Hacking (or quacking) the planet with geoengineering

An automated ship that sprays clouds. Image: John MacNeill

Hack the planet? Geoengineering research, ethics, governance explored

by Hannah Hickey

Hacking the Earth’s climate to counteract global warming – a subject that elicits strong reactions from both sides – is the topic of a December special issue of the journal Climatic Change. A dozen research papers include the most detailed description yet of the proposed Oxford Principles to govern geoengineering research, as well as surveys on the technical hurdles, ethics and regulatory issues related to deliberately manipulating the planet’s climate.

University of Washington researchers led the three-year project to gather leading thinkers and publish a snapshot of a field that they say is rapidly gaining credibility in the scientific community.

“In the past five years or so, geoengineering has moved from the realm of quackery to being the subject of scientific research,” said co-editor Rob Wood, a UW associate professor of atmospheric sciences. “We wanted to contribute to a serious intellectual discourse.”

Creating clouds over the ocean that would reflect back sunlight is the subject of a chapter by Wood, whose research is on the interaction among air pollution, clouds and climate. He and co-author Tom Ackerman, a UW atmospheric sciences professor, look at what it would take to test the idea with a field experiment.

A conceptualized image of a wind-powered, remotely controlled ship that could seed clouds over the ocean to deflect sunlight.

“I don’t want to prove it right, I just want to know if it’s feasible,” Wood said. “If you look at the projections for how much the Earth’s air temperature is supposed to warm over the next century, it is frightening. We should at least know the options. Is geoengineering feasible if there were to be what people call a ‘climate emergency’?”

Also explored in the journal issue is the idea of injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere, subject of a 2006 paper in Climatic Change by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen and central to Seattle entrepreneur Nathan Myhrvold’s proposed StratoShield. Yet another idea is iron fertilization of ocean microbes, though Wood said preliminary tests suggest this is not as successful at drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as its proponents had originally thought.

How to govern geoengineering is a topic of hot debate. In one paper, U.K. authors flesh out the so-called Oxford Principles, which suggest how geoengineering could be regulated as a global public good. The five principles described in the paper concern the research, publication, assessment and deployment of geoengineering techniques.

Many of the authors spoke at the UW during a 2011 seminar series, and more attended a 2012 workshop where they developed their paper ideas.

While discussions were civil, Wood said, the contributors didn’t all agree. A UW philosopher questions whether geoengineering can even be described in the Oxford Principles as a global public good.

“Just spraying sulfates into the stratosphere is not the kind of thing that necessarily benefits everyone, so in that sense it seems a mistake to call it a global public good,” said co-editor Stephen Gardiner, a UW philosophy professor who has written a book on ethics and climate change. There are decisions about how to conduct sulfate spraying, he writes, and potential tradeoffs between short-term benefits and long-term risks.

Gardiner also questions whether something should be done in people’s benefit but without their permission, and if accepting geoengineering as a necessary evil ignores other science or policy options.

He’s not the only social scientist to be looking at climate issues.

“A lot of people, from across the academy, are getting interested in the Anthropocene – the idea that we may have entered a new geological era where human influence is a dominant feature, and what that means for various issues,” Gardiner said.

The collection aims to prompt a serious academic discussion the editors say has so far been lacking.

“It’s an interdisciplinary discussion with an emphasis on the research angle – whether and how we should be researching geoengineering,” said co-editor Lauren Hartzell-Nichols, a UW lecturer in philosophy. “We hope it helps people think about this issue in a more interdisciplinary and integrated way.”

The seminars and workshop that led to the issue’s creation were supported by the UW College of the Environment.

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For more information, contact Wood at 206-543-1203 or robwood@atmos.washington.edu and Gardiner at 206-221-6459 or smgard@uw.edu.

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94 thoughts on “Hacking (or quacking) the planet with geoengineering

  1. Horrors!
    First of all we have to believe that
    1. mankind is actually affecting the climate.
    2. That mankind has the resources to change the climate.
    3. Assuming mankind has the resources, that mankind has enough wisdom to actually change things to the advantage of the world’s population without causing unexpected and possibly fatal and catastrophic unintended side effects.

    I say NO on all of the above points. Let nature take its course!

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  2. Have they considered the possibility that if they make the planet colder they could very well be lynched ?

    ….. or are they happy knowing that they lead useless lives where they will have no effect on a non-problem, but can tell their mommies that they’re saving the planet ?

  3. “Creating clouds over the ocean that would reflect back sunlight”

    But that’s what global warming does.

  4. How will they know if their geo-engineering is having any affect or is nature causing any changes that happen as a result of their practices.
    They don’t know what affect humans are having now so they cannot possibly know what they will cause!!

  5. I say the ideal climate is one that has tropics from pole to pole.

    Who’s going to decide who get’s what climate?

  6. This is one of the things I have been afraid of. These people want to “”feel good” about themselves. Stopping Algore’s scary lies seems like a heroic thing to do.

    But facts are stubborn things. No matter how much they’ve been screamed at about how the planet has a fever, the REALITY is that the biosphere is COLD and making it even colder will cause human deaths and plant and animal extinctions.

