Newest geo-engineering plan is salt water daffy

Here we go again, more geo-engineering. From Physicsworld:

Artist’s impression of a Flettner spray vessel. The wind would be blowing from the right-hand side of the image, the rotor spin would be clockwise as seen from above, and the rotors would push the vessel to the left. (Courtesy: J. MacNeill).

Cloud-seeding ships could combat climate change

It should be possible to fight the global warming effects associated with an increase of dioxide levels by using autonomous cloud-seeding ships to spray salt water into the air.

{The proposal]  involves increasing the reflectivity, or “albedo”, of clouds lying about 1 km above the ocean’s surface. The idea relies on the “Twomey effect”, which says that increasing the concentration of water droplets within a cloud raises the overall surface area of the droplets and thereby enhances the cloud’s albedo. By spraying fine droplets of sea water into the air, the small particles of salt within each droplet act as new condensation nuclei when they reach the clouds above, leading to a greater concentration of water droplets within each cloud.

This project would require the deployment of a worldwide fleet of 1,500 free drifting ships.

According to the article, these ships ‘would be powered by the wind, but would not use conventional sails. Instead they would be fitted with a number of 20 meter high, 2.5 meter diameter cylinders known as Flettner rotors.

The researchers estimate that such ships would cost between £1m and £2m each. This translates to a US dollars cost of $2.65 to 5.3 billion for the ships only.

Here is what the original rotor ship looked like:

The first Flettner rotor ship in 1926

The Buckau, then renamed Baden-Baden crossed the Atlantic in 1926.

So the question is: who’s gonna fund this? And, how do we know the cure isn’t worse than the “disease”? Such hubris.

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96 thoughts on “Newest geo-engineering plan is salt water daffy

  1. You realize, of course, that if we are undergoing global cooling – even temporarily – that this plan, if workable and effective, would only worsen the problem. We would then be a direct and decisive cause in the climate change that would then occur. There would be no need to really debate THAT particular aspect. Ironic really…to achieve such mitigation, if indeed it did work as advertised, only to make things worse instead of better. Delicious.

  2. I think I read that spraying salt water into freezing air is a cheap way to desalinate it. So maybe those boats can be converted for that purpose. It might be cheaper than melting your neighborhood glacier if you live by the ocean.

  3. Let’s see billions versus trillions, and technology that can be simply turned off. Sounds like a bargain!! Of course, we may want to spend the billions on something we actually need.

  4. Hubris? I don’t think so. It uses wind power and salt water. What’s not to like? If you get worried that it’s doing the wrong thing (if, eg, you suddenly discover that the world’s not warming at all) then you can just switch it off and in one week you’re back to the status quo ante: try to do that with sulphur dioxide clouds.
    It’s cheap. Anyone who thinks that 5.3 billion dollars is a lot of money has not been paying attention to the carbon trading figures or, come to that, the loss of GDP caused by fiddling with our power supplies.
    From: Sea-Going Hardware for the Implementation of the Cloud Albedo
    Control Method for the Reduction of Global Warming.
    xxxx
    Engineering and Electronics, University of Edinburgh.
    quote: The carbon-trading market works very much like the Papal
    indulgences which so annoyed Martin Luther. It is intended to
    keep emissions at 5.2% below 1990 levels by requiring that
    people wanting to exceed that level should pay others to
    counteract the increase. Recent high and low spot values were
    €28.6 and €18.6 per tonne of CO2. A prediction for the total
    market for 2005 is €5 billion. The potential market for albedo
    control would be this amount minus removals by carbon
    sequestration times a factor for any increased perception of the
    dangers of global warming.
    However the carbon-trading markets were set up by people
    who were unaware of the potential of albedo control. Some
    renegotiation will be necessary if commercial investment is to
    fund it.
    The prediction for 2020 is for an increase of atmospheric CO2
    by a factor of 1.7. At a cost of €20 per tonne this would represent
    an annual market of €3500 billion. unquote
    Hubris? It’s not Salter and Latham who suffer from hubris.
    There’s another reason I like it — well, two reasons. First it cools the oceans. There was a recent paper which demonstrated that global warming is, in fact, ocean warming extended to the land, so the problem is tackled right where it is happening. Second, it lets politicians prevaricate, not always a good idea but in this case I am fairly sure it is. The idea that the oceans will continue to lose alkalinity is overstated — the measurement of saturation in the RS paper was taken in a bay where different mixing and biochemical rules would be expected. Delay of a few years might save trillions of dollars and even many lives.
    Thirdly… Google ship tracks and NASA. Look at the pictures of how starved certain ocean areas are of cloud condensation nuclei. Google marine boundary layer and marine stratus. Google Palle/’s results on the drop of albedo and work out the extra wattage on the surface. It all looks much more convincing than water vapour feedback after a tiny greenhouse forcing. Global warming is the result of a lower albedo caused by cloud cover reduction.
    JF

  5. Why not use all this geo-engineering prowess and billions of dollars at a time to generate some clean energy instead.
    How much “power” does it take to shoot sea water way up into the air. How about if we shoot some water down some turbines and generate some electricity instead.

  6. If we get all 1,500 ships lined up at the equator in the Pacific at noon then the force of the spray will move the earth far enough away from the sun and thus cool us all down.
    Then, when we want to warm things up again, we just put them there at midnight.
    Of course, some deniers will argue that the gravitational pull of the sun will be hard for the ships to overcome – as if the sun affects anything here on Earth!
    Anyway, even if this were true, it would simply provide us with an easy and safe way to tour the galaxy.

  7. Don’t they get it? The A0g0w0 gang doesn’t want a technological fix. Technology is ruining the Earth. We must return to nature. No more power houses, no eating meat. We must live in harmony with Mother Eartk… Think Dark Ages….. Got it??

