Here in the weather blog, when I am not discussing the latest weather theory, news, or forecast, I am usually talking about the future – specifically technological progress. I think it is an under appreciated topic and concern for our future prosperity and happiness. I am always glad to share news of breakthroughs and new engineering marvels, but I also feel a need to periodically remind everyone that there is great peril that comes with technological progress. Almost every new technology could be weaponized in some manner. We also run the risk of being dependent and eventually controlled (against our will) by our technology. Check out this past blog post for a unique look at the situation.
If you are concerned, be heartened, as am I, that some people are now focusing more effort on making sure that humanity survives our increasingly powerful technology. I have mentioned the LifeBoat Foundation in the past (of which I am on the advisory board). Now there is a new effort coming from Cambridge Univeristy entitled “The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk”. I am not sure why they didn’t just join forces with the LifeBoat Foundation, but I am hopeful they can effectively foresee the trouble ahead nonetheless.
Speaking of technology, AGW is one of those threats (which I don’t think is an existential threat) that can be solved through technology. The latest news is of a company Skyonic which claims to have an economically feasible method of taking CO2 out of industrial exhaust gases (like cement factories and power plants). They recently raised $9 million in private financing to test out their method on a cement plant in Texas. The process takes the flue gas and makes sodium bi-carbonate as well as a few other marketable industrial chemicals. Another possibility of using-up carbon and keeping it from getting into the atmosphere is the creation of bio-char, which I have discussed before.
It would be better would be if cement factories could operate without creating any emissions at all, and that is what some scientists from the University of Virginia are proposing with a new solar powered cement making process.
If AGW is going to be a big problem, then it would be better yet if we didn’t need so much cement to support our sprawling unsustainable infrastructure.
Even better would be a continued transition away from the polluted industrial age and fossil fuels. Coal, oil, and gas are still necessary and economical, but solar power (and a few other alternatives) and an electrified economy have many benefits. Here’s to technology!
Have a nice weekend! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on June 29, 2012