    No matter how much yowling goes on about carbon dioxide, the reality is that it has little effect on temperature but a BIG effect on plant growth AND animal well-being–both positive. If we seriously reduce it, the result will be starvation–and that will lead to riots and wars.

    The effects on the biosphere of a really serious war would be enormous.

    We could cause a new Ice Age. Our species and biosphere have survived many of those.

    We have already caused severe economic devastation by slamming energy and industry. I don’t like that nor do I approve, but we will survive.

    Atomic weapons cause insidious unseen genetic damage that many creatures will NOT survive.

    I am out to save the world. Only the truth can do that.

  7. Mark, Gordon, Roger, Phil, above
    Noted. Appreciated. And not dissenting, not one whit.

    But – being a belt and braces seaman – and unhappy with a – say – 92.7% chance it’s not the Sun (and/or ocean currents) [and possibly cloud cover/albedo] And/or some things else . . . .etc. – may I suggest there is a small value – perhaps 10 million dollars for a naval architecture study – I’m looking at the practical – it’s at sea, so it m u s t be practical – of a potential design of a cloud-seeding vessel.
    Or similar.

    Ahh. I f it is going to be done – note, i f – please … let’s try to get the design pretty good from the start. [A problem many innovative ships have, I fear!

    Auto

  8. A conceptualized image of a wind-powered, remotely controlled ship that could seed clouds over the ocean to deflect sunlight.
    Thankfully this would be wind powered rather than solar powered. A solar powered ship to do this would be self defeating!

  9. The only useful hack we’ve seen so far is building a walled enclosure with a roof. It has recently been enhanced with glass windows and insulated walls.

  10. Rather than a ship to seed clouds, couldn’t we just rely on the already proven technique of using warmer oceans to generate more cloud cover? (aka natural negative feedback)

  11. Wouldn’t you have to apply the precautionary principle here? If there’s a chance that they’d do harm, so matter how small, you don’t let them do it.

  12. “A lot of people, from across the academy, are getting interested in the Anthropocene – the idea that we may have entered a new geological era where human influence is a dominant feature, and what that means for various issues,” Gardiner said.

    Please go out with your group and test this ‘idea’. Get in front of the next hurricane, blizzard or tornado and just use your dominant human influence and get it to stop. These guys have a bad case of god or Dr. Evil.

    Could you at lease wait until one of your computer models get back within 95% before you start.

  13. Arming Al Qaeda is hacking Syria.
    Printing 85 bn USD a month is hacking the economy.
    Hacking everybody’s phone and computer is… well hacking everybody’s phone and computer.
    Obamacare is hacking healthcare.

    BEST is hacking temperature data.

    BTW, I saw on woodfortrees, when comparing RSS (global), HadCRUT (global) and BEST (Land only) that RSS and HadCRUT have nearly the same trend since 1980 and BEST has a far higher.
    Fair enough one would tend to say as BEST is only land.

    But this, if it were real, would indicate an ever rising temperature differential between land and sea.

    This would imply that coastal winds and storms would have to become ever stronger.
    There is no evidence of that.

    I think BEST is BS.

  14. Also explored in the journal issue is the idea of injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere,

    Yeah, there’s a name for that. Let’s see, What was it again …?

  15. What? A moral-panic-driven scold-rewarding tax-soaking boondoggle that will enrich bureaucrats and lawyers and achieve nothing else anyone wants in aid of solving a problem that has yet to be accurately identified?

    Why, that has never happened before.

  16. Of all the nonsense the AGW crowd has come out with, the idea that they would – not knowing how the climate really works – actually try to moderate it just leave my blood running cold.

  17. Rhoda R says:
    December 17, 2013 at 3:19 pm
    “Of all the nonsense the AGW crowd has come out with, the idea that they would – not knowing how the climate really works – actually try to moderate it just leave my blood running cold.”

    Don’t worry. It’ll be organized by the administration. Meaning, the money will disappear and nothing effectual will happen. You’ll only be broker, and some friend of the Obamas will be far, far richer.

  18. The arrogance and unbridled hubris of the so called geo-engineering promoters is breathtaking in it’s utter contempt for the what the rest of the world’s citizens might want in the way of the global climate.
    Who the hell are they who get to decide what the global climate should look like or how it should behave?
    Have any of these educated but ignorant, pompous, bumptious, self promoting ego inflaters ever bothered to ask what the other 7.2 billions of humans on this planet actually want in regards to the global climate?
    Do they know exactly every dot and every iota of the drivers of the global climate so that any proposed action they can anticipate every single side effect that might arise from their meddling with the climate?
    Of course not.
    In their total ignorance they can’t even tell us why the climate is doing what it is doing despite a billion dollars a day, $350 billion a year already being spent on climate related research and attempted climate modification with wind and solar energy production, all of which is an abject failure in doing what it was claimed it was going to do,
    The only results being highly inefficient renewable energy, rapidly rising energy costs and the destruction of colossal amounts of wealth and treasure and the increase in suffering amongst the poor who now have to choose between heat and eat.
    These are the sole legacies of the already attempted climate modification.
    There is no evidence at all that these attempted and immensely costly climate modification measures have had any perceptible or perceivable effects on the climate whatsoever.