  8. Mike Bryant says: “Don’t they get it? The A0g0w0 gang doesn’t want a technological fix. Technology is ruining the Earth. We must return to nature. No more power houses, no eating meat. We must live in harmony with Mother Eartk… Think Dark Ages….. Got it??”
    Do you care to provide cites to any mainstream environmental organizations which are blasting all technology and calling for a return to the Dark Ages? It seems to me it is more the AGW-naysayers who are in the Dark Ages…preferring to milk yesterday’s energy technology forever rather than get with the 21st century.

  9. Just to add to my last post, my girlfriend says that Thomas Friedman was on one of the Sunday morning talk shows and noted that the cheer at the Republican convention of “Drill, baby, drill!!” could just as well have been a cheer like, “Yea, IBM typewriter ribbons!!”
    It is the nations that develop the new energy sources and energy efficiency technologies that are going to prosper and those that stick their heads in the sand that are going to end up as yesterday’s technological powers.

  10. “preferring to milk yesterday’s energy technology forever rather than get with the 21st century.” Joel
    Actually, I prefer burning cow manure.

  11. Let me understand this. Water vapor is the major greenhouse gas. Shooting water into the atmosphere will increase the water vapor and that will cool the earth. Of course, the new cloud layer will trap heat after the sun sets and reduce radiational cooling at night. I can see how this will work.

  12. Even at $1000 a barrel, oil is dirt cheap compared to alternative energy sources. There is nothing else out there with the fantastic energy density of oil — except nuclear. Wind, solar, geothermal, and wave energy are expensive and have larger environmental impacts than just using oil. The path forward is to use oil to bridge the gap to nuclear.
    Countries that do not invest in nuclear, and instead invest in politically-motivated alternative energies will be yesterday’s technological powers.

  13. Always nice to see an abstruse undergraduate lecture topic (Flettner) raise its head. By the way, I knew Salter decades ago: an admirably fertile engineering mind and sound on wind-power i.e. knew it to be silly.

  14. You are correct Joel, I think we all should be able to agree that nuclear and natural gas is our future. We can drill to get us through the construction and turnaround.

  15. @ Frank Ravizza
    Blood letting sucks your blood but you can say no.
    AGW sucks your money and you can NOT say no. Quite different beasts.

  16. Here’s what the BBC has to say about this:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/6354759.stm
    I find it interesting that Flettner abandoned the original idea as it was less efficient than conventional propulsion, but these folks claim is is more efficient than sails. Really. When I sailed, we never used a drop of fuel. This ship will generate power by dragging a turbine behind. That generates power to spin the rotors. Which power the ship. And pump a lot of salt water far up into the air, 1 km or more. That’s gonna take one h— of a turbine. Might even make a good perpetual motion machine.
    If they will only cost a few million bucks each, let Al Gore fund one and test it. Not to see if it cools the earth, just see if it can move and pump anything out the rotors. Of course, with full ‘peer review’. Like a bunch of folks standing around to see if it can clear port.
    This makes about as much sense as getting funds from that dead dictator’s bank account in Nigeria.

  17. I can’t help thinking of the billions of tiny sea creatures being sucked up, grinded up and spewed heavenward. this is even worse than the holocaust of chickens that happens every day.

  18. “{The proposal] involves increasing the reflectivity”
    My eyes are bad,
    they’re not very keen
    but in the quote above
    I sometime see green
    Is it your site
    or just my machine?

  19. One more thing:
    If this actually worked it would lessen the sunlight reaching the oceans. Wouldn’t that be bad for photosynthesis and therefore carbon absorption?

  20. Pingback: “Newest geo-engineering plan is salt water daffy “ « IAIN HALL

  21. The Earth First folks. This is a group I could get excited about hanging with.
    They party-down when it comes to Mother Earth! I’m ready to recycle my car.

    [Reply by John Goetz – Nice catch]

  22. What an stupid, wasteful, and completely useless idea. We’ve warmed some the past century, which is a very good thing. Now, we’re cooling, and these morons want to try to cool the planet even faster, at who knows what financial and environmental cost? Idiots.

  23. Scott (13:25:32) :
    Amen, the correct technology is nuclear. Too bad “China Syndrome” scared everyone. Joel, how many mainstream environmental groups want to do the right thing and go nuclear?

  24. I wonder which sci-fi movie this idea came from – most of the crazy ideas come from past sci-fi movies 😉

  25. Joel Shore (13:05:16)
    It is the nations that develop the new energy sources and energy efficiency technologies that are going to prosper and those that stick their heads in the sand that are going to end up as yesterday’s technological powers.
    new energy sources and energy efficiency? That leaves out solar and wind power. Neither one is new or efficient.

  26. I think I saw this in the movie Idiocracy. Really lame, if that ship is what they intend to build then it will simply fall over and sink since it is so top heavy.

  27. Joel Shore: Do you care to provide cites to any mainstream environmental organizations which are blasting all technology and calling for a return to the Dark Ages?
    Here ya go…..in the words of Mr Paul “mankind is a virus” Watson himself.
    While, admittedly, Mr Watson doesn’t call for a “return to the dark ages” in those exact words…..I’d be hard pressed to find a better description of his plan to reduce the population to less than 1 billion, live in communities of smaller than 20,000, power by wind, solar only, no air travel except by blimp when necessary, sea travel by sail only, and even road travel only for certain individuals and circumstances, switch to an entirely no meat diet, allow wildlife (predators included) free wandering rights through our towns, hand fishing only……and only allowing breeding by “qualified” individuals.
    Watson was one of the original founders of Greenpeace, leaving to form the Sea Shepherds because they weren’t militant enough, was affiliated with Earth First, and from 2003-2006 was on the board of directors of the Sierra Club.
    You can believe that the Sierra Club would vote him onto the board without agreeing with him if you like or that Greenpeace doesn’t share the beliefs of one of it’s founders (the “lack” of militancy notwithstanding), but I’d sure as hell be suspicious of it.
    BTW, the addition of the “mainstream environmental” portion was a lovely misdirection, as the vast majority of environmental groups are too small to be considered “mainstream” by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re still awfully vocal about AGW and “returning to nature”.

