Geoengineering – Is this Really Where We Want to Go?

November 9, 2011

My first reaction to schemes for geo-engineering? uhm…isn’t that what got us into this problem in the first place?

Mike MacCracken, formerly of Livermore Lab, and an advisor to this series, interviewed above.
Mike leaves the door open to some of the possibilities.

My nightmare is, someone like China decides to do this, unilaterally. They blow sulfates up in the air. China gets cooler – but…it stops raining in the American grainbelt. ooops, then what?

Or, a new hair-raising possibility that was raised in a recent chat I sat in on with some very well informed experts.

Since there is currently no law or regulation concerning climate manipulations, say… an eccentric billionaire, one with a deep interest in climate change, the best of intentions,  and great faith in techno-fixes, signs off on a plan to spend 10, 20, or 50 billion dollars on one of the many schemes, and boom, makes it happen – with completely unpredictable results…

Sounds like there’s a screenplay in that for somebody.

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8 Responses to “Geoengineering – Is this Really Where We Want to Go?”

  1. witsendnj Says:

    What neither proponents nor opponents of geoengineering realize is that artificially cooling the planet will not reduce the “other” greenhouse gas emissions, the nitrogen oxides that then form tropospheric ozone. The constant, background level is inexorably rising and it is toxic to all forms of life. Many chronic and lethal health impacts from air pollution are epidemics, including cancer, emphysema, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, asthma and allergies.

    Because of ozone, the ecosystem is collapsing. Vegetation, especially trees that absorb ozone season after season, is in a dangerous trend of dieback all over the globe. Crop yield and quality are reduced, agricultural prices are going to escalate leaving many people on the planet unable to afford basic food.

    Don’t listen to the liars who blame insects, disease, or fungus for dying trees and shrubs. Scientific studies have proven that plants that are damaged by ozone are more vulnerable to those attacks, as well as drought and wind.

    Cooling the planet isn’t going to mean much if we all starve to death – not to mention, without the carbon sink of trees, climate change will vastly accelerate. Geoengineering is a fairy tale – we need to reduce emissions, on an emergency basis.

    Video of leafless trees in mid-October from the vantage of a hot air balloon trip (before the snowstorm):

    http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2011/10/complacent-oblivious-and-in-denial.html


  2. Developing energy efficient chemical processes that bind atmospheric CO2 in minerals or hydrocarbons is the most obvious geo-engineering solution. These approaches will address the problem’s root cause – which is man’s profound disruption of the carbon cycle’s geological component.


  3. “My nightmare is, someone like China decides to do this, unilaterally. They blow sulfates up in the air. China gets cooler – but…it stops raining in the American grainbelt. ooops, then what?”

    Thats kinda whats happen now. The west has put all this climate changing GHG up there and presto its affecting everyone.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      well, you’re right.
      but what happens when nuclear armed countries start deliberately, consciously messing with the climate? Is it an act of war?

  4. Martin_Lack Says:

    All attempts at geoengineering are an abidication of moral responsibility seeking to excuse the continuance of business as usual. Top of the unacceptable list, in my opinion, is carbon capture and storage (CCS). All continuing burning of coal is justified on the basis that we will, at some stage, find a way of safely doing this. However, CCS will be worse than burrying long-lived highly radioactive waste, as it will never be safe for burried CO2 to escape…

    Rather than spending trillions of dollars on miracle cures like this, surely it would be cheaper for governments to pay to put solar panels on the roof of every suitable house and/or install ground-source heat pumps, community-based CHP, etc., etc..

  5. Steven Raine Says:

    Well I must admit science and industry got us into this mess – theymay well be our best hope of getting out of it too.

    As a last resort?

    SF author Kim Stanley Robinson in his ‘Science in the Capital’ series (esp. the last two books in that trilogy) and also in his more famous ‘Mars’ trilogy had some interesting ideas in this regard. Worth reading if you haven’t already.

    I wonder if anyone has seriously considered the ‘Futurama solution’ of moving our planet’s orbit outwards yet?

    Its a very grim and gallows humour thought – one that I do NOT recommend us trying – but I also wonder if anyone has thouht of using the “Nuclear winter” effect to offset Global Overheating? :-(

  6. Steven Raine Says:

    Terraforming our own world? A last resort but we may have to do it – because in fact we already unwittingly are. Let’s not be too technophobic in rejecting possible solutions because ultimately it might be our last hope esp. if we do hit some threatening tipping points but let’s also be *very* careful and think through what we opt to do very cautiously.

  7. Clare Swinney Says:

    Geo-engineering is destroying the trees. Allan Buckmann presents related findings relating to geoengineering in this presentation with Rosalind Peterson.

    Geoengineering: Destroying the Atmosphere – Rosalind Peterson

    Also, watch What In The World Are They Spraying? to see more evidence related to what is occurring on the ground due to all the aluminium that is being sprayed from aircraft.


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