Geostorm and Geoengineering: One Planet, One People, One Future

6th November 2017

The new Geostorm disaster movie stars Gerard Butler as a scientist trying to save the planet from a rogue weather-altering satellite.

The plot is based around climate change becoming so bad, that the resulting extreme weather events need to be managed by us to prevent further runaway climate change. Humanity therefore builds a satellite system called ‘Dutch Boy’, to manage, stop and prevent weather events. The satellite project is led by the Americans, and is just about to transfer into the hands of the international community, when a senior government official interferes with the functioning of the system.

One thing this film shows us is the danger of not acting on climate change and relying on last resort geoengineering measures. Geoengineering is where humans cause a deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change (source: Oxford Engineering Programme).

I believe geoengineering is something that needs to be avoided at all costs – this is NOT a solution to the climate crisis. While the Dutch Boy satellite in the movie is a very extreme version of geoengineering, and arguably an unfeasible solution, the point still needs to be made that interfering with our climate as a means of trying to ‘hack’ our way out of the dire situation we find ourselves in, is not the way forward!

I think one suitable analogy, would be comparing geoengineering to dialysis. Imagine you’re a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker. After decades, your kidney stops functioning properly and doctors warn that if you don’t change your lifestyle, then you’ll be put on dialysis. Those bad habits, are the same as our reliance on fossil fuels, which are causing climate change. So actively choosing geoengineering, is the equivalent of choosing to keep our dirty habits (and avoid making difficult changes), and opting for a life-support system. If we go down the geo-engineering route, we’re choosing life-support over life. There is no guarantee that geoengineering will work; it could make things much worse.

Would I recommend watching the film? Well parts of the dialogue were a bit cringe-worthy, but overall it’s worth watching to understand that we’re almost in a position now where we’ll be considering something of this scale to try and maintain a liveable planet.

I’d like to leave you with one modified quote from the film, which shows how important unity is in times like these, where the challenges we face are global and will affect every single one of us:

One planet. One people. One future.”

I hope our leaders are listening, because we don’t get a redo if we mess this up.

Deepwater Horizon – A Review of Sorts

4th October 2016

I recently became aware that we need to keep around two thirds of existing fossil fuels in the ground (based on reserves in operation), in order to stand any chance of meeting the 1.5C climate change target agreed in Paris. We know that burning fossil fuels is a major threat to our climate, and causes a whole raft of related issues like localised air pollution, which is leading to increased mortality rates.

Today I watch the new Deepwater Horizon movie, which if anything reinforced the need to move away from fossil fuels as fast as practically possible (and I mean FAST). Mark Wahlberg plays the lead role in the film, which is about the worst oil spill in US history that took place in April 2010. I won’t go in the plot, as I don’t want to give away spoilers for anyone intending to watch the movie (although if you followed the disaster in 2010, you probably know what to expect). Click here to watch the Deepwater Horizon film trailer.

For me, the film cleverly captures human nature in all it’s positive and negative capacities. We have the heroes like Mark Wahlberg, who are just doing a job and end up forced to go above and beyond in this situation. We also see the greedy BP hierarchy (portrayed by John Malkovich) who only care about making money and have no regard for the safety of the people onboard the rig, or the wildlife which live in the Gulf’s waters. It’s all too easy to stereotype companies like BP as immoral, greedy and selfish. But you watch a film like this and you can see exactly why they deserve those labels. Add in the fact that they are holding up any kind of meaningful action on climate change and you can see why they are detested so widely. A better articulated view on fossil fuel companies can be seen here, in the form of Leonardo Di Caprio’s Oscar acceptance speech.

I was mildly surprised that Halliburton and Transocean escaped so lightly in this movie, but ultimately there were many failings and a lot of them fell squarely on BPs shoulders. This film is definitely one for the cinemas, try see it on as big a screen as you can. I hope this can be used as a lesson and an additional incentive to move away from fossil fuels to cleaner, greener and SAFER renewable technologies.

Links

BP oil spill: judge grants final approval for $20bn settlement – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/04/bp-oil-spill-judge-grants-final-approval-20-billion-dollar-settlement

Manslaughter charges dropped against two BP employees in Deepwater spill – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/03/manslaughter-charges-dropped-bp-employees-deepwater-horizon-oil-spill