Could GeoEngineering Spawn Rogue Planet Hackers?

January 14, 2013

Standing in a quiet gallery in Washington DC some time ago, I listened in on a chilling conversation with some well informed players in the politics of climate.

What if climate change begins to slip out of control? What if some misguided group, or even wealthy individual decides climate is out of control, and sets out to do something about it? Some names were bandied about.

The technology exists for a nation, or subnational group, or even an individual, to begin unilateral geo-engineering efforts, in an attempt, misguided or otherwise, to hack the climate system.  I’m not talking about conspiracy theories of chem-trails or other fantasies. There have already been serious attempts at this.

Theoretically the technology has long existed to affect, if not control, global energy balance. The problem is, tinkering unconsciously with that balance is kind of what got us into this mess in the first place.
As the consequences of global change have become more real for policy makers in recent years, the issue is coming into focus.
Let’s say, 20 years  down the road, leadership in China is looking at some dire situations related to climate change – desertification, water shortages, extreme weather, crop failures – and decided, in the absence of a global agreement, to do something about it unilaterally. They initiate one of the  several possible schemes.

And it works. Deserts recede. Temps cool. Crops grow.
But, oops – it stops raining in the US grain belt.
What then?

A new report details the emerging debate.

Climate Progress:

The World Economic Forum has put out a new reporton global risks for 2013, and the report’s chapter on “X factors” — concerns more remote than the report’s primary risks, but still worthy of note — includes a section on rogue “geoengineering” experiments.

Geoengineering involves large-scale efforts to either remove carbon from the atmosphere, or to remake the atmosphere’s chemical or physical make-up to offset the effects of climate change. The most plausible scenario mentioned by the report uses aircraft to inject particles into the atmosphere to mimic the way eruptions of volcanic ash block sunlight, and thus cool the climate. More far-fetched scenarios go so far as deploying mirrors into orbit to reflect sunlight.

Such projects involve a host of funding and deployment problems, as well as the serious risk of unintended consequences for both the climate and the billions of humans who rely on it. For instance, a project at the UK-based Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering project, or “SPICE,” working on the idea to mimic volcanic ash, was delayed in October over environmental concerns. Unfortunately, this leaves an opening for smaller nations or even commercial interests to begin experimenting with geoengineering unilaterally, say researchers at the World Economic Forum:

The Guardian:

“The global climate could, in effect, be hijacked. For example, an island state threatened with rising sea levels may decide they have nothing to lose, or a well-funded individual with good intentions may take matters into their own hands,” the report notes. It said there are “signs that this is already starting to occur”, highlighting the case of a story broken by the Guardian involving the dumping of 100 tonnes of iron sulphate off the Canadian coast in 2012, in a bid to spawn plankton and capture carbon.

10 Responses to “Could GeoEngineering Spawn Rogue Planet Hackers?”

  1. As I stated in the Guardian newspaper regarding the article back in October:

    “An interesting example of for-profit interference with Earth’s life support systems.

    We must be very wary of the motivation, the method and the impacts of such meddling. This is not science; it’s criminal interference and must be stopped.

    We desperately need to develop low carbon technologies and other approaches to climate change, but they must be science-led and not for profit…

    …This is actually more a con trick than a pure business venture. Salmon cannot cope with the more acidic waters associated with the addition of iron sulphate (indeed the salmon as a species will not be able to cope with a more acid ocean, so bang goes the salmon as the climate changes)…

    …Some things like the health service just don’t work properly if profit is the priority.

    Like the goal of the heath service being health care, looking after the climate system must be about caring for the climate. If the climate system were to be run for profit, what would happen if the business went bankrupt?”

  2. skeptictmac57 Says:

    I think that we’ve swallowed a fly:

  3. pendantry Says:

    [The leadership in China] initiate one of the several possible schemes.
    And it works. Deserts recede. Temps cool. Crops grow.But, oops – it stops raining in the US grain belt.

    This is exactly why I get concerned when I see what should be encouraging signs of media discussion about climate change, but couched in parochial terms. As in headlines like ‘2012 hottest year on record in contiguous U.S., NOAA says‘ and ‘How we lost 20 years on climate change action‘ (where the ‘we’ in this case is defined as ‘Australia’).

    This is not a local issue. We’re in this for the species, people.

  4. That ‘law’ of unintended consequences obviously alive and well!

  5. skeptictmac57 Says:

    An even more troubling aspect of this,is that many of the ‘lukewarmers’ that I encounter,are taking the position that it will be “Much cheaper to geoengineer our way out of CAGW than to ‘bankrupt’ ourselves taking action now,because we don’t know how bad it will be,or if it will be that bad”.
    Never mind the hypocritical attitude that they previously had that we couldn’t possibly change our weather,because we are soooo insignificant,but now of course,we can easily just do a few little tweaks here and there,and Bob’s your uncle,problem solved…you’re welcome!

  6. From the series finale of “Dinosaurs” in 1994. TV Guide issued a warning about the disturbing content.

    • pendantry Says:

      That’s brilliant! — and marred only by the fact that the only way I can watch a non-pirate copy of ‘Dinosaurs’ is by purchasing a US import — ‘region 1’, which won’t play on my (region 2) DVD player. Humans! :eyeroll:

  7. it is good your are seeing systems, there are even subtle and precarious systems of intellect and learning, or unlearning, which are also susceptible to hacking and disruption, it is like a slow fire, or a very long fuse, then boom…if you were really paying attention you would see that the geoengineering with aerosols and such derive from top secret informations discovered near the pyramids and sphinx…england has been at that awhile too, the royalty there know a lot, about some aspects of enmod i mean…the aerosol ground heater programs have been going hot and heavy over the poles since hitlers time…wake up…the aerosol/satellite/antennae trident is a fork in your mind, never ending low grade torture 24-7, and thats just one of its main aspects, geoengineering as behaviour modification as security to make the elite feel safe and to counter the second amendment. it is the surveillance police state too, and more! read my book devilvision online at blogger for more….b

  8. […] 2013/01/14: PSinclair: Could GeoEngineering Spawn Rogue Planet Hackers? […]

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