This afternoon I attended a lecture by the Ambassador to the United States from the Netherlands, Mr. Christiaan Mark Johan Kröner, at the University of California, Berkeley. He lectured on the subject of global warming, melting icecaps, flooding lowlands and what needs to be done to cope with the ensuing problems.
He compared our local California Delta area to his home country and my ancestral homeland, the Netherlands, because both locations have large areas that are close to sea level. Even a small rise in sea level will have profound effects on both of them. Our audience seemed to be composed of professorial types from the Berkeley hills. These hills rise abruptly from the San Francisco Bay to those finer homes these professorial types tend to occupy some hundreds of feet above the sea. These hill people will not be having to cope with the possibility of permanent inundation. Certainly not in the same devastating way as all of the Dutch people will. The audience seemed to be responding to his very well presented, but ominous message in a quiet, academic, non-emotional, and abstract way.
The post lecture questions were mostly academic; either totally off-subject overly verbose political screeds, or totally within the topic details about how the Dutch are putting their fingers into the various dikes. There are quite a few interesting things the Dutch are doing, but all of it will be a very expensive waste of time, and money when the sea level rises very much, say anything over a meter.
CO2 seems to be the accepted cause of global warming and CO2 is quite high, and rising, and more is being pumped into the atmosphere at an increasing rate every day, and the increased temperature melts not only the floating polar ice packs, but more importantly the Greenland, Antarctic, and other glacial ice. The only reasonable conclusion is that the sea level will shoot right on past that one meter level. Then what?
The various international political solutions which are being implemented are aimed solely at reducing CO2. Most of these have a nice ten year time-line goal of reducing CO2 by some probably unattainable level, say reducing to 30% of the 1990 level by the year 2020. But even if that is attained it very likely won’t stop the ice caps melting, and may not even slow it down any appreciable amount by that time. Also, the efforts have been aimed, so far, at the current polluters such as the United States, but the real threat on the horizon is China, and India, and they will be very hesitant to stop their growth until they attain parity with the developed countries. There is a big brouhaha over the new Tata Nano car because it is so cheap, and fuel efficient that more people will be driving. It is virtually impossible that those countries will stop polluting. Even today, China has pollution problems so severe that people have trouble breathing, and yet they don’t seem to be able to bring even that obvious, and severe a problem under control. What is the chance of modifying their behavior for such an abstract long term threat as the sea level rising 3mm per year? Forget it – it won’t happen. We must find other solutions which will actually work, and which can be implemented. We must think outside of the box of solutions which obviously haven’t been working, and which won’t work in a twenty year time projection, and which can’t be implemented even with the best of intentions by authoritarian governments.
I asked Ambassador Kröner the question, “Is anybody trying to refreeze the ice caps? Is there any consideration of how to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere? Who should I talk to about these kinds of technical questions? etc.” Although the questions seemed a bit outrageous at first, it did seem on his consideration that there ought to be some research into those subjects. So far as he knew and anyone in the audience of about forty people knew there was not the slightest effort along those lines.
Soon the lecture and questions were over, and an after lecture reception was mentioned. I went to it, and I am very glad that I did, because I was able to talk to Ambassador Kröner personally for a good half hour. We discussed quite a few subjects in some depth because there was no quibbling over various non-essentials. We spoke together on an abstract level without need for much background fill in, just the mention of knowing certain details, and then moving to the analysis and possible solutions.
I asked at one point who I should turn to for help with actually getting my solutions into action. He mentioned Governor Schwarzenegger, the UN, and the US State Department, but, when I mentioned the Sand Hill Road investors he seemed to like that idea best, because if there was a way to turn a profit out of preventing global warming that would be the best way to ramp up the massive development, and construction of the necessary technology.
The various solutions which I have been mulling over for years are really fairly simple and once the investors have these solutions presented to them, in a workable way, things will go swiftly, I suspect. With new ideas there is usually a great lag between conception and implementation, but I don’t think that will be the case this time because there is so much latent interest, ready money, and public worry and this method which I want to propose is so obviously the right solution and an easy solution which will fix so many different problems, that progress will be rapid.