    And yet these arrogant ignorant scientific nitwits intend to continue with ever more radical ways of “modifying” the climate when they and we already know neither they nor any other scientific based research still haven’t hardly a clue at all as to why the climate does what it does, when it does or what it will do tomorrow.
    All we do know is that there are still numerous and immense unknown forces and drivers at work on the global climate changing it in ways we cannot yet understand let alone predict.

    But then I guess some so called climate scientists are so damn dumb and so full of their own self promoting BS that they are incapable of thinking through just what sort of unparalleled disaster they might be inflicting upon the whole planet if they get even a minor part of their climate modification even slightly wrong.

    Respect for Anthony and a probable justifiable sin binning prevents me from using much stronger language to describe these feckless so called climate modification scientists and their grandiose selfishness, their ignorance and their total arrogance and hubris and ultimately, their complete lack of any sense of responsibility to the rest of humanity.

  19. Why wait, we can go straight to the age old expedient of burning witches, far more reliable, it worked when the last mini ice age struck.
    Now as the new one starts repeat as necessary, expect a 300 year lag before results.
    Yes sarcasm, but given the current drop off in solar output and the surplus of idiots in academia, I can see a winning solution.
    Designate all climate castrologists as witches and fire them into the sun.
    Wait 30 to 300 years then claim success.

  20. Examples of man mucking about with nature:

    Toads introduced in Australia to control sugar cane beetles multiplied and now number >200 megatoads. They have been known to spread disease and have caused large environmental detriment, but there is also no evidence that they have had any impact on the bugs they were meant to eradicate.

    Rabbits were introduced into Australia for hunting purposes, but bred like rabbits and caused millions of dollars of crop damage. Myxomatosis and other horrible deseases have been deployed to kill the poor bunnehs.

    Allan Savory engaged in the unsavoury practise of killing elephants in Africa to halt errosion, slaughtering ~40k before determining that they were not causing it.

    So yeah, lets engineer the weather. What could go wrong?

  21. The environmental regulations are growing more and more environmentally harmful, ie CFLs, low water-use clothing detergents which burn the skin, and worthless windturbines. Sulfate spraying certainly fits the existing pattern.

    Once the environmentally harmful environmental mandates are in place, will it not all be blamed on the free market, which has so far given us the most prosperous people and the cleanest water and air in the world?

  22. Well as part of an OU course years ago I looked at the energies required to replace natural function, hydroponics to grow food and the like. Generally speaking the energy input and material use was so huge it wasn’t practical. I don’t see man made clouds or man made algae blooms or plantations to capture CO2 as being any different. The natural process is on such a vast scale that man made changes pale to insignificance. Look at the “Hiroshima Equivalent” bollocks working out to 0.6 watts per square metre (see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/25/the-4hiroshimas-app-propaganda-of-the-worst-kind/). It seems clear either, we’ve screwed the climate, in which case we need to adapt survive and overcome rather than piss about with belated prevention, or we haven’t in which case butchering the global economy on the alter of alarmism would be profoundly stupid…

  23. These people are the insane genius scientists that early James Bond movies were based on.

    They are obsessed with geoengineering and will not stop until they get to carry out their mission.

    There is actually a UN convention against it but I don’t think this will stop them. One day, they will destroy the Ozone layer or something. More effective measures will be required to stop the David Keith’s for example.

  24. Mark and two Cats says:
    December 17, 2013 at 3:56 pm “Examples of man mucking about with nature:”

    Then there was the time the government introduced the Kudzu vine, which is incredibly invasive, and then introduced an insect that eats it – and soybeans as well.

    ‘Kudzu bug’ threatens soybeans, too

    By Allen G. Breed
    Associated Press
    October 17, 2011 at 7:19 p.m.

    BLACKVILLE, S.C. — Kudzu — the “plant that ate the South” — has finally met a pest that’s just as voracious. Trouble is, the so-called “kudzu bug” also is fond of another East Asian transplant that we happen to like, and that is big money for American farmers.

    Soybeans.

    “When this insect is feeding on kudzu, it’s beneficial,” Clemson University entomologist Jeremy Greene said as he stoold in a field swarming with the brown, pea-sized critters. “When it’s feeding on soybeans, it’s a pest.”

    Like kudzu, which was introduced to the South from Japan in the late 19th century as a fodder and a way to stem erosion on the region’s worn-out farmlands, this insect is native to the Far East. And like the invasive vine, which “Deliverance” author James Dickey famously deemed “a vegetable form of cancer,” the kudzu bug is running rampant.”

    (Courtesy of El Chiefio http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/edible-kudzu/ in comments)

  25. They just want to find new ways to make money out of this Catastrophic scam. Why act on global temperature when there has been no global surface warming for 17 years and counting? What if future warming is not dangerous (see climate sensitivity turned down recently), then what. An utter waste of money. Don’t believe me? See the desal plants mothballed in Australia because they were getting ready for perpetual drought. It’s a con.

