aaaand we're back. Posting now, cleaning up later.
Format: having speakers sit in audience so they can see slides.
Ira Bennett (ASU, Cosortium for Science, Poicy and Outcomes, Ctr for Nanotch in Society, chemist, policy wonk)
"Science Fiction as Technology Assessment"
Where does public policy have something to add to sf?
Is there a value in sf-inspired approaches to public policy?
- Not givernment but governance
- not "do" or "ban"
- Wide array of mechanisms
- foregsight: how to appropriately speculate on future tech
- engagement: inform the public and the reserach endeavor
Foresight: sf potential model, human experience
100 mil Americans read or have read sf.
Integration: Get scientists to read and write sf. Enabled to tell stories about own work.
Engagement: technology assessment for the rest of us. Enjoyable.
Engagement with Participation:
Participatory Technology assessment: supplement expert opinions with input from public. Democracy in action. Voices not usually heard.
- A matter of democratic right: lay citizen ethically entitled to direct participation in tech decisions. One of the outcomes has to be that it might not happen.
- Social values: Publics good at articulating ethical issues.
- Broader knowledge base
- Expedited conclusions
CNS "scenes" not just scenarios, but more strong images. Vetted by scientists for plausibility.
Eg: living w/ brain chip, barless prison
Have them turned into graphic novels. Collection of consensus statements from each site. How these techs should and should not be used.
Project with HS students in D.C. about cloud whitening. Able to talk to experts online. 4 week process. Created consensus document and presented it to a mock Congressional panel.
Elliott Campbell (UC Merced, Engineering)
"Bioengineering: Terrestrial Options"
Focusing on stratospheric options: timescale is short, quick result. Could also back out of it quickly -- unintended consequences. Other options:
- Natural sequestration
- Crop Management
- Bioenergy and Storage
Natural sequestration: photosynthesis, plant respiration, ocean exchanges. Land surface takes up carbon more than ocean. Engineering solutions that mimic or speed up these processes. Concern that terrestrial environment is becoming saturated, absorbing more carbon than it can release. Drought in areas has caused decrease in uptake. Very little data-driven estimates.
Forests: Prevent deforestation, commit aforestation. Not a bad idea. We're in a land crunch, have to double the food supply over the next fifty years, more people eating more affluent diets. Increasing intensity of agriculture: more food with less land. Important historically. Intensive agriculture led to: Fertilizer production, soil emissions. but without this, there's massive land conversion, which leads to more emissions.
3 important processes:
- reflected sunlight
- transmitted heat
These can be more important than carbon emissions. So in some conditions we can do more for climate by removing forests.
Crop management: so that more carbon is stored in soils. Reason that soil carbon has decreased over time has to do with how we work the land, not THAT we work the land (fertilizer, for example.)
Bioenergy + storage: you can reduce amount of carbon in atmosphere.
biochemical + storage: sugars into ethanol
thermochemical + storage: underground storage heat, convert to gases
combustion + storage: you can store more carbon here.
In this case, what does "storage" mean?
Competition between food and fuels. Increase price of food? We now use a quarter or third of corn harvest for ethanol, but hasn't offset much.
Big issue: how much land is available. We appropriate a quarter of Earth's photosynthesis for other needs.
Greg Rau (UCSC, Laurence Livermore, Carbon research)
"Carbon-Negative Energy Or How to Produce Fuels or Electricity While Re-terraforming the Earth"
Is it possible to re-terraform Earth that allow us to consume rather than generate CO2.
We are currently unterraforming Earth by emitting CO2.
- Carbon positive energy: fossil fuels
- Carbon neutral energy: gereen energy: hydro win, solar, biomass, foss with 10% CCS,e tc.
- Carbon negative: super green eneggy, incorporates net OC2 remval it usable neergy production
- biomass omustion with CCS
- nofossil powered electrolytic hydrogen production with enhanced mineral weathering
Why mineral weathering?
- primary way excess atmosphere co2 is consumed on goelogic time scales (natural and effective but er slow)
- avoids constly and risky concentration and storage of molecular CO2 (carbon capture and storage, ccs)
- return alkalinity to the ocean, which can offset ocean acidification
Mineral hydroxides: CO2 readily consumed by hydroxides.
Production of hydroxides - very energy intensive.
Lots of formulae here and various chemical talk, all of which I'm ignoring. I'm not going to try to understand this next part, because it'll wear me out and I won't understand it completely anyway. I'll see if I can find the ppt. and post it.
In spite of myself, I'm getting the gist of this: it's a cycle system that simultaneously produces energy while cleaning up the ocean. But it has way too many components, each with a different process, for lay people to understand. A hard sell, b/c it's not easily understandable, like wind energy or wave energy.
Is this entertaining sf (no) or a useful tech?
further R&D needed
Discussant Margaret Fitzsimmons (UCSC environmental studies, "making ecology work" book)
Martha Kenney, not listed.
Margaret Fitzsimmons: addressing the question of global change. Issue of sf adds rich poss. of speculation blah blah blah.
Sf extremely useful in teaching. Rattles off list of books she uses, including Robinson, The Dispossessed, Woman on the Edge of Time, and C.J. Cherryh.
Do you guys know how often you say "we"? Who is "we"? Assumption that "we" have a problem is an immense assumption. Question asked in anthropological sf constantly. Reminds people of historical processes, geographical discovery, etc.
Engineering vs. gardening. Gardening, parliament of things, having to negotiate with other species. Ability to live or not with other forms of life.
Can I just say here: why does it have to be woman who says this?
Martha Kenney: Glad she didn't have to be token feminist. Feminist science and technology studies.
Speculation about guessing and making things up. Heard a lot of big stories here, scales are amazingly huge. All of past, future, planet, Mars, humankind. Stakes are very high. Engaging in speculation at this scale is exciting and scary. Seem to be all or nothing decisions.
