Ice, On Ice

On an old thread at RealClimate, Onar Åm proposed pumping ocean water onto Antarctica to counteract sea level rise, and roughly calculated an energy cost of 35 GW to offset a 30cm rise over 100 years. (World energy usage is estimated at 1500 GW.) I have not seen this idea anywhere else. It sounds too good to be true. Is it reasonable? How far could we push it if we had cheap futuristic energy? As just one example, apparently it would take only about a 30m sea level drop to liberate Doggerland from its fascist oppressor of several millennia. By that time, I guess one worry is where you put all the extra ice.

Lovelockian Horrors

Just passing this on for humor value:

But he fears we won’t invent the necessary technologies in time, and expects “about 80%” of the world’s population to be wiped out by 2100. Prophets have been foretelling Armageddon since time began, he says. “But this is the real thing.”

Interviewers often remark upon the discrepancy between Lovelock’s predictions of doom, and his good humour. “Well I’m cheerful!” he says, smiling. “I’m an optimist. It’s going to happen.”

Humanity is in a period exactly like 1938-9, he explains, when “we all knew something terrible was going to happen, but didn’t know what to do about it”. But once the second world war was under way, “everyone got excited, they loved the things they could do, it was one long holiday … so when I think of the impending crisis now, I think in those terms. A sense of purpose – that’s what people want.”

Underinvesting in Knowledge

Bjørn Lomborg, in an interview about his new book Cool It, says:

It’s about research and development and I specifically propose we invest 0.05 percent of GDP in research and development in non-carbon-emitting energy technologies — this could be wind, solar, you name it. There are many different opportunities. The idea is, it’s 10 times cheaper than Kyoto. It’s likely going to be maybe 100 times cheaper than the follow-up to Kyoto, which is going to be negotiated in my home town, Copenhagen in 2009. And yet it’s a 10-fold increase in the research and development that we commit right now to these issues. So it is one that is doable, it is politically feasible and it is smart. In the long term, it will likely do much more good than Kyoto or son of Kyoto will ever do – and it will actually have the affect in the long term to halt global warming.

Is Lomborg right? Does society underinvest that badly in research and development? Knowledge is a classic public good, but you would also expect greater investment there by governments and charities to have a natural base of supporters.