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150 episodes on from our first show on geoengineering, we return to the topic with a pair of recent speeches from academics. In our second hour, an hour long speech by Clive Hamilton, author of "Earthmasters - Playing God with the climate". To set the scene we begin with a recent talk on education by professor Stephen Gough.
Thanks to the University of Bath podcast series for the Stephen Gough talk, and thanks to the University of Syndey Podcasts series for the talk by Clive Hamilton.
We begin with a lecture entitled "Is Education Unnatural?", given on 19 Jun 2013 by Professor Stephen Gough. He begins by reviewing a series of contrasting definitions of education. Next he looks at what we mean by 'natural', reviewing Lamarck's ideas of evolution. Examining different ideas of adaptability and resilience, Gough tells some sad stories such as how humans drove the moa extinct, the population collapse on Easter Island due to deforestation and (again following Jared Diamond) the extinction of the 10th century Greenland Norse due to climate change. What are the relative virtues of seeking an internal adaptability, a tolerance of changing environmental conditions, as against preventing such changing conditions by extending an ever tighter control over our surroundings? Gough concludes that human beings' "ecological resilience" a form of education which whilst acknowledging the value of scientific knowledge, is just as cognizant of its limits.
"In recent years, there has been a flurry of patents taken out of methods to engineer the climate. One of them, patented in the US, is so broad that if enforceable it would place fertilization of the oceans in the hands of one man. So we are approaching a situation in which international efforts to protect humanity from climate disaster could depend on whether or not one company wants to sell its intellectual property." — Clive Hamilton
In our second hour, Clive Hamilton investigates the idea of ‘technofixes’ to the issue of global warming. While he does outline some chemical mechanisms of the most popular schemes, his focus is not the technical details but the bigger picture of who is suggesting the various schemes and what we can deduce about the real motives of these schemes' proponents. He opines that climate engineering without a cut in carbon emissions would be "disastrous", concluding his presentation as follows:
"Within the next decade, we will be compelled to take a stance on geoengineering... Managing the climate - one way or another - is humanity's great challenge for the 21st century. Just how confident are we that we can use technology to take control of and regulate the biggest and most complex ecosystem of them all?" — Clive Hamilton