Wacky Geo-ingineering Ideas to Save Our Planet

Reprinted from totallytopten.com

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On 12.29.09,  by wmmattler

The solution to climate change lies not in the hands of politicians, but some seriously nutty scientists.

For the uninitiated, Geo-engineering is easiest explained as the plan B in the fight against climate change, in case our politicians and world leaders fail. And as the Kyoto agreement is due 2012, with both Bali and Copenhagen settled disappointments, it is perhaps time for drastic action.

Scientists all over the world are already on it.

10. Ocean Iron Fertilization

“Give me half a tanker of iron, and I’ll give you an ice age” ~John Martin, discoverer of the Ocean Iron Fertilization Idea.

Introduce iron into the ocean’s upper layer and increase the amount of phytoplankton (plant plankton) in the ocean. This in turn will increase the amount of food for ocean life, strengthen the ecosystem and most importantly, take in CO2 and release

oxygen. The problem however, is not just the process but the scale on which it has to be done to make an impact.

9. Cloud Reflectivity Enhancement

Making clouds whiter. How? Apparently the “viable plan” by Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh is to have 1500 special ships known as Flettner ships to spray ocean water into the atmosphere. The ocean spray would work within a concept known as the Twomey Effect. The biggest problem is the lack on ocean nuclei needed due to pollution.

Problem: 1500 honkin’ ships shooting water into the air.

8. Scatterers – Stratospheric Sulfate Aerosols

Release microparticles into the atmosphere at the rate of 1 million metric tons a year through the use of jumbo jets and military artillery. The idea is to reflect some of the sunlight entering our atmosphere, thus reducing warming effects and helping us keep nice and cool. Read more at Wikipedia.

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Tenuc

None of the ideas are as daft as trying to reduce CO2 levels. We know this one won’t have any effect at all!

Louis Hissink

The real wacky idea is the belief that climate change is a problem in the first place – it isn’t.

I’ve got a better idea to save the earth. LET IT FIX ITSELF! What is going through your mind when you think the only way to save the earth from human meddling is to meddle with the earth.

latitude

How in this world did these so called “scientists” get the idea that
all you have to add it iron to get plankton?
Do they not have the slightest clue what they are talking about?
Iron is not limiting in the open ocean
Phosphorus is.

latitude
2010/01/09 at 3:34pm
“How in this world did these so called “scientists” get the idea that
all you have to add it iron to get plankton?
Do they not have the slightest clue what they are talking about?
Iron is not limiting in the open ocean, Phosphorus is.”
From what I’ve read, it depends on which ocean. Atlantic needs iron, pacific needs phosphorus (or maybe the reverse, I forget).

I love it. I would theorize the possibility that the 1940-1979 cooling period can be explained by the millions of tons of shipping sunk into the oceans quite efficiently by attack subs during WWII, and the subsequent rusting of all that iron, feeding the worlds phytoplankton.
Personally I’m more interested in changing the climate of Mars for the warmer than Earth to the cooler…

It'sthesunstupid

I like #8 It says “Thus reducing warming effects and helping us keep nice and cool.”
I’m thinking people would rather have nice and warm at this time. How many people know that a warmer planet is better for humanity?

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

Cool the Earth. Makes sense – people die from lack of heating, energy consumption increases, economies sky dive, glaciers stop melting so water supplies are halted, farming collapses as plants can’t grow, mass starvation quickly follows and people begin to eat each other like zombies.
But hey, as long as the common enemy is human and all animals are equally superior, as stated in Animal Farm, it might be a good idea!

Calvin Ball

Do these noodleheads understand what the ramifications of cutting 10% of incoming radiation are??? This is truly scary, putting serious stuff in the hands of these religious fanatics who are convinced we’re already in a runaway greenhouse hell. An anthropogenic ice age is not a pretty thought.

Ever read Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s novel, “Fallen Angels”? It posits just such a scenario. Theres a free version online…
http://www.baen.com/library/067172052x/067172052X.htm

Leon Brozyna

Save the planet? You’ve got to be kidding!
After reading the ten ideas I submit that what needs saving is human intelligence; it’s obviously failing horrifically.

It'sthesunstupid

So lets say they do a couple of irreversible idea’s and the sun goes through a Marauder Minimum type of event. We would be in a WORLD of hurt.

Mike Ramsey

Putting a screen at L5 couldn’t make the cut? I am disappointed.
http://www.npl.washington.edu/av/altvw138.html
BTW, I think that John Martin was right about how much CO2 could be locked up. But how could you tax it?
http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=34167

DocMartyn

after Iron, copper is the next limiting metal. Crab’s, lobsters and the like use a cooper oxygen binding protein instead of an Iron one and are copper limited. They have switched from using Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase to using the (mitochondrial) manganese one. They also have deleated a few more Cu containing enzymes.
So add a bit of copper to your iron, and the sea’s will bloom, but the whole eco-system will respond in strange ways.

