Category Archives: climate change

Health and Climate Change

One of my students couldn’t attend today’s lecture on health and climate change, so she asked me to podcast it for her!  So, why not? Slides are available here.

This episode also streams from Youtube:


I like Bill Gates.  I really do.  They guy created a universal platform for microcomputing that pretty much birthed the computer business era.  Yeah, Zune sucks.  Vista sucks.  Lots of his ideas suck.  And his business model is passe and needs to give way to the innovation of open source and open access.  But I really like him for his charitable works.  The Gates Foundation has done more good for the world than anything you or I will ever do.

So I gve Bill Gates a lot of slack.  He’s also one of the top backers of research into “geo-engineering”, which is the science of technologically transforming the physical world.  One of the immediate applications of geo-engineering is to reduce the effects of global Climate Change. Check this out.

But this plan horrifies long time eco-warriors like George Monbiot, who makes strong arguments against geo-engineering here.

Here’s my take:  First, I believe Climate Change to be real and deadly deadly serious.  How serious?  Apocalytpically serious.  Given that seriousness, I think all options should be explored and developed… including extreme options like geo-engineering.

Second, it’s best to have that option well-researched and tested and ready to go, if indeed the Climate Change precipice is as sheer as the experts are suggesting.

But third, history has shown that such simplistic technological solutions never end well.  Why would this be any different?  We should be properly concerned and indeed horrified by the probable negative consequences of such extreme measures.  Let’s not pretend for a second that this is without substantial risk.

And fourth, who gets to make decisions about whether to engineer the Earth?  Bill Gates is but one man, as is George Monbiot.  The majority of humanity lives hand-to-mouth in powerless silence over these global events.  What arrogance it is to suggest that a wealthy few can decide to put the Earth at such pervasive risk.

So what is the solution?  Fund the research, prepare the options, and wait.  For what?  For things to become so dire that the world will want a solution –any solution, no matter the risk.

Okay, back to my drink.

Seven Billion People

Greetings from onboard a Westjet flight from Ottawa to Vancouver.  Award for funniest line of the morning goes to the Westjet flight attendant who announced, while in mid-air: “Smoking is strictly prohibited on this flight. Anyone caught smoking will be asked to leave the aircraft immediately.”  Okay, so things seem funnier in the air. Continue reading Seven Billion People