  26. What if things go wrong? Below is what might happen to the carbonphobic climate geoengineers.

    Abstract
    Bohringer – pp 335-351 – 1999
    Climatic Change and Witch-Hunting: The Impact of the Little Ice Age on Mentalities
    …During the late 14th and 15th centuries the traditional conception of witchcraft was transformed into the idea of a great conspiracy of witches, to explain “unnatural” climatic phenomena……Scapegoat reactions may be observed by the early 1560s…..extended witch-hunts took place at the various peaks of the Little Ice Age because a part of society held the witches directly responsibile for the high frequency of climatic anomalies and the impacts thereof……
    doi:10.1007/978-94-015-9259-8_13

    Abstract
    Christian Pfister et. al. – 1999
    Climatic Variability in Sixteenth-Century Europe and its Social Dimension: A Synthesis
    …Peasant communities which were suffering large collective damage from the effects of climatic change pressed authorities for the organization of witch-hunts. Seemingly most witches were burnt as scapegoats of climatic change.
    doi:10.1023/A:1005585931899

    Abstract
    Christian Pfister – 2012
    Climatic Extremes, Recurrent Crises and Witch Hunts
    Strategies of European Societies in Coping with Exogenous Shocks in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries
    Finally, by confirming the thesis advanced by Wolfgang Behringer relating extensive witch hunts during that period to climatic change and recurrent subsistence crises, this article makes a plea for bridging the gap separating studies of climate from those of culture.
    doi: 10.1177/097194580701000202

    ——————

    Climatic Variability in Sixteenth-Century Europe and Its Social Dimension
    Pfister, Christian; Brázdil, Rudolf; Glaser, Rüdiger (Eds.)
    Book – 1999, VI, 351 p.
    …Moreover, the impact of climate change on grain prices and wine production is assessed. Finally, it is convincingly argued that witches at that time were burnt as scapegoats for climatic change.

    http://tinyurl.com/lrjczsb

  27. Bring on WW III. I’m sure that a nuclear winter will take care of any global warming remaining.

    /sarc

  28. “A lot of people, from across the academy, are getting interested in the Anthropocene – the idea that we may have entered a new geological era where human influence is a dominant feature, and what that means for various issues,”

    What do these people think “Carbon” reduction is, if the ‘Anthropocene’ is unconscious geoengineering!

  29. With a mathematical understanding of orders of magnitude and a good feel for the vastness of the oceans and atmosphere, I’m not too worried about any catastrophic anthropogenic manipulation of the global climate. (But then again, there’s that flap of a butterfly’s wing…) What I’m more worried about is the drain on the taxpayers money building all these useless geoengineering gadgets.

  30. Mark;

    “Toads introduced in Australia to control sugar cane beetles …………but there is also no evidence that they have had any impact on the bugs they were meant to eradicate.”

    Funny thing about that little “Geo-engineering” project. The toads are quite heavy and stay at ground level, and the beetles like to eat the fresh tender sugar cane at the top (8 feet up or so).

    Doooh, who could have possibly known that………

    Perhaps they needed the “extra long tongued toad” with the 3 meter long tongue, simply a slight specification error, that’s all. Next version of the project we will fix that little detail.

    These “Geo-Engineering” people are NUTZ………

    Cheers, Kevin

  31. Expedite the end of the interglacial … yeahhhhhh … thaaaaat’s the ticket! Of course, even without overt efforts, Ma Nature will likely give us a good Age of Migrations. Ah … I get so warm and cuddly thinking about warring tribes with thermonuclear weapons.

  32. When I first read the article I became alarmed, thinking ‘they can’t be serious’….. Then I realized these concepts are put forth by the grandchildren of the futurists who had us traveling in flying cars and speaking Esperanto. Just carrying on the family traditions of the absurd. Move along, nothing to see here.

  33. Very cogent arguments are being made here, but I’d like to pose a question of my own: The planet is claimed to have been under ice ages for most of the time, so much so that the current period is termed an “interglacial” (Between ice ages). So, if we determine that we are about to enter a new ice age, are we justified in tinkering? and if we do not learn how to do it properly now, what are the results of a last-ditch, uninformed effort likely to be? This seems to me to be an issue of life and death for the human race in the long term, as all our eggs are literally and figuratively in one basket.

  34. I went to a talk last week by some Notre Dame economist (Phil Mirowski) and was flabbergasted to hear him lump “climate denialists” (his term) with the geoengineering cabal. He is convinced that, in some sort of “neoliberal” conspiracy:
    1) “denialists” deny global warming to delay the left wing’s chosen solutions by casting doubt onto the problem so as to
    2) propose middle-term solutions such as carbon credits – a market solution, which is bound to fail,so as to
    3) gradually introduce acceptance for another market solution that involves corporations selling goods ie geoengineered solutions and
    4) the government is co-opted into all of these market-based solutions but the market controls the government

    I felt like I had entered an alternate universe, although interestingly he castigated both Naomi Klein and Naomi Oreskes for being blinded by their own left-wing bias into calling “deniers” anti-science. At least he admitted that people who reject the global warming program are not anti-science.

