Its been pretty quiet on the astronomy policy front lately. But the House Science and Technology Committee has been holding all sorts of interesting hearings. So I wandered into one this morning on “Geoengineering: Assessing the Implications of Large-Scale Climate Intervention.” Most of the panelists were talking about “Solar Radiation Management,” i.e., reflecting some of the Sun’s rays back into space. They were careful to stress that it is to be considered as an emergency measure only (!). The panel was advocating for research funding to explore a few concepts, not deployment of any technique anytime soon. But apparently the equivalent committee in the UK House of Commons has started to look at this as well – so people are actually starting to look at this seriously!
It was the first hearing I’ve attended in person since I started this fellowship – so I was fascinated by the dynamics of this hearing. Tinkering with the one planet we have is nerve-racking stuff. But most of the lawmakers didn’t seem too concerned about that – they used their time to discuss their own views about global warming. Some were very thoughtful, some less so. It was also interesting to see how parochial the interests seem to be – Rep. Kosmas from Florida only wanted to know if this would bring jobs to Kennedy Space Center. The most surreal conversation was between Rep. Smith of Nebraska and Dr. Alan Robock about the impact of cows and eating beef on the environment. Followed closely by comments from Rep. Rohrabacher (CA) about how climate-change alarmists will now tell people to stop flying and stop eating beef based on inconclusive evidence.
And as I approached the metro station, hundreds of people were pouring out holding Tea-Party signs. Luckily, the anti-abortion protesters who were near the Rayburn building in the morning had gone home by then. One protest at a time. Democracy at work in Washington – gotta love it!Tags: climate change, congress, global warming, House Committee on Science and Technology