Curiousgeorge

You know what the really sad part is about this kind of nonsense? It’s also being promoted by other media – See the History Channel (Earth 2100 ) for example, or all the other Armageddon crap coming out of Hollywood, Wash. DC. and other centers of popular culture and so called “leadership”. And people will believe it, and start doing this and other equally insane things. I’m starting to believe that it’s turning into a self fulfilling prophecy.

astonerii

I got a better question, because it is one that really needs addressing. If the Earth moves towards an ice age, what geo-engineering ideas would best prevent the advance of glaciers?

SirRuncibleSpoon

The whole zombie thing begins to seriously worry me. Hate to see it show up here in AL Gore’s Holy Hologram. IMO: Our artists function as the culture’s mine (mind) canaries; their increasing presentations of music, movies, books and etc with Zombie themes leads me to suspect there’s something afoot the rest of us, worried about losing weight and apologizing for our recent holiday party misbehaviors can easily miss.
BTW: I have reviewed several recent videos of AlGore; I do believe he represents a Stage 3 Zombie. Still dresses well and moves with a residual degree of naturalness but the voice? That’s the tipoff.
Oh, yeah: Just got home from viewing The Road and Zombieland. Do we really taste like chicken? What exactly are the ethics involved in cannibalism? No immediate family? Neighbors? What?
Everywhere I turn, from Glenn Beck to WattsUp, I see the schematic of a culture in terminal stress stretching before me. I have fitted myself with a homemade aluminum foil hat and spend long hours alone in the basement. Waiting.

RE a screen at L5:
I’ve studied this option, actually, for a report to ESA on the viability of terraforming Venus. One of the issues is that a shade that size would generate non-negligible thrust outward from the solar wind as well as light pressure, as a massive solar sail. The shade would have to orbit somewhere closer to the Sun than L5 to counteract this thrust and remain in balance between the Sun and Earth. There is also the issue that L5 is a non-stable lagrange point, the shade would wind up in an orbit around the centerpoint, which would provide suboptimal shading. On the gripping hand it could be used to generate power to beam to Earth and would do so more efficiently, being closer to the sun.
That said, I’ve conceived the idea of using a magnetoplasma sail (i.e. a magnetic field with plasma trapped in it) as a sort of plasma lens to shape sunlight heading to earth. How you shape the magnetic field determines the convexity or concavity of the optical properties of the plasma. This would allow you to, during cool periods, focus more sunlight on your target planet, and during warm periods diffuse sunlight away from the planet, allowing you to fine tune the amount of insolation reaching the planet at all times and thus freeing the planet from solar instability and cycles.
It would also provide some degree of protection to Earth in the event of a severe CME or other superflare.

u.k.(us)

nice post, can’t wait to read the reply’s 🙂
btw, just drag the broken off ice shelves into the tropics, problem solved!

lowercasefred

astonerii (15:51:40) :
I got a better question, because it is one that really needs addressing. If the Earth moves towards an ice age, what geo-engineering ideas would best prevent the advance of glaciers?
********************
Giant rubber doorstops. The aliens who inhabit hollow earth have them at the ready.

lmg

Al Gore’s Holy Hologram (15:38:08)
You’ve revealed their plan. You will be terminated.

Richard S Courtney

People here are missing the point.
Politicians need a way out. They have ‘nailed their colours to the mast’ of AGW. And the AGW scare is coming to an end.
But politicians cannot say they were wrong to have supported AGW because that would lose them votes. And they cannot be seen to be doing nothing in response to the AGW scare that they have said is a serious threat because that would lose them votes. So, they have to be seen to be doing something.
It is plain silly to say that the politicians need do nothing in response to the AGW scare. They have to be seen to be doing something while – in reality – doing nothing otherwise they will lose votes. And votes are their most important concern.
Funding geo-engineering research while the AGW-scare fades away provides a complete solution to the problem. There is no real possibility that such schemes would or could be implemented if they were perfected (initiation of unilateral implementation of such a scheme by one country would be seen as an act of war by adjacent countries).
Those here who cannot see this are naïve. What do they prefer politicians to do while AGW dies, impose Cap & Tax?
Richard

DirkH

Iron fertilization has been tried by German researchers in JAN 2009 already, under protests from environmentalists (well whaddaya expect) and it failed, see for instance:
http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0129-fertilization.html

cba

Gee, I amazed my favorite stupid idea wasn’t on the list. It should be #1 on all counts.
In short, it consists of lots of thirsty envirowhackos, lots of beer, all on top of lots of high hills on or very near the equator, and the attempt at a slight quenching of the sun at local high noon on the vernal equinox.
Of course, I don’t plan on attending or plan to be downwind of any of those hills.