Politics make her uncomfortable. Exclude people and possibilities, smaller scales and other ways of knowing.
Teaches article by LeGuin about power of origin story. "The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction"
Not man as hunter, but man as carrier; not the spear but the carrier bag. Includes both sexes. Have heard the stories of poking tools, but not stories of containers.
Her question: how can we learn to tell stories that are smaller, more details, more complexity, join with stories of others? Stories that maintain the willies, but not triumphal or tragic?
Panel: which sf stories are we telling? Can we tell stories that are different from problem/solution? What kind do we want to tell?
Elliott: agricultural intensification is just one quick solution, not the whole thing.
Then he goes off to praise the feminist pov. Argh. It's true it's true! Rights for women are important!
Ira: we are getting to the point where the stories do get more nuanced.
Martha: what sf are you reading and having others read? How do stories affect policy decisions?
Ira: Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. Vonnegut's Player Piano.
Greg: We're living in nonfiction tragedy. Feels there needs to be some action of some sort. Need to make some intelligent decisions. Requires experimentation on a small scale. Dude, you totally missed the point.
That's a particular concern here, size of scales needed to test these out. Smaller scales, relatively safe, much less invasive. We could include other opinions on how it's to be done. But we don't have a lot of time here. Wow, really missed the point.
Q: Me, I'm a feminist. Technologies of humility? Huh? Uses Greg's examples of small scale experiments. Humility of working scientist. Another one who missed the point. Oh well.
Martha: didn't mean her response as critique to the papers that we've seen. What Greg said a second ago: the idea of a nonfictional tragedy, when tragedy has a specific fictional history. Tragic hero is a particular kind of story, as well as the one of salvation. Worry about largeness of scale and narratives that we're grafting our humble projects onto. get out of giant western stories that seem like reality b/c they're part of our shared culture. Hear hear.
Margaret: worried about coming across as feminist in under-womaned audience. Her department is natural science, interdisc. that is willing to work out misunderstandings about power and so forth. What she hears most often from scientists: We're doing the science, why can't you policy it up? She and Martha are trying to answer that question. Create a circumstance in which everyone can hear what other people are saying is urgent. She hears when ppl say climate change is urgent. Trusts a lot of the Cassandra concerns, why she's an environmentalist. We've gone in a direction that has taken us into difficulty and that's not natural. The root problems are humanist problems. We're all involved in the same project, tools used are very different. Study of processes of human institutions.
Q: Struck by two comments: what Robinson said yesterday about restoring planet to homeostasis. what Slawek said today about planetary scientists' main issue being stopping the use of fossil fuels. Sounds like trying to bail out a boat instead of plugging the hole. What Margaret said about gardening. We have a model of fixing the planet that's about to go into cardiac arrest. One side that wants to do a quadruple bypass, the other side says we should eat right, exercise, etc. the latter doesn't make as good a story. Solving a huge problem all at once vs. slowly.
Video: "the Story of Stuff" After showing a linear way of thinking about resource extraction, missing people and all kinds of stuff. So many points of intervention. Great way to encourage ppl,
Q: Thanks for the mammaries. Everything is up for revision. Vexed by need for reconfiguration, but the potential for violence of this reconfiguration. Thoughts about who will be included/excluded in these conversations?
Elliott: we're going to have violence. We see it in Africa, climate change leads to all kinds of violence, sexual violence. Important to realize that it's going to happen one way or another.
Margaret: now you see the violence inherent in the system. Need to get over the idea that bringing violence into the discussion is not objective or scientific. We need a more generalized sense of the purpose of science, that it is not focused on war. Many of the great scientific advancements come about as a result of militarization.
Ira: voices, here in our democracy, there are too many voices. really? Threat of violence can promote drastic action from the top.
Q: spend a lot of time fighting off ppl who are acting out of ignorance. Noise. Most scientists are strict prohibitionists (carbon prohibition) but economists say that's not possible. Aren't we moving towards a point where we will need to move fast in an emergency. You really can dither away your future.
Margaret: example: in 70s enacted environmental laws, concordance of ecology and economics. goal = zero discharge. Internalizing externalities. Then let the market decide if this tech is viable (within welfare economics.) Also the greatest intrusion into the decisionmaking of business since the 1930s labor laws. Reagan reversing agreements, been under attack ever since. Haven't done any more than protect those things put in place in the 70s. Partly a problem of language. Survey, evolutionary science most trusted theory among scientists and food safety the least.
Ira: Americans' attitudes toward different careers. Scientists second most respected careers. Don't think the lack of trust is true.
Martha: pubic dissonance out of ignorance. Who gets to say what is rational and what is ignorant? Ken Caldeira's emotional and rational brain. Can we reconcile these?
Q: If you use sf as technology assessment, how do you deal with the other goals embedded in sf? Advertising, politics, wish fulfillment etc?
Ira: you have to be careful. You have to educate. Develop a baseline of knowledge for the whole group. then introduce particular types of fiction. They are going to go back to the emotional state of their first experience with sf. Is there a way to bring in the passion of the sf community to work with scientists?
Q: Thanks for the mammary perspective. We really have to challenge the male dominated narratives. Reading Louis Mumford on the city. Wrote about cities as containers. Daniel Quinn, leavers and takers, we have become a culture of takers.
Lovely how he relates to this non-male-dominated challenge by referencing two white males.
Also comment on Joe's presentation.
Joe: films stopped being addressed to the public around Vietnam and Watergate. Consciousness of having lost the public trust. but there was still a program of public perception management. Skeptics and deniers - amount of money that goes into clouding and confusing debate.
This is going on so long because the lunch food delivery has been delayed. I'm checking out, even though they're still talking about Joe.