Climate Carbon and the Fixers
Heteromeles outlines the big picture view of CO2 rise, according to Curt Stager’s book Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth. The projected effects include rising temperature and sea levels over the next few centuries. On top of temperature rise, the CO2 is going to acidify our oceans and kill off lots of carbonaceous phototrophs. And after we burn off all the carbon we can frack out of the ground, ruining our fresh water along the way, CO2 level will take centuries or millenia more to come back down. Once it does, we face an ice age.
What I’m wondering is, do Stager and the other modelers yet factor in CH4? Oddly enough, both the extreme oxidized carbon and the extreme reduced carbon are the major greenhouse gases. And methane (CH4) is perhaps a thousand times more potent than CO2. We used to think methane would be a sideshow, measured in parts per million. But as the Arctic melts, huge wells of long-frozen microbial methane are bubbling up. The same thing is happening beneath the oceans, although less obviously than in the Arctic tundra (which will soon be tundra no more.)
Meanwhile, according to the usually sane and mild-mannered Michael Specter at New Yorker, the Climate Fixers are at work; and could throw an abrupt spin. Suppose the Maldives decided to rocket aerosols into the stratosphere to halt warming and save their shores. Such measures are hard to reverse–and impossible to predict.
With realities like these, what’s a science fiction writer to do?