  28. Mike Walsh,
    That was an enlightening comment. Somehow I believe the Dark Ages would be preferable to the visions you described.
    Recently California tried to run the power lines to connect a new solar power facility. Any guesses what happened? Seems some groups believe those power lines will be a blight on the state. I’ll say it again, if it makes sense, it’s a no go for the earth firsters.

  29. This is just soooo unecessary. The sea surface warms if the planet warms and more evaporation produces more clouds; all quite naturally without mankind having to lift a finger. Of course, there would be no government grant money to study the “problem”.

  30. I just watched an episode of Discovery: Project Earth about doing this… A group of scientists built a prototype that didn’t quite do all that they hoped it would. Instead, they used about 300 salt flares (I think that’s what they were called) to create a new cloud 1 mile x 5 miles long.
    This is the website — you can even watch the episodes on line for another month (if you are so inclined) http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/project-earth/project-earth.html
    Keep up the great work Anthony!!

  31. It is the nations that develop the new energy sources and energy efficiency technologies that are going to prosper and those that stick their heads in the sand that are going to end up as yesterday’s technological powers.
    That is quite a non sequitur there, Joel. Just because people want to drill for oil domestically, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil doesn’t mean for one minute they are against developing new energy technologies or become more energy efficient. The fact is, we do need oil, though. It seems the ones with their heads in the sand (or somewhere else) are AGWers.

  32. It is the nations that develop the new energy sources and energy efficiency technologies that are going to prosper and those that stick their heads in the sand that are going to end up as yesterday’s technological powers.
    Let me fix that for you
    It is the nations that operate intelligently and efficiently that are going to prosper and those that follow fool hardy and wasteful notions that are going to end up with wrecked economies.
    A requirement that the new technologies be efficient should be a great guide. An old and efficient technology is better that an new and inefficient technology. The idea that we can excuse inefficiency by magically invoking the horrors of CO2 will lead to foolish choices unless we are certain CO2 is causing our problems.

  33. “…1,500 free drifting ships.”
    FREE DRIFTING?
    I realize the oceans cover a lot of territory, and these things wouldn’t be in the sea lanes (right? right?), but…
    Who is going to crew one of these? Robots?
    I can’t imagine those funnels give much of a radar return — especially if they’re made of fiberglass.
    What a disaster.

  34. Here we go again – such presumptive arrogance. And what I take to be another sign that AGW is at the end of its rope.
    At the end of the last generation’s panic attack of a new Ice Age came discussions of sootifying the Arctic. So too will this generation’s harebrained schemes be seen in the future as the signal of the end of this particular cycle of lunacy.
    And in 2030 will all the rage be about how to stop the new Ice Age?
    Those that advocate “fixing” the climate don’t give a flying rat’s hindquarters about the climate. They want money, power, and fame. And all received at the point of a gun.

  35. Mike Bryant,
    Heh. I don’t know if ya checked the link in my comment, but my description doesn’t cover it by half. Unfortunately, it looks like I didn’t make the link obvious enough so here it is again for any who want to read Watson’s little diatribe from a year or so ago.
    http://www.seashepherd.org/editorials/editorial_070504_1.html
    On topic (yeah, a surprise from me)…..while I’m not normally fond of the large-scale engineering type solutions, this one, at least, can be switched off relatively easily. That makes it not nearly as offensive in my books as, say, large scale algae seeding.
    Especially if we’re going to make changes that are irreversible, we better be darn sure we have a problem to correct first.

  36. Retired Engineer,
    That was my initial thought as well. Exactly how much power are these turbines going to need to generate to make the water vapor rather than water droplets. If they just make water droplets how much energy is going to be needed to get them to the cloud layer?
    My other ‘concern’ with this idea is that water vapor is NOT a cloud condensation nuclei, pumping more of it into the 100 meters above the ocean is not going to make more clouds or increase cloud albedo, there’s already plenty of water vapor there, just not enough condensation nuclei, which this, er, idea, will not address.

  37. When automobiles became the preferred form of transportation, most people kept the horse, the wagon and the buggy whip. They even kept them as backup transportation. Fossil fuels are not buggy whips, and will not be for decades.

  38. Here’s another thought.
    What a pretty picture of such a calm ocean – so idyllic.
    What happens when one of these “solutions” get caught up in a hurricane? Can anyone say class-action lawsuit?

  39. “Curing a body of cancer requires radical and invasive therapy, and therefore, curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach.” – Paul Watson, Mainstream Environmentalist

  40. I was reading Julian Floods post and was amused…..
    Look.. 1500 ships wandering about the oceans pumping water into the air is simply like peeing in the oceans in order to raise the sea level….
    For a start, they will only work when the wind is blowing…. However when the wind is blowing the waves throw salt spume into the the air over a much greater area and effect…. all for free.
    This is just stupid. Go down to the beach on a really windy day and have a look.

  41. If they make it any colder in Colorado, I’m filing a class-action suit. It is much too cold here for early September. June was very cool, and it has been possibly the shortest summer on record. The weather got warm on July 4, and cooled down well below normal by the first week in August. Mid-August we had high temperatures close to 50F.

  42. Bill Marsh (18:35:40) :
    “Retired Engineer,
    That was my initial thought as well. Exactly how much power are these turbines going to need to generate to make the water vapor rather than water droplets. If they just make water droplets how much energy is going to be needed to get them to the cloud layer?”
    Supposed to be self propelled, no power other than solar.
    “My other ‘concern’ with this idea is that water vapor is NOT a cloud condensation nuclei, pumping more of it into the 100 meters above the ocean is not going to make more clouds or increase cloud albedo, there’s already plenty of water vapor there, just not enough condensation nuclei, which this, er, idea, will not address.”
    It is the salt in the spume that gives the nuclei for condensation. The water will evaporate but the salt will reach cloud level is the theory I think.
    J.Hansford. (20:36:42)
    “For a start, they will only work when the wind is blowing…. However when the wind is blowing the waves throw salt spume into the the air over a much greater area and effect…. all for”
    Not to a height of 1 km.

