The environmentalist movement believes that unless immediate and drastic measures are taken to combat global warming, “disease, desolation and famine” are “inevitable” on a scale that might spell the end of life on earth, making earth “as hot as Venus.” Surely, such an apocalyptic threat demands immediate action. Given the resistance to curtailing industrial production (not to mention the economic destruction and mass death that such a curtailment would entail), environmentalists should eagerly supports experiments that attempt to compensate rather than eliminate the impact of industry on the environment.
In fact, a number of relatively simple, low-cost measures have been proposed by scientists and entrepreneurs, one of which is documented in the June 2008 issue of Popular Science (PDF). As early as 1988, oceanographers proposed seeding the oceans with iron, which would cause an algae bloom that could rapidly compensate for the entire effect of industrial civilization for far less money that it would cost to eliminate CO2 emissions. Seeding experiments by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have demonstrated that the technique works, although further experimentation is required. A number of entrepreneurs, such as Russ George of Planktos Corp (TED video) stepped forward to carry out the required work.
How would you expect environmental groups to react to such an opportunity? If you guessed outright or even cautious optimism, you would be dead wrong. “I don’t think any quick geo-engineering fixes are going to work,” said one Greenpeace scientist. “There are only two ways that we’re going to solve climate change: reduce the amount of energy that we use and dramatically change the methods we use to generate it.” According to Scientific American, environmental groups were essentially united in the belief that “if society relies on quick techno-fixes to ameliorate global warming … people will stop putting in the hard work necessary to cut carbon emissions.”
Think about what that statement means. “Hard work” means government coercion to destroy the industrial production that feeds (sometimes barely) a rapidly growing human population. “Quick engineering fix” means a fast, cheap, technological solution that allows us to have our cake (the wealthy, healthy life that industry makes possible) and eat it too (literally, algae eating CO2). Notice that their objection is not that iron seeding won’t work, but that it eliminates the incentive to destroy industrial civilization.
As the article make clear, environmentalists are violently opposed to even exploring any measure that attempts to neutralize the “threat” of global warming rather than deal with the cause. Lies and intimidation are integral to the movement: the terrorist group Sea Shepherd, which has sunk nine ships since 1979, threatened any future seeding experiments, their PR machine used fear of nanotechnology to claim that iron ore (plain rust) is “engineered nanoparticles,” while their political branch got the Spanish government to ban seeding on the grounds that it constitutes “toxic waste” dumping.
As should be clear by now, environmentalism is not actually opposed to global warming – ending the “threat” posed by global warming is the last thing on their agenda. Their real goal is to use the global warming scare to bully the developed world into reverting into the pre-industrial, pre-civilized age. They oppose viable alternative energy sources for the same reason that they oppose viable fixes to the crises they invent – they oppose nuclear energy, hydro power, and they are organizing to oppose wind power just as it has become viable. If solar panels ever become viable, they will certainly invent reasons to oppose them too.
(Note that I am not actually advocating iron ore seeding. I am not convinced that the climate is warming as rapidly as claimed, or that CO2 is the cause, and even it is, it is likely that higher CO2 levels and a warmer climate offer tremendous benefits to both plant and animal life. If anything, we should be encouraging measures that make our world greener and more comfortable.)