Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pilot Of The Future


Resistance is useless

Tyler was once an avid follower of Dan Dare, Pilot of The Future. And unless his arthritic memory banks have malfunctioned again, he's pretty sure Col Dare once had to tackle a dastardly plot hatched by a bunch of mad green-skinned scientists to destroy the earth with a giant sunshade.

The greenies planned to deploy their fiendish device between the earth and the sun, thus cutting off all natural light and warmth. And it was only in the nickiest nick of time that Dan and Digby managed to stop them.

Of course, that was back in the fifties. Back then The Future was still The Future, and deep down we sort of guessed Dan Dare wasn't actually for real. After you'd finished reading, you knew there was honey still for tea.

But now half a century on, we don't have that comfort. We're now in The Future. There is no honey still for tea because the honey bees have been struck down by a mysterious ray from outer space. And blow me down, we've now got another bunch of mad scientists working on the giant sunshade deal. According to their leader:

"Our research found that some geo-engineering techniques could have serious unintended and detrimental effects on many people and ecosystems... its consequences are the price we have to pay for failure to act on climate change."

The price we have to pay. In other words, because we pathetic humans have failed to follow his orders to ditch our 4x4s and foreign holidays, he's going to punish us with the sunshade.

It is the ultimate vengeance weapon.

****

The Royal Society's paper on engineering our climate is called Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty. And let me admit straightaway I haven't read it. But a quick eyeballing reveals it's written by a whole bunch of emminent profs, and I presume they can't all be green and nutty.

So what's with their wild and whacky ideas for sunshades, cloudships, and artificial trees? Surely they realise a) we don't have the technology, b) we can't afford it, and c) it might go completely haywire finishing us all off.

The answer is that they almost certainly realise all of the above. None of their more eyecatching proposals are for real, in the sense of being feasible, affordable and safe. Their real game is to influence public opinion on global warming - ie unless we ditch the 4x4s etc we'll be forced to risk the sunshades.

In other words, it's more eco propaganda, just like the Stern Report and the outpourings of the IPCC.

Which is rather sad. The Royal Society is the world's oldest scientific society still in existence. And for much of its life it was devoted to the pursuit of science rather than the manipulation of public opinion.

PS Talking of forecasting future technology (not), here's another clip from Alexander Korda's classic 1936 epic Things to Come. Those elastic band powered bombers are meant to be the future of aerial warfare. Somehow nobody predicted the jet engine, radar, or missile technology, even though they were just around the corner.

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