  43. Have you read about not eating meat. The #1 head honcho form the UN IPCC on global warming said the best way to stop global warming is to not eat meat. Dumber than hell, but it’s real. I got a comment on my blog which left me laughing to tears for 30 minutes. If you stop by it won’t be all that, but damn, it’s funny how the public thinks
    Best time blogging I have ever had.
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/no-meat-for-you-there-are-nuts-on-top-of-the-un-ipcc-granola-bar/

  44. I have spoken on this before.
    We have to be pragmatic. Is the skeptic community making a dent and stopping the momentum of all the carbon follies ?
    I think not. The only thing that will stop the AGW momentum would be the Mediterranean freezing this winter, or something similar.
    I am convinced that carbon taxes and trading are unethical and will contribute to the misery of the third world, worse than the ethanol fiasco.
    Here is a proposal that gives a technological solution. I say lets fund it. I thought only 20 ships were needed and now see it is 1500. By the time this project is built a decade will have gone where if we are lucky, the cooling will be established. A much smaller price to pay than the carbon gimmick which will make Gore and Co. rich.
    It will give an out to politicians who are for drilling.
    If warming returns, i will be a tool for weather control, much better than trying to control Carbon emissions.

  45. Anna:
    I worry more about a cooling planet than a warming planet. Warm is inconvenient. Cold is deadly.
    Save the weather control to prevent the next ice age.

  46. I think most people are suffering from the mistaken belief that this scheme is somehow connected to the warmist camp: far from it, — as a cheap way of holding the fort while we get the science right it is the last thing people who are trying to scare the world into CO2 reductions would want. It frightens me a damn sight less than pumping CO2 back into the ground.
    I’m just a simple nurseryman, but let me try to explain what’s going on here, as far as I can judge.
    When the wind blows over the ocean surface, it sets up a certain depth of turbulent air which is capped at about 2 or 3 thousand feet by stability. A wave breaks, bubbles form in the water, the bubbles rise and break and billions of drops of seawater drift up and down in the boundary layer. They do not, in normal circumstances, drift higher. The droplets dry to make salt particles and these particles hover in the turbulent air until they reach an area which is of a sufficiently high humidity. The water then condenses onto the particle and cloud forms, marine stratocumulus. Seen from below this cloud is dark, from above, white. Anyone who has bothered to look out of the window as their flight takes them over the ocean will have seen them about 30% of the time, because that’s how much of the sea surface is covered with marine strato-cu. There are various things that help droplets to condense — bacterial remains, dust, sulphur dioxide, salt particles and dimethyl sulphide (the latter emitted by plankton trying to reduce the warming on the top of their world). Collectively these particles are called cloud condensation nuclei, CCNs.
    You will no doubt have seen the arguments on the blogs where someone has stoutly declared that they don’t believe in global warming because the science is bad and been answered with the riposte ‘if you don’t think it’s CO2 then what’s your theory?’ Well, I decided that I needed a theory and started to look for mechanisms that really control the planet’s heat balance.
    It’s the clouds, [snip].
    Low level clouds reflect high frequency radiation back into space. That’s why when you stand on the NE coast of England on a haar day (when the strato-cu rolls in off the sea and blots out the sun) your toes get cold and your nose turns blue. No incoming high frequency radiation, no warming. Low level clouds cool the earth like putting limewash on your greenhouse. (Someone might tell IPCC — they don’t seem to have noticed this).
    The albedo of open water is, essentially zero. The albedo of strato-cu is 60. Round figures, to make the sums easy, I’m just this nurseryman, remember? The sun sends us about 300 ish watts per square metre. So, a section of open water exposed directly to the sun will take in 300 watts per m^2, but if we cover it with strato-cu it will get 300 – (300*.6) watts per m^2, 120 watts/m^2 less! Does anyone recall the enormous power of CO2 warming, even if you pump it so full with water vapour feedbacks that it sloshes when it moves? 4 watts/m^2? Wow, no wonder the Earth’s in trouble when 4 w/m^2 causes all this climate chaos and Nature’s got a whole extra 116 watts to play with at will.
    quote Using the temperature response demonstrated by Idso (1998) of 0.1°C per watt/m2, this difference of 0.4 watts/m2 equates to an increase in atmospheric temperature of 0.04°C. unquote
    So that’s 116 times .1 deg C. No, can’t be right. Can it? Wow!
    Power required: quote It is the NUMBER of condensation nuclei disseminated, not the
    mass of spray, which matters. The inescapable minimum
    energy required for the ideal spray generator is the amount
    required to create the new surface area against surface
    tension. The surface area of a 1-micron drop is 3.14 x 10-12 m2
    and the surface tension of sea water is 0.078 N/m so the very
    minimum energy is 2.45 x 10 -13 Joules per drop. This amounts
    to only 245 kW to cope with present world annual CO2
    increases. However the energy requirement of practical spray
    generators now being designed is likely to be at least 50 times
    more. Even so the ratio of the wind power required to make the
    spray relative to the reflected solar power is probably between
    6 and 8 orders of magnitude. unquote
    245 kilowatts: you can hardly run a mansion is Nashville on that little power.
    So, not a lot then.
    quote Latham calculated that the quantities of spray needed in
    suitable regions are surprisingly small. An annual increase of
    the spray rate by 10^18 drops per second would allow the
    present rate of rise of CO2 to continue with no temperature rise.
    If the spray were done from 50 new sources each year, spraying
    one micron drops, the water mass would be only ten kilograms
    of sea water per second from each source. Unquote
    The average amount of evaporation from the sea
    surface is about 120 cm/yr. Call that a metre^3 from every square metre. Now work out how much water vapour is pushed into the boundary layer over the whole ocean and calculate by what percentage Salter and Latham’s solution to generating extra CCNs will add to the total. I don’t think we need to worry about the ships making it warmer through water vapour warming.
    From above: quote However when the wind is blowing the waves throw salt spume into the the air over a much greater area and effect…. all for free. [] This is just stupid. Go down to the beach on a really windy day and have a look. unquote.
    The waves on the beach are exactly where you can see the effect. However, out at sea, in the deep water, waves break less easily, (not having the land to break them, I think you forgot to allow for that) — there’s a critical wind speed at which they do not break at all and salt particle production ceases. Have a look at
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages /images.php3?img_id=11271
    to see how critical the balance can be — the contrails like lines are ship tracks, lines where the exhaust from a ships engines are enough to tip the air into cloud formation. No clouds, 120 watts/m^2 extra, remember?
    I can understand why this idea is attacked so vehemently by warmers: it would get us off the ‘panic now, buy this, do what I say or you’re doomed’ hysterical hook used by hucksters throughout history. No, I won’t buy your panic. Let’s do a trial on these methods and we’ll keep funding the science to see if we can get a better understanding of cloud modulation of heating effects. If I’m wrong and CO2 really is the worst thing we’ve ever faced then we will have lost nothing. We can always cool things off later.
    Warmers can be forgiven for their reaction, they want to keep up the momentum of fear; I’m disappointed to see the unthinking rejection by others of a neat, even elegant response to the need to have an engineered cooling machine ready if things go wrong. However, no-one has given me a billion pounds worth of carbon trading indulgences so I can afford to wait for the science to be got right. The state of the science of clouds? Look at the IPCC’s own assessment of its level of understanding of cloud forcings.
    http://www.greenfacts.org/en/climate-change-ar4/images/figure-spm-2-p4.jpg
    I have got used to feeding frenzies on other blogs where advocates of non-conformist opinions are unthinkingly attacked: I expected better here — Salter and Latham’s paper is a direct engineering solution with many advantages which is cheap, easily implemented and enables those who don’t wish to panic to hold the line. Get hold of the paper and read it with an open mind, compare it with the launching of solar mirrors, the injection of sulphur aerosols into the atmosphere or the closing of 80% of our power plants. Ok, which would _you_ choose?
    JF
    Yes, I got my alternative theory — it boils down to ‘it’s the clouds, stupid’ with added complications. It’s slightly tongue in cheek but it covers all bases better than some theories I could name… I think we’ve polluted the ocean surface and reduced the number of CCNs, with the effect most marked during the Battle of the Atlantic. http://www.floodsclimbers.co.uk. Or it’s just natural variation, but where’s the Nobel prize in that?

