On Power

On Territory

On Lifestyle

On Risk

On Manufacture New Climates

“So once you eliminate the moralism and the angst, the task of reversing global warming boils down to a straightforward engineering problem: how to get thirty-four gallons per minute of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere?” SuperFreakonomics, 193

Intellectual Ventures Stratospheric Shield source: www.intellectualventureslab.com

Levitt and Dubner ask: “If human activity is warming up the planet, could human ingenuity cool it down?” 
 
SuperFreakonomics tells the story of a team of researchers at Intellectual Ventures (IV)--itself supported by Bill Gates--working on a “Stratoshield” proposal, which would pump sulfur dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere to cool it down.  This system could mimic the cooling effects of a Mount Pinatubo-sized volcanic eruption with a “garden hose to the sky."  An eighteen mile long hose would send liquefied sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere at a cost of $250 million.  “Compared with the $1.2 trillion that Nicholas Stern proposes spending each year to attack the problem, IV's idea is, well, practically free. It would cost $50 million less to stop global warming than what Al Gore's foundation is paying just to increase public awareness about global warming.” SuperFreakonomics 196
 
Geo-engineering isn't just cheaper, it can bypass the problems of negative externality strategies like carbon taxation with its own 'positive externality' logic: “When people aren't compelled to pay the full cost of their actions, they have little incentive to change their behavior.” SuperFreakonomics 173 
 
Such “freaky” thinking, to Levitt and Dubner, means we must abandon the “moralism' and “angst' of environmntalism, and acknowledge that, as “Stratoshield' founder Nathan Myrvold says: “We've already geoengineered the earth.” SuperFreakonomics 197

Background

 

SuperFreakonomics is a follow-up to Levitt and Dubner's Freakonomics, “a worldwide sensation, selling over four million copies in thirty-five languages and changing the way we look at the world.”  SuperFreakonomics provides economic analysis that “challenges the way we think all over again,” and mixes “smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else, whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically. By examining how people respond to incentives, [Levitt and Dubner] show the world for what it really is – good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.” SuperFreakonomics
 
“Steven D. Levitt is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to he most influential economist under the age of forty. Stephen J. Dubner, a former writer and editor at The New York Times Magazine, is the author of Turbulent Souls (Choosing My Religion), Confessions of a Hero-Worshipper, and the children's book The Boy with Two Belly Buttons.” SuperFreakonomics

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