Asking tough questions about the science, technology, and politics of climate change, two climate researchers challenge leading experts on one of the defining issues of our age. Every two weeks, they explore how we can fight global warming by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, carbon removal, adaptation and solar geoengineering. Dr. Jesse Reynolds and Dr. Pete Irvine consider the roles of computer models and persuasive narratives, economics and public policy, and renewable energy and national security in the climate debate, and look beyond to issues such as biotechnology and international development.
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music by Peter Danilchuk @clambgramb (IG/Twitter).
Wake Smith on Pandora's toolbox and the feasibility of stratospheric aerosol geoengineering
Wake Smith is a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School, writing scholarly articles on the feasibility, costs and governance of stratospheric aerosol geoengineering. Wake also teaches an undergraduate course on climate intervention at Yale University, the syllabus of which forms the basis of his new book “Pandora’s Toolbox – The Hopes and Hazards of Climate Intervention.” Prior to his academic career, Smith served in several executive roles in the commercial aviation industry, including as the President of the flight training division of Boeing and the COO of Atlas Air.
We spoke with Wake about his new book and why he believes that our ancestors will demand climate intervention. We cover the climate context, and the tools in Pandora’s toolbox: carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management. Wake explains why high-flying jets offer a feasible means of deploying stratospheric aerosol geoengineering, and why the scenario of a billionaire “Greenfinger” implementing this is unlikely. We also touch on the international governance challenges that solar radiation management poses.
Wake’s Book: “Pandora’s Toolbox: The Hopes and Hazards of Climate Intervention” Wake’s personal website Article by Wake on “The cost of stratospheric aerosol injection through 2100” Support the show
Sir David King on science advice, climate politics, and climate repair
Sir David King is the founder and chair of the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge University and the Climate Crisis Advisory Group. Previously he held the positions of the UK's permanent Special Representative for Climate Change. He was also the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor from 2000 to 2007, during which time he raised awareness of the need for governments to act on climate change and was instrumental in creating the Energy Technologies Institute.
We speak with Sir David about science advice for the government and communication with the public, foresight, the domestic and international politics of climate change, his relatively new endeavors -- the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge and the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the importance of carbon dioxide removal.
Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge https://www.climaterepair.cam.ac.uk/Climate Crisis Advisory Group https://www.ccag.earth/"Infectious diseases: preparing for the future" report https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/infectious-diseases-preparing-for-the-future"Future flooding" report https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-floodingSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/challengingclimate)
Jan Minx on the IPCC's latest report on mitigation
We speak with Jan Minx, Head of Applied Sustainability Science at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, and a visiting Professor of Climate Change and Public Policy at The Priestley Centre at the University of Leeds. Jan has published widely on climate and sustainability issues and has a keen interest in evidence synthesis which he developed through his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Jan was a coordinating lead author on the latest IPCC assessment report on mitigation and in this episode, he shares his take-aways from the report. We discuss the roles of individual choice, technological development, and carbon dioxide removal in meeting our climate goals. Jan also explains how thinking systematically about evidence synthesis can lead to better reviews of the literature and better research overall.
Jan’s Profile IPCC Working Group 3 report on mitigation The chapter that Jan was a coordinating lead author on: Chapter 2 - emissions trends and drivers The chapter that addresses demand-side options: Chapter 5 - Demand, services and social aspects Figure SPM6 from Summary for Policymakers that shows demand-side mitigation options Carbon Brief article that maps CO2 imports and exports The 2015 systematic review study which provides an overview of impacts attribution, covered in the IPCC’s 5th report The machine learning effort to provide a more comprehensive overview of impacts attribution that Jan was involved in The paper by Gunnar Luderer on the feasibility frontier of climate ambition in economic models of climate change in integrated assessment models Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/challengingclimate)
Gavin Schmidt on observing, attributing and communicating climate change
We speak with Dr. Gavin Schmidt, climate scientist, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and co-founder of the RealClimate climate science blog. Gavin’s research focuses on understanding the past, present and future of the climate system and the impacts of the various drivers of climate change. In this episode we take a deep dive on the science of climate change covering how it is observed, detected and attributed. Along the way Gavin debunks several climate skeptic talking points and discusses the changing challenges of climate communication.
Gavin's profile at NASA GISS.The RealClimate blog.The IPCC on humanity's unequivocal influence on the climate.The Oridivician (Not Oligocene) was the geological age that Gavin was referring to.The Smithsonian project to document 500 million years of global-mean temperature (Science).Gavin giving the Stephen Schneider Lecture in 2013: What should a climate scientist advocate for?
Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/challengingclimate)
Elizabeth Kolbert on climate change, extinctions, and life Under a White Sky
We speak with Elizabeth Kolbert, a journalist of politics and the environment. She has been at The New Yorker for more than 20 years and is the author of Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction), and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. We dive into how the climate change discourse has changed, mass extinctions and new speciation, and international large-scale interventions in natural systems.
At The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/contributors/elizabeth-kolbert
Under a White Sky: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/617060/under-a-white-sky-by-elizabeth-kolbert/
The Sixth Extinction: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250062185/thesixthextinction
Field Notes from a Catastrophe: https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/field-notes-from-a-catastrophe-9781620409886/
Robert Lempert on climate impacts in the IPCC and deep uncertainty
Robert Lempert is a principal researcher at the RAND Corporation and director of the Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition. His research focuses on risk management and decision-making under conditions of deep uncertainty. He was also a coordinating lead author on Chapter 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report on climate impacts. We discuss how the IPCC works and how it has evolved in response to criticism, the key concepts needed to understand climate impacts, the challenges of adapting to climate change, decision-making under deep uncertainty, and the peculiar nature of climate scenarios.
Profile at RAND: https://www.rand.org/about/people/l/lempert_robert_j.htmlThe IPCC’s latest report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-ii/The chapter that Prof. Lempert led the writing of: https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg2/pdf/IPCC_AR6_WGII_FinalDraft_Chapter01.pdfProf. Lempert’s book by RAND, “Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative, Long-Term Policy Analysis”: https://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1626.html