, which involve manipulating the land, might get us more in that mind set. From the obvious planting of trees, to the more exotic concept of CO2 sponges.

These devices suck greenhouse gases from the air, but only at a fraction of what’s needed. According to True Viral News, C02 sponges would have to be deployed worldwide, intern requiring massive levels of cooperation. Whatever the cost financially, or on our prides and ideologies, if such methods aren’t employed we will cross the red line. The whole point of the Paris climate summit was to organize against warming the planet more than two degrees Celsius. We’re currently at around 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is already more than we’d like. Two degree’s Celsius is the red line, and crossing it may be unimaginable.

Of course, every technology has it’s kinks. Even final products from phones, to video games, to cars sometimes have to be “patched” post-distribution. That rule means humanity needs to tackle these technologies, and others, right now!

Determining how much CO2 is being collected by plants and trapped by the oceans can be difficult, TVN reports. Methods of sucking greenhouse gases from the air can become inefficient over time, creating their own environmental issues. Studies have also shown less CO2 can lead to stunted plant growth, theoretically affecting agriculture sensitive to climate change.

A piece in Scientific American also points out the fact that tools can be abused. It was written by Scientific American contributing editor David Biello, who’s covered environmental topics since 1999. He points out that nuclear engineers–for example–can either make lasting power plants or hellish weapons. Although terraforming and geoengineering may seem pure now, it may adversely change “humanity’s relationship to nature.”

Biello references a October 1st 1946 New York Times headline: “Sarnoff Predicts Weather Control”. In it, then Brig. Gen. David Sarnoff brainstormed on possible projects to be pursued during peacetime. One of his more out-there idea’s was to diverge ocean currents to transmute deserts into lush gardens. Sarnoff envisioned humanity having the ability to reverse these changes at will, if war were to return. Of course, critics quickly pointed out how easily such technologies could be abused by special interests. Some suggested that coat manufacturers would encourage wetter weather to plug profits, as an example.

According to Scientific American, the idea of terraforming is actually quite old. Biello references Greek mythology as a testament to how ancient mankind’s fascination with manipulating nature is. Native American’s occasionally made use of terraforming projects, for agricultural or spiritual reasons.

Indigenous cultures, however, viewed their relationship with the land differently than Sarnoff’s culture and generation. Idea’s of “owning” land largely didn’t exist in ancient native cultures. Instead, they respected the land and saw themselves as caretakers in some capacity. In other words, they could terraform without questioning the possibility that conglomerate entities may abuse their projects. Their value systems and moral hierarchies wouldn’t allow for it.

Fears and suspicions that western culture will abuse terraforming technology are warranted. However, those may quickly evaporate if respect is established. Such destructive habits could be diluted if indigenous peoples worldwide were properly represented in climate discussions. Such an inclusion  necessary regardless of whether terraforming specifically will be utilized. Even in the historic Paris talks, indigenous populations weren’t represented despite how affected by climate change they are.

A renaissance in psychedelic curiosity in western science also parallels this conversation of climate change responses. Psychedelic experiences are notorious for their boundary dissolving, connection establishing, humbling effects. Such experiences are treasured and utilized in indigenous cultures, while the west scoffs and forbids them.

The late Terrance Mckenna pointed this out often, believing psychedelics to be one of the only sure-fire ways for western culture to change. “They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong”, he said, speaking to why psychedelics are illegal. McKenna also spent large amounts of time around indigenous shaman’s, with whom he’s exchanged idea’s. “Nature is not our enemy”, he once said, “to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored.”

 “Western civilization is a loaded gun pointed to the head of this planet.” Any response to climate change must be multi-faceted, creative, and the result of a massive cooperative effort by humanity. “If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan”, McKenna once said.

That “somebody else” in this case happens to be climate trends which human activities are contributing to. Breaking free of that cycle proves difficult with the current level of ideological pushback against climate change conversation. Terrance, as he so often did, expressed this conflict well, and how to overcome it. “The problem is not to find the answer, the problem is to face the answer.”