  47. Robert Wood (16:41:33) : wrote
    quote One of the authors is named Salter? unquote
    Yes. Of the Salter duck, a wave energy device that actually worked but, because a civil servant made a mistake with a decimal place, was never put into production.
    JF

  48. !,500 ships ???? that would be the same a catching a fly and putting it in a bathtub of water and waiting until he emptied the bathtub.
    About 1 in 500 million people on this planet have a vague idea of how big the oceans are, if you have a globe of the world, remove it from its stand and turn it so as Antarctica is facing you, then look at the size of the ocean, to increase the natural evaporation by 0.01%, a figure of 1,500,000 ships would not be sufficient. But who cares, it’s only money.

  49. Ok, lets see what we got.
    We got a movement that are afraid we are changing earths climate and want us to stop with it. Great, we should take care of our environment.
    We got a movment that wants to change earths climate with global-scale-constructions because they think we change our climate…WHAT?
    As Penn and Teller would have said, What the *beeep* is this? Do they *beeep* want to us top stop chainging our *beep* climate or not? Are they totally *beeep* up?
    Meassurements from reality shows we obviosuly do not know enough about how our climate works and still the AGW movement now wants to manually change it?
    Scary. It is really scary if they suceed getting money for it.
    Saltwater up in the clouds?How would that affect us?
    How will it affect rainfall and droughts?
    How will wildlife respond to such change?

  50. There is a phage about to vanish to the rear of the sun. Is the holographic method for reporting sunspots at the rear, sensitive enough to detect a possible pore if that is all this phage may become? If not, then why are pores such as the one/s on August 21st given any credence?

  51. As a non expert (enthusiastic hobbyist) won’t this cause salty rain and kill off the green and pleasant planet?

  52. Julian Flood: “The droplets dry to make salt particles ”
    Where does the water go during the dryng phase?
    “Seen from below this cloud is dark”
    It is dark because there is no sunlight reflecting off the bottom of the cloud or shining through it.
    “That’s why when you stand on the NE coast of England on a haar day (when the strato-cu rolls in off the sea and blots out the sun) your toes get cold and your nose turns blue”
    Isn’t that fog caused by cooler air traveling over warmer water?
    Your theory does not even come close to explaining why clouds form over tropical land. Have you ever lived in a tropical place? It’s evaporation [snip – ad hominem]! As the evaporated water vapor rises in gets into colder air which causes condensation and clouds form. In Florida it happens every day in the summer. Clear morings, cloudy thunderstorms in the afternoon. Somtimes it cloudy mornings and clear afternoons, depends on which way the wind is blowing. No waves, no salt rising in Orlando but lots of clouds and rain.

  53. statePoet1775:
    “preferring to milk yesterday’s energy technology forever rather than get with the 21st century.” Joel
    Actually, I prefer burning cow manure.
    or a straw man will do in a pinch.
    Even better, how about a wicker man? Completely sustainable, all natural-sourced fuel, and it can serve to appease the climate gods at the same time. Perfect.

