We'll be moving into closer looks at some technologies on the market in the next several looks - anything that can give us a stabilization wedge and put us on the path to 450-by-2050 - but it seemed that we needed a starting point.
So, let's ask a question: Can we research, develop, and produce the means to fix all of our problems?
It seems like science fiction - or blasphemy - to suggest that we can repair everything we've done. Maybe more than just too much carbon blasted out into the atmosphere - maybe other things, too. Maybe we can gene splice that or clone this and repair the Northern Sahara and Fertile Crescent, where ancient civilizations (now collapsed) tore down too many forests for firewood.
Or, maybe more likely - maybe we'll improve our genetic engineering skills and start creating bacteria that eat pollutants and crap out sunshine (or, more likely, oxygen). Then we just turn them loose in the atmosphere, the ocean, and our fields and call it a day.
But consider how little time we - our living generations - have had active stewardship of the world. About 100 years? Less? And we're still doing it - more awareness has brought little action with it, especially in the United States. That's not a lot of time - the industrial revolution was not that long ago.
And to make matters worse, the technologies and policies that can (and will) give us a good future have been blocked and marginalized again and again by members of the Old World - that is, believers that business-as-usual will see us through.
In our opinion, we can't rely on new technology. Even the stuff we think is a sure bet (looking at you, enhanced biofuels) - we'll support it, and be happy when it comes along - but we can't rely on it.