"If we are talking about worlds that will never be realized, what do our statements about them mean?" -- Myles Osprey
I found Osprey's work on counterfactual simulations to be particularly compelling. Early on, Osprey references the tension between a desire for practical science (such as prediction rather than counter-factual simulation) and the necessary role counterfactuals play in upholding the rigor of models and the integrity of scientific claims. Later on, he applies a concept I think about a lot in regards to storytelling to the sociology of climate change. Counterfactual models demonstrate that climate change is a choice; it is neither non-existent nor inevitable, but something human behavior has the power to change. Not being able to hide behind the plausible deniability of non-existence nor inevitability, counterfactual models (should) inspire us to act.
I'm curious about whether Allen or Osprey think that on the trajectory/behavior pattern we're currently on, it would be more beneficial to end fossil fuel companies' "green initiatives" entirely, either because that would stir enough outrage to shut them down or the efforts are really not making any positive impact? Or, is it at least somewhat beneficial compared to no action on the part of fossil fuel companies?
I also wonder what counterfactual simulations they have run regarding carbon capture, both the environmental and economic impacts.
Finally, I'm very curious about what the model that uses fluid flowing through pipes to simulate climate looks like and how it works! In my head all of the "models" were theoretical systems of equations rather than physical representations.
The first question that you posed was definitely something that I was thinking about as well while listening to the interview with Drs. Allie and Osprey. Because they were advocating against the use of subsidies due to the large ineffectiveness of those actions so far, I too pondered if such “green initiatives” were the lesser of two evils compared to no action being taken in the first place. Additionally, in the absence of green initiatives, I wonder if governmental regulations and policies against such fossil fuel use would be viable on a large-scale system, given the technological needs that are necessary to first push such more sustainable technology, with the interviewees even noting that fossil-fuel independent flight travel being a long-term, time-consuming investment. Regarding the counter factual simulations on carbon capture, I had found this organization that is currently working on making carbon capture options more viable for different organizations to implement (https://climeworks.com). Similar to your question, I too wondered what current research has been done on the effectiveness of such options in the use of carbon capture for reducing large-scale emissions for longer time periods. The following article from MIT;’s Climate Research group explores the efficiency of carbon capture technologies, but still notes that such methods are expensive and would still require a tax on the part of the companies to deter further production of carbon emissions, which goes back to questions of policy regulations and what can be done to incentivize companies to invest in and create such technologies. (https://climate.mit.edu/ask-mit/how-efficient-carbon-capture-and-storage)