Monday, March 16, 2009

Crawling towards the Soil Carbon Solution - a new paradigm

"We are actually going to have to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere." With these words, Dr James Hansen knocked at the door of the new paradigm - the new candidate for the title 'DOMINANT PARADIGM'. Hansen is the most senior climate scientist to come anywhere near the idea that it is the existing or historic atmospheric CO2-e (or the 'airborne fraction') that is causing the climate catastrophes - and that EXTRACTION is the first job.
Hansen has been Director since 1981 of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He first alerted the world to Climate Change in 1988 and defied President George W. Bush's attempt to re-write science to suit politics. So he is a pioneer, but he is still only on the threshold of the idea that PHOTOSYNTHESIS is the only process that can extract (that we know of).
His solution is a change in the way we consumer energy. So he hasn't made the necessary distinction between historic and future emissions. Changing to alternative energy sources can only influence FUTURE emissions. Not those of the PAST.


For those interested in following the upcoming BATTLE OF THE PARADIGMS, get a copy of Thomas Kuhn's book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It is short and easy to read. It describes how Scientists live in a Self-Regulating Community governed by a set of Rules that enforce a way of seeing reality. This "Reality" is called the Dominant Paradigm. Students are taught the Dominant Paradigm, PhD projects must fall within it, and Scientists can only publish their work if a panel of their peers pass the work as being sufficiently obedient to it. When this Paradigm meets a crisis because it confronts a problem that it cannot solve, a new candidate is sought and it is often found in a set of practices already well-established, but not recognised by the Community (Carbon Farming). At first supporters of the New Paradigm are derided and their motives questioned (so Kuhn says). There are very few resources for testing the New Paradigm, the money being spent for the most part re-proving the Old Paradigm. But one by one, important figures switch loyalties to the new Paradigm as it passes the tests. The community moves across to a new Paradigm not by persuasion but by the passing on of the Old Guard and their replacement by youth. Every field of Science goes through the inevitable cycling of paradigms, and the community fights a "political" battle between the defenders of the old and the promoters of the new. Unfortunately these processes can take years... and we don't have years to start the extraction process. How can we speed up the process?

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