  54. Anna v,
    “It is the salt in the spume that gives the nuclei for condensation. The water will evaporate but the salt will reach cloud level is the theory I think.”
    Has anyone shown that ‘salt’ is a CCD? I thought that CCD had to be extremely small and over the ocean tend to be droplets of sulfuric acid formed from dimethyl sulfide (the waste produced by phytoplankton that gives the ocean its ‘sea’ smell) converted to sulfuric acid by ultraviolet radiation. I suspect that salt is too large to make a good CCD.

  55. Dee Norris (04:42:49) :
    A wicker man is also a useful way to dispose of nosy environmentalists trying to measure one’s carbon foot print!
    Wouldn’t that be rather Druid?

  56. Warmers can be forgiven for their reaction, they want to keep up the momentum of fear; I’m disappointed to see the unthinking rejection by others of a neat, even elegant response to the need to have an engineered cooling machine ready if things go wrong.
    Julian, I couldn’t care less about AGWers reactions to the idea, or why they reject it. A bad idea is a bad idea, and this one is a stinker. True, it isn’t as bad as some of the other whacko ideas, but so what? As far as an “engineered cooling machine ready if things go wrong” goes, what “things” are you talking about? The climate is fine, and has been all along. Meddling with it is not only stupid, needless, and wasteful, it is a recipe for things going wrong, as in the law of unintended consequences. The only thing man has to do is to learn how to adapt to climate change, and to not mess with mother nature’s natural defenses such as wetlands. Adapting to cooling will be the big challenge now, which is what we should be working on, not idiotic schemes like this.

  57. How can one be green
    and yet to plants be mean?
    They simply cannot do
    without a gas called CO2.
    So please do not be blind
    to the needs of all plant-kind.

  58. I find this intriguing and certainly wouldn’t reject it out of hand like most here. It seems to me that even without feedbacks we are going to have some warming to deal with in the long term. I like the fact that it’s testable and instantly cancellable.
    But has anyone else noticed that these ships are *tiny*? They quote 300t and 20m high, and judging by the model the LOA can’t be much more than that. That’s about the size of a small barge or a big yacht.
    I’m not sure I understand these Flettner rotors, though… Are they supposed to be solar powered? They mention a turbine for driving the pumps and communications, but surely it can’t be used for propulsion? Leaving aside perpetuum mobile issues, what happens if you get becalmed?
    If you want automatically steerable sailing ships without the hassle of conventional rigging, google for “Walker Wingsail”. Alternatively, rig it as a modern 3/4-mast schooner or even a traditional square rigger and offer free crewing for volunteers. I’ll be the first in the line (did I mention I’m also a Tall Ships nut?)

  59. “After all, they want me to pagan for my use of carbon fuels” Dee Norris
    It would be a lot less expensive if they were pagan. Then they could trust Gaia or whoever with the climate.

  60. Hmm. The paper at
    http://journals.royalsociety.org/content/921mt954r2m2750k/
    says that “… The vessels will drag turbines resembling oversized propellers through the water to provide the means for generating electrical energy. Some will be used for rotor spin, but most will be used to create spray by pumping [water] … ”
    OK, so assuming the rotors are just a very efficient sail, there must still be some stored energy somewhere, and solar top-up, otherwise the first time you need to tack, or get stalled by a big wave, or the wind dies, you’ve had it…

  61. For those of you who followed the link to the Sunday Times article where the author was fulminating on the “Jason” (sic) conspiracy allow me to elucidate. The JASONs are a panel of distinguished scientists from various fields that spend a few months each year studying various scientific problems at the behest of the Defense Department. Sometimes the problems are military, sometimes they are purely scientific, and once in awhile they are about practical matters like what is the best source for the next generation of logic chips.
    They are called JASONs because the panel is in session in July, August, September, October, and November. In July they listen to a bunch of pitches from various organizations seeking assistance with their difficult problems. They select the ones they are going to work on by the end of July and then report out the results in November. Nothing too spooky going on. I have worked with them a number of times and always found them to be interesting since they approach problems in a very pragmatic way from many different directions. They were always a big help to my projects.
    Cheers,
    John S.

  62. I think our work tripled:
    1 – We have to prove that AGW is fiction.
    2 – We must avoid any intervention idiot (stupid) of the “scientist” of AGW.
    3 – We have to make a peace agreement with the greens to avoid the item 2.

  63. Pingback: Cloud-seeding ships? « Sophismata

  64. It approaching noon, and the temperature here in Northern Colorado is 44F, with two weeks of “summer” left. Must be due to global warming. I hope they jump all over this and cool things down further.
    I’d like to go on a polar bear hunt in Estes Park with the next VP.

  65. Patrick: If present trends continue, those cute PB’s could be frolicking in Memorial Park (a bit east of downtown Colorado Springs). Of course, it won’t continue. It could be in the 80’s next week. Or not. Keep your sunblock and snow shovel handy.
    Most of these {omitted to avoid snip} ideas face plant on energy requirements. It will take far more than dragging a turbine or a few solar panels to power this boondoggle. (assuming it doesn’t just tip over and sink) The solar power satellite is a good exmple. Didn’t take much to shoot it down in the 80’s, yet it still has proponents and even a few governments trying to fund it.
    The perception that governments have to “do something” far outweighs anything resembling common sense.

  66. RE,
    I was in Estes Park yesterday looking up at mountains that were buried in ice less than 20,000 years ago. The last few thousand years have been an unusual period where they have been mainly, ice free.
    When you say “of course it won’t continue” what do you base that on? No one understands the climate well enough to predict where we will be 2/20/50/100/1000 years from now.

