Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rain, Wind, and Fire

Climate change will require engineers to change their management of rain, wind, and fire.  The dry may become wet while the wet may become dry is just one scenario that engineering will be concerned with.  We will be engaged in a global rebalancing of these three forces - - as part of our energy transformation.  The net increase in rain, wind, and fire (if managed correctly and within certain limits) could be a huge positive for the planet.  Consider what Bruce Buenot  de Mesquita wrote in his 2009 The Pedictioneer's Game:

"Climate change due to global warming will add to our supply of rain, wind, and fire, and if it raises the oceans, kicks up fierce storms, and bathes us in massive quantities of BTUs, then it also adds to our urge to exploit these ancient forces just as their increased power makes us worry more.  As climate change would generate more of these sources of energy, it would also create a beautiful synergy which would in turn prevent global disaster.  How could this be?

There is an equilibrium at which enough global warming - a very modest amount more than we may already have, probably enough to be here in fifty to a hundred years - will create enough additional sunshine in cold places, enough additional rain in dry places, enough additional wind in still places, and, most important, enough additional incentives for humankind that windmills, solar panels, hydro-electricity, and as yet undiscovered technologies will be the good, cheap, evenly distributed and clean mechanisms to replace the fossil fuels we use today.  Global warming, in other words, induces a self-solving dominant strategy in which everyone elects some mix of wind, rain, and fire technologies (and maybe even some fossil  fuels in moderation) precisely because the abundance of these forces, and the attention drawn to them, will make them affordable solutions to arrest further warming - long before we all roast, drown, or are blown beyond the moon, beyond the stars, and all the way to Oz."

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