    I sat there straining my mind trying to recall anybody here at WUWT, the most important skeptic website in the world, who endorses geo-engineering solutions.

    Sadly, owing to my academic situation, I kept my mouth shut and uttered no criticims.

    Does anyone here know about neoliberalism and where this stuff is coming from?

  35. Mike86 says: “Wouldn’t you have to apply the precautionary principle here? If there’s a chance that they’d do harm, so matter how small, you don’t let them do it.”

    Exactly who is the “you” here, controlling the (allegedly harmful) activities? Is it individuals (like the Greenpeace protesters) interfering with shipping whose activities they don’t like; national governments (so we could see China declaring another ADIZ covering most of the northern Pacific east of the Antimeridian); supra-national entities like the EU extending its control over fisheries, or Ban-ki Moon using it to make a power-grab for UN world government?

    The Oxford Principles seem only to say “The Principles … stipulate that any decision with respect to deployment only be taken with robust governance structures already in place in order to ensure social legitimacy” – which rather begs the question; the paper itself is paywalled but from the abstract it seems just to be exploring the usual snake-pit of world politics.

  36. Many commenting on this post view geo-engineering with either scorn or fear and loathing. I agree that any government program addressing climate change in any way, shape, or form may seem to validate Al Gore’s bogus “planetary emergency.” Moreover, negotiations over geo-engineering protocols might pump new life into the moribund UN climate treaty process.

    Nonetheless, geo-engineering is not an inherently dumb or mischievous idea.

    Suppose scientists and engineers figure out, using non-toxic substances that enhance cloud cover or scatter sunlight, how to inexpensively cool the sea surface in the path of tropical cyclones heading for major population centers. Suppose further that such targeted cooling could prevent a tropical storm from growing into a hurricane. I see no valid moral objection to R&D designed to test the feasibility of such strategies.

    Some may condemn geo-engineering as an attempt to play God. The same has been said of biotechnology. But the energy flows that produce hurricanes or determine their storm tracks are no more sacred than the genes linked to Cystic fibrosis, Sickle cell disease, or Down syndrome.

    Human management of nature is the main reason ordinary people today live longer, safer, more comfortable lives than the kings and nobles of pre-modern times. The conquest of nature for the relief of man’s estate is intrinsic to the scientific enterprise. Developing technologies to suppress hurricanes, dispel heat waves, or alleviate drought is a ‘natural’ goal of Baconian science. If successful, such technologies could save lives and improve human welfare.

  37. There’s a much easier, cheaper way to raise the albedo of the oceans and suppress AGW.

    Release CO2 into the atmosphere.

    The increased cloud cover which results from water evaporated from the ocean due to CO2 forcing will counteract most of the global warming which would otherwise have occurred.

  38. Yes. Of course we need a bunch of idiots, with no idea how the climate system works and firmly committed to weird beliefs about one trace gas, playing fast and loose with the atmosphere, etc. upon which we all depend. What could possibly go wrong?

    These people, more even than the average drama green, make my blood run cold.

    And anyone who uses the word “Anthropocene” in earnest … I rest my case.

  39. vigilantfish said:
    ” At least he admitted that people who reject the global warming program are not anti-science.

    Sadly, owing to my academic situation, I kept my mouth shut and uttered no criticims.”

    And that’s all evil needs… (The silence of good men)

  40. Megatoads? An SI unit?

    Next time these brain explosions go pear shaped – for example a Cat 3 typhoon hits Vietnam after the seeding turns into a storm, who pays? Or do we just tell them “for the greater good – GetUp loved it and they got heaps of hits on Twitter”?

  41. @ROM says:December 17, 2013 at 3:39 pm
    So right you are ROM!
    At the same time as we should
    - accept the CAGW theory (in particular the CA part),
    - and support antropogenic climate remediations.
    This is hubris to the square!

  42. For a list of proposed and current geoengineering projects (now also referred to as Climate Remediation), as well as US and UK government decisions about geoengineering:

    http://www.agriculturedefensecoalition.org/content/geoengineering-current-actions

    The site belongs to a California agriculture activist whose concern is damage to food crops, and other fauna and flora. She is retired from the CA Department of Agriculture (grew up on a farm). The site might be a little wobbly as it is in the middle of being redesigned.

  43. if somebody uses the term ‘neoliberal’…it means they are communist…part of their communal vocabulary

  44. Hack the planet? If carbon dioxide is a problem, what we need is… some sort of self building structures that are solar powered, that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and using some form of chemical process separate the carbon from the oxygen, the oxygen can then be returned to the atmosphere while the carbon is used to progress the building of the structure. I feel sure that existing technology could be utilised for this. after all… great oaks from little acorns grow.

    :)

  45. Has it occured to anyone else that if the earth’s climate system came back into balance after a giant asteroid strike 65 million years ago, that it will be able to bounce back from a doubling of the CO2 in the atmosphere?

    Honestly?