  67. My word, these ships have generated lots of interest.
    I am not a climatologist, I am not a cloud physicist, so take what I say with a pinch of salt (ahem, sorry about that).
    First, I’m surprised that people aren’t aware that a previous President of the US used to say ‘ It’s the economy, stupid’ to remind himself of a self-evident fact. I use the phrase ‘it’s the clouds, stupid’ in exactly the same way, an addressing of the mirror to reflect something so obvious that it has been ignored. So, no-one’s been called stupid except the person looking in the mirror. Which in this case is me. OK? Maybe Clinton is so long ago people have forgotten him.
    Cloud formation: it’s a long time since I did aviation met, but one of the interesting things about clouds is that they don’t just form out of thin air — the droplets form on a particle, a CCN. It can, as I said, be many things. Dimethyl sulphide is one produced by lots of plankton — Lovelock mentions it in one of his Gaia books. Smoke particles are another. Salt particles are ubiquitous, all over the world, but they are tiny, so small that they’ll have no effect on your veggies, so there’s no need to worry about them (it’s useful to work out how few particles these ships will produce compared to the natural background — the number is miniscule but they’re in the right place to form clouds).
    From the paper we’re discussing: quote Clean marine air masses normally have a deficit of
    cloud condensation nuclei, often below 100 per cm3 and
    sometimes as low as 20 per cm3. The salty residue left after the
    evaporation of a small drop of sea water is an ideal cloud
    condensation nucleus.
    unquote
    Note that small drop is of submicron size, so the salt particle is going to be pretty tiny. Here’s a relevant snippet:
    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=14083689
    A volume of air containing water vapour can be cooled down until the humidity reaches a critical value when droplets form. However, the droplets are reluctant to form unless they have something to form on — you may have seen a really clean flask being boiled with just one sand grain in the bottom and noticed how the boiling bubbles form first on that grain. It’s the same thing, aided and abetted by the fact that some of the CCNs are hygroscopic and attract water. But what happens when there are no CCNs? The air can become supersaturated, longing for something to condense onto. In cloud chambers (that dates me) a passing sub-atomic particle will do the trick, and maybe it can in the atmosphere but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting. That’s why a ship steaming through one of these areas with no nuclei can so readily leave a persistent trail. I hope people bothered to Google “Nasa and ship tracks”.
    Tropical clouds: if you were to catch one of those huge tropical raindrops when it was first beginning to form you would find a CCN there right at the beginning. One of the salt particles generated by a wave breaking on a beach may stay airborne for a week or more. If it’s blown along at ten knots then it can get a very long way. Some of the rain falling on Tampa contains CCNs that have come all the way from China. Follow that Chinese CCN as it gets sucked up in a thermal, its surrounding air is cooled and becomes saturated with water vapour (cool air can hold less water vapour that warm air). A tiny droplet forms on the CCN, the droplet attracts other droplets, before you know it, it’s pouring. But why, you ask, does the droplet dry out in the first place when the particle remaining is keen to get wet again? Because the humidity of the place is dries out in is below the critical level. Some bits of air are dry, some wet. In wet bits, CCNs form cloud droplets. How do we know that a bit of air has reached critical humidity? It goes all cloudy. How do we know that on a foggy morning the air has warmed sufficiently to get below the critical level? The fog lifts.
    (Seven weeks in Florida, six in Singapore and Borneo and a lifetime in the UK: believe me, Tom, I know about rain… Most of your CCNs probably come from the coast but yes, literally, a few of them will be from the other side of the Pacific.)
    BTW, you wrote about the haar quote Isn’t that fog caused by cooler air travelling over warmer water? unquote. In just the same way as clouds form when air cools as it rises, warm air over the cold sea become more humid as it cools. Nuclei at the heart of every drop, you can bet on it. I was using the haar as an illustration of how much heat you lose by being under a cloud. Not the ideal illustration perhaps, but not many people have gone from sunlight into the shade of marine strato-cu. The stuff is strange — sometimes you can see up through it but not down. I once played hide and seek with a fighter above the cloud while we whizzed about underneath: sort of net curtain effect.
    The CCN business is not my idea, it’s long-established and uncontroversial science.
    Flettner rotors: the reason they are chosen is simple — they can be automated easily and they can provide rotation for the device that produces the spray. I doubt they’ll fall over, any more than a tall ship with _its_ enormous top hamper falls over. They work on the same principle as a swing bowler in cricket — I expect there’s a similar system in baseball where the pitcher can make the ball move unexpectedly through the air, and one would expect them to be more robust than ropes and nylon canvas. I’d be interested in more engineering details — I’ve not seen a lot about them.
    I have a certain sympathy with the poster who holds the position ‘it’s not warming, it’s cooling, the climate can cope’. You are not trying to convince me, you are trying to counter some very clever propaganda which has put the science on the back foot. Regardless of the science or data, the AGW case has convinced the politicians. Or so they say. Even the dimmest political hack will look at the unadjusted data (if you can persuade him to look) and say ‘something fishy here’ but he has his voters to worry about, the press, the vast media bandwagon that is Anthropogenic Climate Chaos. One power company in the UK has been given 1 billion pounds worth of carbon credits — do you think they will draw the attention of anyone to a cooling trend? Politicians just care about votes. He or she is in a bind. They’ve got to make the mouth-music or they’ll be out of office.
    This system will allow a politician wiggle room. ‘Let’s just try it and see how it works out’ he’ll say, while thinking ‘buy time, maybe the deniers are right, maybe it’s not a problem. If we buy a few years without going mad on carbon credits and banning drilling and coal extraction, maybe we’ll come out smelling of roses after all.’ Anything to stop the business of pumping CO2 away from coal power stations — it screws the economics and it may even be worse than the disease.
    It’s not science that matters here. It’s not even the engineering. Or the economy. It’s the politics.
    JF

  68. Problems:
    1) The perpetrators of the project will be sued by everyone who suffers some sort of weather-related loss.
    2) No money in it for Al Gore, who sells carbon indulg–er, “credits”, and no money in it for everyone else who stands to benefit from carbon dioxide emission “reduction”. If it’s ever funded, the project would be in addition to all the other nonsense going on, not as a replacement.

