Bill Gates’ new book on climate change was published this month. It’s very good. People should read it. TL;DR — we need a lot of inventions to save us from having to dim the world for a decade with Krakatoa-style dust.
Even a volcano would only buy us time. It’s the worst case scenario: we’d still need the inventions AND we’d have bad tans.
Gates reckons we need to electrify everything that it’s possible to electrify. We also need to upgrade the grids everywhere to make that possible, including inventing better energy storage. Finally, we need new ways to do agriculture, large scale transport, and construction because they can’t be electrified (cement production is innately CO2 producing, batteries suck for transporting heavy stuff, and cows usually object to being plugged into the mains).
All of that is tough though doable as long as we actually do it. We need hundreds of thousands of people working on it and it’s not just one thing. This isn’t a moonshot or a Manhattan project. That was easy. This is thousands of different things, which need to be done by lots and lots of different groups: governments, universities, companies, and individuals.
And all those people still need to be able to pay their bills by working on this stuff. Given the short time we have, we’ll have to use the economic levers we’ve already got: government spending on R&D and procurement plus laws and tax breaks. It starts with legislation and investment in developed countries and rolls out from there.
No it isn’t. We have to do it and therefore we will. The only question is, do we do it with Krakatoa or without?