  46. Well, let’s say you considered it worthwhile to develop the technology (that’s hurdle number one to overcome: is it worth it?), you then have the issue of deciding when to use it, according to what criteria and who has the authority to authorise usage??

    I have to say that this is one area where private enterprise should have nothing to do with executive decision-making. You might want to get them to run the cloud-making enterprise, but they shouldn’t be deciding when to do it. Not ever.

    The second thing to say is that this is warfare in the hands of the US military. If you want to imagine what will be the 22nd century ‘Nuremberg’, it will be callous, inhumane scientists who have artificially engineered multi-year crop failure in one part of the globe, killing millions by so doing.

    This is one arena where global agreement is necessary and it should be used solely to modulate climate for human benefit.

    The League of Nations banned the use of chemical and biological warfare in the 20th century.

    Well, in the 21st, it should ban the use of climatological warfare and develop institutions to monitor and enforce such a ban. The primary suspects for breaches currently would be the USA, China, Russia and Israel and the most susceptible to climate warfare would be the Indian subcontinent (destroying the annual Monsoon), South America (destroying the Amazonian climate of daily rainfall) and Africa (destroying the wet season rains which are the sole buffer against mass starvation). Australia could also be targeted, given its propensity for decade-long droughts. So could California for that matter, but woe betide anyone who tried doing so before 2050.

  47. One thing is certain, the people throwing money down this pit will be taxpayers. And energy consumers. Through taxes and levies.

    If the advocates had to fund it privately they would be laughed out of the building.

  48. Andrew says: “Next time these brain explosions go pear shaped – for example a Cat 3 typhoon hits Vietnam after the seeding turns into a storm, who pays?”

    You’ve hit the nail square on the head: without some cast-iron mechanism, universally agreed across the entire world, to control or limit claims someone somewhere will be suing for huge amounts every time one of these devices goes operational – and the lawyers will offer “no win no fee” agreements to sue operators, adding a positive feedback to the process …

    The biggest potential “geoengineering project” of all is of course nuclear warfare which has the potential to wipe us all out – international (non-proliferation) treaties haven’t done very well in that case…

  49. I see new targets for Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrier to ram and sink. It could be the opening scene of a new Monthy Python movie.

  50. This holds the problem of the unintended consequence to the fore. Clouds are a natural consequence of excess heat, the more heat the more cloud so reducing insolation at the surface and reducing surface heat by their formation, through latent heat. Clouds are not fully understood so get the data before creating some monster.
    Models do not include vital information like clouds and the differing solar variations but do include CO2 causing heating which it cannot do.

  51. vigilantfish says:
    December 17, 2013 at 9:10 pm
    “Does anyone here know about neoliberalism and where this stuff is coming from?”

    I think Milton Friedman coined the term neoliberalism for his brand of free trade / globalist / modern monetary system. Today the European leftists use the term to denounce free marketers, as they think it sounds a lot like Neo-Nahzee.

    The Modern Monetary system (following MMT, Modern Monetary Theory) is basically mutating into a form of global Keynesianism these days via endless money creation and deficit spending forever. I don’t know if Friedman would have a problem with that; the fiercest critics of MMT are the Austrian school economists; for whom MMT adherents are central planners and not market oriented at all.

    That guy with his weird idea that climate sceptics want to pave the way for geo-engineering has never read anything from real climate sceptics; he has probably only read a few utterances in the WSJ or from pseudoskeptic Dr. Muller’s backers, the geo-engineering NOVIM group.

    http://www.climatedepot.com/2011/04/04/climate-depot-round-up-on-richard-muller-scientists-trashing-mullers-workmuller-stands-accused-of-being-front-man-for-geoengineering-org-muller-responds-to-climate-depot/

    Geo-engineering would of course be a great pretense to let some trillions of taxpayer money disappear, so every crony on the planet must have wet dreams about it.

  52. rtj1211 says:
    December 18, 2013 at 12:36 am
    “Well, in the 21st, it should ban the use of climatological warfare and develop institutions to monitor and enforce such a ban.”

    Climate is weather averaged over 30 years; so waging war by modifying the climate seems like the opposite of a Blitzkrieg to me… as amusing a notion as the famous “war over water” meme… An Israeli general once said, two weeks of warfare are expensive enough to pay for a desalination plant, so it’s simply uneconomic to wage war over water. (source: The Skeptical Environmentalist, Björn Lomborg)

  53. Please don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!…

    Special Issue: Geoengineering Research and its Limitations – “….Any collection of papers in a fast-moving discipline can only represent a snapshot of viewpoints at a given period. We have attempted to focus primarily on the question of geoengineering research and the opportunities and challenges that may lie ahead should interest in geoengineering continue to grow. There are of course notable gaps. For example, where discussion focuses upon specific approaches, it mostly centers on solar radiation management with little explicit attention to carbon drawdown and removal. Yet the latter certainly requires attention as arguably it presents a somewhat different set of technical, ethical and governance challenges.”

