Chaos Control: Climate Stabilization by Closing the Global Carbon Cycle

  • Peter M. EisenbergerEmail author
Part of the Studies in Economic Theory book series (ECON.THEORY, volume 29)


The central idea behind the control of chaotic systems is that the same feedbacks that destabilize a complex system producing chaotic dynamics can be used to relatively easily stabilize it. While many argue that the carbon cycle feedbacks are destabilizing the climate, it will be argued here that those same feedbacks can stabilize the climate. The controlling variable is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the control strategy is to close the global carbon cycle of our planet, including human and planetary components, so the ambient concentration is fixed. The stabilization using CO2 capture from or release to the atmosphere requires less energy per year than used to stabilize the climate in our buildings and for less cost than 1 % of the global GDP. Closing the carbon cycle by using carbon from the air and hydrogen from water to make our energy sources, thus removing the current negative feedback between our energy use and the planet, enables us to use as much energy as we need. Thus chaos control of our climate transforms the threat of climate change into an opportunity for our species and our planet to flourish in the Anthropocene era.


Fossil Fuel Chaotic System Carbon Cycle Global Carbon Cycle Chaos Control 
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The author would like to acknowledge many useful discussions over the years with Graciela Chichilnisky, the author of the Carbon Market, on the critical role of CO2. Matthew Realff helped clarify the distinction between the feedback control signal and the feedbacks that actually stabilize the planet. Roger Cohen, a climate skeptic, diligently and patiently critiqued earlier drafts of the paper and helped improve it significantly on the important distinction between correlation and causation. Klaus Lackner provided useful feedback that helped clarify some ambiguity in early formulations of this paper. Others including Wally Broecker, Tim Fox, Chris Jones, Eric Ping, and David Shearer provided useful comments on earlier drafts. The author also wishes to acknowledge that this paper was developed during preparation for a new course at Columbia University for their new program on Carbon Management and that he is also one of the founders, together with Graciela Chichilnisky, of Global Thermostat, a company developing technology to remove CO2 from the air. This paper expands upon an earlier published article (Eisenberger 2013).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesColumbia UniversityPalisadesUSA

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