'Cool it': Reheating the climate conversation
Love him, hate him ... Bjørn Lomborg gets us talking about climate change.
Friday, November 19, 2010 - 13:53
Photo courtesy Coolit-themovie.com
Bjørn Lomborg, the author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," takes his ideas to the big screen in his new documentary, "Cool It," based on the sequel to his first book, "Cool it: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming."
Love him or hate him, Lomborg takes the conversation where his first book and Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" stopped. Lomborg doesn't deny global warming; he argues that our current approach to climate change is not working, and he gives reasons why and offers alternative responses.
Lomborg raises topics that are new to most audiences: urban cooling, geo-engineering, alternative energy, wind energy, wave energy and water splitting, to name a few.
Lomborg's movie has a special connection to this corner of the United States. He interviews workers at Intellectual Ventures, located in Bellevue, Wash., covering their research and projects. Most notably, Lomborg focuses on two main ideas that Intellectual Ventures is developing.
One of those ideas is traveling-wave reactors or TWR, through which fertile material is converted to fissile fuel in a nuclear reactor as it goes through the process of nuclear transmutation. The other is the stratospheric shield, a low-cost global cooling system. The main idea behind the stratospheric shield (see pdf) is to increase the levels in the stratosphere of sulfur-bearing aerosol, thus decreasing slightly the amount of sunlight reaching the surface of the world.
Lomborg and Intellectual Ventures agree that these ideas are good starting points, but they are merely short-term solutions and by no means are the solution. Also, they agree that these ideas should be used in tandem with other efforts to decrease carbon output and deeper research into renewable energies.
Whatever your opinion on Lomborg — most have strong feelings about him one way or the other — you cannot deny that he has some interesting ideas about climate change. Because people tend to have strong feelings about Lomborg and his ideas, he gets people talking about climate change. We need more conversations like that. When we bounce ideas off each other and push each other, those are the moments when we come up with the best ideas — ideas that might one day change the world or, better yet, save it.
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