    Sustainable Land Development Goes Carbon Negative – “If we’re serious about halting the rise of – and eventually lowering – CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, biochar could prove the best way. It also allows us to more sustainably manage organic waste from municipalities, croplands, wastewater treatment plants, and a certain amount of residues from forests. The problem, as with all other climate-mitigation approaches, comes with reaching scale. Can biochar be produced to a large enough scale to make a measurable impact? The answer lies in the triple-bottom-line perspective. In other words, the only way this will happen is if it can be produced in ways that meet the needs of people, planet and profit.” http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/09/sldi-project-carbon-negative/

    Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet – “It’s amazing for one layman to come up with the idea of saving champion trees as a meaningful way to address the issues of biodiversity and climate change. This could be a grass roots solution to a global problem. A few million people selecting and planting the right trees for the right places could really make a difference.” http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/07/man-planted-trees-lost-groves-champion-trees-urgent-plan-save-planet/

  54. Philip Mulholland says:
    December 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm
    Geoengineering? Here is an example of how Mother Nature does it:-
    The Chesapeake Bay impact crater
    =====================
    Very interesting what even Wikipedia has to say about the climate of Chesapeake Bay BEFORE the time of the SUV:

    The Chesapeake Bay impact crater[1] was formed by a bolide that impacted the eastern shore of North America about 35 million years ago, in the late Eocene epoch…During the warm, late Eocene, sea levels were high, and the Tidewater region of Virginia lay in the coastal shallows. The shore of eastern North America, about where Richmond, Virginia, is today, was covered with dense tropical rainforest

    Question: What caused the climate to change such that there are not tropical rainforest in Richmond Virginia today? Did the caveman do it?

  55. Has anyone stopped to think about how little effect a wind driven, cloud spraying boat would have as compared to millions of acres under irrigation?

    We already have a cloud spraying machine operating on the oceans. It is called the sun, wind and the waves and it makes the boat in the picture look like a sad toy.

  56. Wood said. “If you look at the projections for how much the Earth’s air temperature is supposed to warm over the next century, it is frightening.”
    ========
    stop reading the scary bedtime fairy tales.

  57. Geoengineering is ripe ground for the Law of Unintended Consequences. Nobody knows enough about the biosphere to reasonably claim that any given geoengineering project will never have any disastrous consequences.
    As far as ‘governance’ is concerned, geoengineering will be first and foremost governed by the laws of economics. When the benefactrors (those who are providing the gold and making the rules) are besieged by ‘constituents’ who have a more immediate need (such as medical research for a now strain of flu), projects with no immediate tangible benefits to the people who support the benefactors will move to the back of the line.
    This is exactly what happened to Kyoto Protocol Compliance.

  58. If only we could come up with a threat to the world that doesn’t exist – say something half believable and far off – and prop ourselves up as indispensable with no one able to disprove that we are saving the world … we could be kings.

  59. I have mixed feelings about trying to do geoengineering, however:
    1. If they had snow making machines in the arctic, they could kill two birds with one stone. And, if you need to stop, flipping the switch to off is immediate (although the polar ice created will remain).
    2. Follow the money – which multinational engineering firm would get the contract? Are they pushing the research now?
    3. The idea of Oxford Principles scares me – will definitions chance to include fossil fuel burning as an example of geoengineering?
    4. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for an unnecessary “good?”

  60. The biggest problem with epic geo-engineering solutions of this calibre is that they address a problem that only exists in a “virtual” environment. As long as the solutions themselves remain in the same virtual reality, I see no problem.

  61. The question is improperly framed.

    I say with confidence that Earth is going to get colder.

    Sooner or later Earth is going to get a lot colder.

    So what type of geo-engineering can be applied to counter-act the next ICE AGE?

    I am fairly sure that pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere is NOT going to work. It has done nothing so far.

    So what tools could we use to stave off the next ICE AGE?

    I am serious folks – global warming IS NOT THE PROBLEM!

  62. THE 60 YEAR PERIOD OF CLIMATOLOGY

    Climate has a 60 year period

    http://tinyurl.com/9zqmllk

    (h/t Girma)

    Climatology also has a 60 year period.

    Because the climatology period is delayed
    it goes the wrong way.

    That fact saved our civilization repeatedly.
    And periodically, of course.

    During the 1910-1940 0.8C warming, there were two world wars and people couldn’t care less about climate.

    Toward the end of the 1940-1970 0.2C cooling, climatologists sounded the alarm:
    we are all going to freeze.

    http://tinyurl.com/bw55e5r

    Pouring soot over the arctic
    (an environmental disaster if there is one)
    seemed the only way out.

    Fortunately, by the time it was getting close to reality in 1975, we were in the next half period of warming.

    Toward the end of the 1970-2000 .8C warming, climatologists sounded the alarm:
    we are all going to boil.

    Pouring acidic CO2 in caves
    (an environmental disaster if there is one)
    seemed the only way out.

    Fortunately, by the time it was getting close to reality in 2010, we were in the next half period of cooling.

    We are in the middle of the 1998 – 2030 0.2 C cooling.
    In a few years climatologists will sound the alarm:
    we are all going to freeze.

