Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Can we resolve climate change the way we put a human on the moon?

This is, with a dedicated national effort?

John Schwartz, We Went to the Moon. Why Can’t We Solve Climate Change?, NYTimes, July 19, 2019.
In 1970, Dr. Logsdon wrote a book, “The Decision to Go to the Moon,” that laid out four conditions that made Apollo possible. In the case of the space program, the stimulus was the first human spaceflight of the Russian cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin, which filled Americans with dread of losing the space race. In an interview, Dr. Logsdon said it has to be “a singular act that would force action, that you couldn’t ignore.” Other moon shot prerequisites, he said, include leaders in a position to direct the resources necessary to meet the goal on “a warlike basis,” with very deep national pockets — people like President Kennedy, who began the program, and Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, who brought it to fruition.

Finally, Dr. Logsdon said, “the objective has to be technically feasible.” Scientists and engineers had told Mr. Kennedy that “there were no technical show stoppers in sending humans to the moon — it would just take a hell of a lot of engineering.”
Hmmm... A clear objective that's technically feasible, that's tough.
And the moon shot had a clearly defined goal: Land on the moon. A finish line for fighting climate change is less clear. Back to 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
Nor is the problem merely technical; it is a matter of will and desire too.
If we did choose once again to do an important thing because it is hard, the task ahead would be more than technical, said Hal Harvey, chief executive of the research firm Energy Innovation. The deceptively simple goal, he said, should be to “decarbonize electricity, and then electrify everything.” That would involve building up renewable energy and dropping electrical generation from fossil fuel plants, and building up the use of technologies like heat pumps that can make home heating and cooling more efficient. China has invested heavily in electric buses, electric scooters, and other ways to stop burning fossil fuels. There are further advances in industrial processes and power systems engineering that will help, he said, ticking off a dizzying array of avenues that would allow society to reach those goals.

But mostly, he said, it will require a shift in national attitude.
H/t 3QD.

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