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« Mainstream acceptance, and... | Main | Learning About Nanotechnology »

November 02, 2004


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Michael Vassar

This is emphatically not an example of a policy issue that demands specific analysis prior to MNT. In fact, it's the opposite, a policy issue that can be analyzed FAR better post MNT due to better computing. Frankly, if we are to discuss global warming at all, our position ought to be that a) it's probably due to human action, b) it would probably be harmful to most humans in the long term, possibly very harmful c) cutting carbon emissions now would definitely be harmful to most humans in the short term d) we should apply a very large discount rate to any climate projections due to their extreme uncertainty because MNT can change everything in either direction.
Actually, a position of climate change appologism, esp coming from the left, might be a relatively good way to seek financial support.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

I agree that the question of global warming mechanisms can be analyzed far more easily post MM than pre MM. If you read my post again, you'll note that I was very careful not to get into that--I didn't even use the phrase "global warming" except in describing a skeptic's claims. I used the more agnostic term "climate change." I don't think anyone can doubt that the Arctic ice is melting fast, and that this constitutes a climate change, and that that could cause problems. So, enough of that.

What is worth analyzing now is how to plan MM policy so that MM can be used to mitigate and reverse the bad effects and even mechanisms of climate change. Will MM be made available for global climate control? Will the stakeholders (ie everyone in the world) be able to agree on how the climate should be modified? If not, will it be done unilaterally? And, will MM be available to mitigate the inevitable negative effects of both climate change and direct climate tweaking?

If there was a trillion-dollar fund for reducing CO2 emissions, I would certainly argue that it would be better spent on developing MM. But I don't think the money works like that. And I'd rather not contribute to the "technology will fix all ills" excuse for not caring about problems.

That said, the fact that (carbon-lattice vacuum-phase) MM can have a major impact on climate change means that it's quite legitimate to try to sell it to those who worry about climate change. Just as long as they actually worry, rather than just giving lip service. But hey, rich people want to retire to Florida, so it should be in their self-interest to work on something that can keep their dream home from drowning. :-)


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