    Unless by 2040 we do SOMETHING

    *

    See how lucky we all are.

    If the half period was 40 rather than 30 years
    the restless among us would have time to act and
    we would all be unwilling lab rats.

    There are though equally unproductive and much more fun ways of spending those few trillions which we don’t have.

  63. DirkH says December 18, 2013 at 3:52 am

    I think Milton Friedman coined the term neoliberalism for his brand of free trade / globalist / modern monetary system. Today the European leftists use the term to denounce free marketers, as they think it sounds a lot like Neo-Nahzee.

    The Modern Monetary system (following MMT, Modern Monetary Theory) is basically mutating into a form of global Keynesianism these days via endless money creation and deficit spending forever. I don’t know if Friedman would have a problem with that; the fiercest critics of MMT are the Austrian school economists; for whom MMT adherents are central planners and not market oriented at all.

    As the only true wealth is natural resources, which includes energy sources (as well as mineral resources); unless rail cars roll loaded with material or pipelines are busy moving liquids, your society is going to slowly ‘dissolve’ (literally: sent piece by piece/pound by pound to the scrap yards with a final destination ‘offshore’) from within … Keynesian spending would seem to be the ‘procedure’ or economic methodology to accomplish this. This can’t end well for any modern, technological society. (Witness the former economic/production powerhouse cities like Camden NJ or Detroit MI. NY seems to have survived only on account of being/having been the financial center of the US.)

    .

  64. ” if you look at the projections……..,, it’s frightening”
    Don’t these dumb bastards have a class to teach or something ? If they are not teaching (probably a good thing) , maybe they don’t need to be a drain on the university payroll.
    Maybe they could get a job retraining the folks who lost their jobs when the incandescent lamp factory was forced to close, although writing science fiction is a risky career choice.

  65. As awful as the movie was, I immediately thought of “Highlander 2″ where the lead cured the hole in the ozone layer by putting a shield around the Earth, with the consequence that it was thrown into constant darkness and 99degree temps everywhere. Muck with Mother Nature and she’ll bite you in the butt….

  66. ferdberple @ December 18, 2013 at 6:10 am

    Here is something else of interest for you. Tektites are a natural glass and are generally believed to consist of terrestrial material. They originate from the spray of molten rock, caused by an impact, that was ejected from the surface of the Earth out into the vacuum of space. Tektites are found in strewn fields that can be linked to a particular impact event.

    See also Paul V. Heinrich (2009) Reevaluation of Tektites Reported from
    Rapides Parish, Louisiana
    Louisiana Geological Survey News Insights, Summer 2009 • Vol. 19, No. 1, pages 10-14. as an interesting example of how to do real science.

  67. John West says:
    December 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    I say the ideal climate is one that has tropics from pole to pole.

    Who’s going to decide who get’s gets what climate?

    Easy-shmeasy. Just relocate Antarctica. Somewhere in the Pacific should work. Oh, and get rid of Panama while you’re at it.

  68. People need to realize,aerosol geoengineering is BASED upon mimic of the stratospheric mist acid rain droplets super volcanoes get to stratosphere,,,they spread around entirely encompassing earth with the winds + rotation…that volcanic mirror STAYS up in stratosphere years,,,nowhere else does it stay up..goengineering in lower atmosphere with planes + chemtrails next to strato engineering mimic would be like trying to empty ocean with a spoon…Super volcanoes cause this “VOLCANIC MIRROR” phenomena naturally because they inject the STRATOSPHERE.+ they cause ice age every time..if it worked in lower atmospheres with regular volcanoes OR CHEMTRAILS which it doesnt…we would be in a never ending ice age 4ever…ONLY idea I can think of 4 chemtrails is so while they ARE geoengineering strato sulfates you will be busy following the chemtrails + not check the stratosphere…which would be simple enough …its working well to panic people chemtrails is,,,much like the Orson Wells war of world radio broadcast..IF YOU fully understood the volcanic mirror droplets aerosols stratospheric phenomena*acid rain technically, highly solar reflective, surrounds earth heat is reflected away, no heat comes thrugh temps drop* A stratospheric mimic of that phenomena would not even be noticed like in 1991 when pinatubo did it in tiny form, no chemtrails etc not even a blink….but if you did it just a little much more than pinatubo things would happen,,,like Cairo freezing+Australia in its summer…..hmmmmm…IF theres a volcanic mirror up there right now in strato but everyone chases chemtrails, when it eventually clears there will be no proof,,,,you only need about 2 years of distraction…..peace…..juith woolworth donahue

    PSS the pyramid of egypt was created mirrored, IF you restore the mirror casing*note my avatar* you SEE that super volcanic mirror science in pictogram….i believe its geoengineering instruction to mimic super volcanic mirror to cool earth…+ no matter where u r or what language you speak, if restored it looks like a super volcanic mirror in middle of desert from the time of Moses from anywhere on earth! see my fb….oh + id quit chasing those chemtrails + start checking the stratosphere FAST… OR PRIVATE FACTIONS WILL CONTROL YOUR PLANET 4EVER

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