  69. Hmmm, “… Flettner spray vessels create more water vapor over the oceans which creates more clouds over the oceans which creates more rain into the oceans, etc.” Now, that’s and interesting feedback loop!!

  70. Let’s see billions versus trillions, and technology that can be simply turned off. Sounds like a bargain!! Of course, we may want to spend the billions on something we actually need.
    Lord, yes. Heck, it we could spend a trillion or two just to get rid of the whole stupid argument, I’d go along. That’s what a big set of solarsynchronous satellites would cost. And they’d work, assuming that there is a problem in the first place. (And they are adjustable.)
    The Stern Review (and, by extension, Kyoto) wants us to cough up half a trillion per year, starting now, to be increased as time goes on. Kiss a third (or more) of GNP growth goodbye! That sort of wealth loss would probably do in our ability to deal adequately with GW assuming it DID exist.
    We need to grow our economy as fast as possible. After half a century of that, the power we have will be godlike in comparison with today. Don’t let’s blow that!
    It’s cheap. Anyone who thinks that 5.3 billion dollars is a lot of money has not been paying attention to the carbon trading figures or, come to that, the loss of GDP caused by fiddling with our power supplies.
    Amen to that.

  71. Let me understand this.
    Actually, only ambient vapor causes global warming. Water that becomes low-lying clouds increases albedo and causes cooling.
    That’s why the CO2 positive feedback loop theory doesn’t work: CO2 IS causing more vapor, but it’s turning into low clouds and the result is homeostasis, not warming.
    Be sure to understand this: It’s the #1 reason why the IPCC is wrong.

  72. Mike Walsh said: “Here ya go…..in the words of Mr Paul “mankind is a virus” Watson himself. … Watson was one of the original founders of Greenpeace, leaving to form the Sea Shepherds because they weren’t militant enough, was affiliated with Earth First, and from 2003-2006 was on the board of directors of the Sierra Club.”
    This hardly qualifies as the statements of a mainstream environmental organization. Of the two mainstream environmental organizations that he has had affiliations with, Greenpeace and Sierra Club, he’s had fallings-out with both. In fact, he was expelled from Greenpeace (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Watson ). As for the Sierra Club, he ended up resigning from the board. So, it doesn’t sound like either organization was very receptive to his views. (As to how he got on the Board in the 1st place, Sierra Club has a very democratic process for electing people to their board which, combined with the fact that so few members actually exercise their right to vote for the Board…let alone make an educated vote…has made it easy for candidates who have a small but well-organized faction of support to get on the Board. In fact, a few years ago, there was a strong attempt by a group of people who were staunchly anti-imigration to stack the board with like-minded people in order to reverse the Club’s neutral stance on that issue.)
    To say that Watson’s positions represent those of the Sierra Club is pretty much equivalent to saying that David Duke’s positions on race represent the Republican Party.
    And, I don’t see why it is “misdirection” to ask you to show these are the views of mainstream environmental groups. Otherwise, you are just arguing that extremists exist on the AGW / environmental side, a fact that noone would debate. In fact, I would be completely justified in ignoring environmental groups altogether and restricting myself to talking about organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ford, Shell, BP, and Dupont, all of whom have endorsed taking significant actions on climate change…and are hence presumably part of the “A0g0w0 gang” that Mike Bryant referred to. I was being generous to him by choosing some of the more politically partisan members of that gang.

  73. Okay Joel,
    That “A0g0w0 gang” was a mistype on my Treo. I am sorry I mistyped. Please forgive me. I accidentally pushed the “0” key instead of the caps key. I am truly sorry. Each “0” should have capitalized the following letter. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I hope that if I type carefully for the next several years, I may at some point expiate this sin of stupidity.
    Thanks for letting me get this off my chest,
    Mike Bryant
    REPLY: Well at least it wasn’t a crackberry. No harm done – Anthonhy

  74. Fernando,
    “3 – We have to make a peace agreement with the greens”
    I am all for this. The non-negotiable parts of this agreement should be (1) The immediate opening of as many nuclear plants as we can put online (2) Of course fossil fuels would have to be used until nuclear is up and running. And (3) Solar and wind must be recognized for the small part they will play in a post carbon USA.
    This should be the absolute minimum a thinking person should expect from the greens.

  75. Joel,
    Is Dr. Hansen a mainstream environmentalist? He is now testifying in defense of ecovandals. These thugs are apparently helping the world by causing damage to power plants. Are these criminals also mainstream environmentalists? Are these criminal actions for the greater good of humanity?
    Thanks for your answers,
    Mike Bryant

  76. I’m very much with Julian on this one
    For the moment, leaving aside for a different thread the argument about whether we have warming or cooling going, and assuming that warming is what’s going on, and assuming we have to do something about it (yeah, pretty assumptive, but let’s just say), then I’m all for this Salter&Latham idea if it can be made to work.
    It’s disappointing to see so many dismiss offhand the idea – Salter&Latham are scientists who (to me at least) seem to have ideas that can work, and that do think through the net effect of their idea (i.e. increase in reflection minus reduction in evaporation and phytoplankton activity, still bringing a net cooling effect – I don’t know this for sure, and may invest some time in reading their papers, but what I won’t do is just dismiss their idea offhand).
    However, the practicalities haven’t been resolved yet, so this is not yet a workable solution (and might never be). From what I can see, what they have yet to technically solve is:
    1. How to produce the minisule salt particles using onboard renewable (solar or wind or wave) power (note that what you need to send upwards is the particles, not the water) – burning flares is NOT the way this thing will work.
    2. How such a vessel can withstand rough weather in the open ocean
    3. Sorting out the auto-controls and navigation system (this should be the easy computerising bit)
    Of course there’s the funding and political problems to overcome too.
    But I’m all for having a go at overcoming the technical issues to see if this can be made to work.

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