Gregory Benford - Audio Interview

Mon, 2006-06-05 11:37Sarah Pullman
Sarah Pullman's picture

Gregory Benford - Audio Interview

We managed to grab Gregory Benford, one of the speakers at the Skeptic's Conference, over dinner on Saturday. You can listen to the 7-minute podcast here.

You'll hear his explanation of UVB-Chaff – a proposed solution to warming on our planet (also a way to prevent lots of skin cancer). This is likely to generate some ideological controversy, as those who believe we should leave Mother Nature alone take issue with those who believe we have a responsibility to use technology to solve our problems. Check it out and we'd love to hear your thoughts!


We don't have problems, we are the problem. 
Sure, lets fill the air with whatever wonder-powder will control global warming, so we can keep driving and burning coal to our heart's content. I am sure that there will be no nasty side effects, syndromes or birth defects: look at the great successes we had with DDT, thalidomide and flame retardents! As a matter of fact, I am so sure that there will be no side effects that I think we should conduct our first experiment on a global scale, and design an experiment with no 'off' switch!
It is absolutely mind-boggling that this sort of idiocy would be showcased at a skeptic's conference.

This was very interesting, Thankyou.
 I wonder if it's possible to utilize planes in this sort of activity - to cancel out some of the damage they do anyway!
 It is essential to be sure of its affect on human health - if nanoparticles can be dangerous, this kind of activity needs to be carefully understood.

No no no..

I have listened to the podcast, and Gregory Benford’s strong point in the conversation is re-iterating facts we already know and accepted. He’s pushing generic benefits and using them as a selling point as to why this idiotic idea should be put into place.

There is no ‘small test’ solution. We are talking about a sketchy experiment on a global scale, with mystery powder able to impregnate biological cells. Is he under the impression that the arctic is completely devoid of life? What about geological and meteorological factors? It’s ignorant to think that he can create this experiment under strict confines (if you can think of the arctic – not just Canadian, but northern Europe as well – as small). Mr. Benford openly admits that he doesn’t know how the environment and atmosphere will react to this type of experiment.

But, again, his defacto answer is to mention the obviously decrease of skin cancer (sans tanning bed), and just generally “saving the Earth”.

I think it’s incredibly dangerous that we (as a society and skeptics) should advertise an instant solution to a problem as complex and global warming. The focus needs to be on management – management of resources, funds and technology, and an illustrating actionable steps that individuals can participate in. Not only will allow individuals to feel like they are making a difference, but it places responsibility on everyone for the problem of global warming.

All in all, I admire Mr. Benford’s idea, but I don’t think it’s headed in the right direction.