ALLEN CICHANSKI

WHAT REALLY BAFFLES ME IS WHY (EXCEPT FOR FRAUDULENT HUSTLERS LIKE AL GORE) SO MANY PEOPLE SEEM TO WANT AGW TO BE TRUE. CLIMATEGATE REALLY DOES SEEM TO SHOW THAT IT WAS ALL A FRAUD AND YET SO MANY SEEM TO DESPERATELY HOPE THAT AGW WILL STILL HAPPEN. WHY ISN’T THE WORLD STANDING UP AND SHOUTING, “THANK GOD WE DON’T HAVE TO GO ALONG WILL ALL THIS SILLY GREENIE CRAP”. CO2 ISN’T THE DEVIL INCARNATE, ITS OK TO BURN GAS, OIL, AND COAL, WE DON’T NEED OR WANT CAP AND TAX TO DESTROY THE ECONOMY OF THE WORLD AND SEND US BACK TO THE MIDDLE AGES. WHY DOES AGW HAVE ANY APPEAL FOR ANYONE WITH A SINGLE FUNCTIONING BRAIN CELL?

Ian Innes

In Dores by Inverness with a couple of feet of global warming outside… Brrrr…. it’s cold enough here already.
Idiots

eo

Mitigating global warming should be a good excuse for people who dont want to remove the snow from their side walks and pathways. Local government could tax payers money and even claim credits for leaving the snow as it falls in their terriotries. Snow is very effective in reflecting solar energy back into space. Any estimate ?

lmg

I propose the US unilaterally resume above-ground nuclear weapons tests. This would cause the Russians to do the same. This in turn would cause all the loonies currently freaking out about global warming to freak out about background radiation instead, leaving the earth to regulate its own temperature unmolested.

Michael

I give Credit to all those WUWT folks that contributed. Thanks
By Summer: Global Cooling And All That.
http://www.dailypaul.com/node/121050

rbateman

Question Numero Uno: Is the really a dire necessity?
Question # 2: What are the downsides to massively altering the Earth’s Climate?
Question # 3: What happens when the reaction goes too far (now what?)?
Before even considering which options there are available, the above questions need hard answers. If you don’t have them, then you don’t have any business messing with things you don’t understand/can’t control.
And besides all that, there isn’t anything going on right now that has not happened at least twice already in the last 120 years. 1 degree F is peanuts compared to the range of which climate is known to have spanned.
Leave the climate alone.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Michael

Correction:
I give Credit to all those WUWT folks that contributed. Thanks
Food Prices to Double And Triple By Summer: Global Cooling And All That.
http://www.dailypaul.com/node/121050

higley7

I work with an English teacher who is essentially too young to know about the Clean Air Act. He believes that everything that has been emitted into the air in the last 50 years is still there and must be dealt with. Wow! He also spouts a different alarm phrase every time anyone starts to explain why his statements are too broad or uninformed.
He thinks that naturally emitted nitrogenous compounds break down by natural means, but how could it be possible that nitrogen compounds that we emitted in the 60s and 70s be broken down by natural processes? How could it possibly be effective?
He also thinks we lose thousands of species a day to extinction and how could planting trees in rows possibly be good? He is against cutting down virgin forests and so am I, but planting trees in rows and having tree farms apparently cannot be good.
The new green idea appears to be not to use wood for anything. So, using renewable resources is not green? I am so confused! What do they want us to use for toilet paper? Plastics, saw grass, or their arms?

I saw something on the Green channel I think. It had this billionaire Kevin O’Leary (or something like that) funding this guys effort to create billions of little refractor discs to scatter sunlight. They even made the discs and were seeing if they could withstand a rocket launch (they couldn’t.)
What a bunch of whackos. I agree with the above poster that we need to address the world’s idiots first.

DirkH

“eo (16:14:39) :
Mitigating global warming should be a good excuse for people who dont want to remove the snow from their side walks and pathways. Local government could tax payers money and even claim credits for leaving the snow as it falls in their terriotries. Snow is very effective in reflecting solar energy back into space. Any estimate ?”
Write a proposal to the UN. You might earn some carbon credits under the CDM framework (clean development mechanism).

Better yet, paint your walkway white…

What amuses me is that it was only a few years ago that the alarmists were four square against any geoengineering proposal as a solution, as they evidently wanted their socialist agenda implemented to put us all back in serfs smocks instead. I suppose now that they’re vested in geoengineering joint stock ventures, they have changed their tune.

Honest ABE

I think I like the reflective space ship idea the best. The quotes price tag, $100 billion a year, which wouldn’t be nearly as bad as the cost of cap and trade/carbon tax schemes. Not only that, it should be completely reversible and it would greatly increase our technological savvy.

latitude

Not at all Doc
“So add a bit of copper to your iron, and the sea’s will bloom, but the whole eco-system will respond in strange ways.”
Nitrogen can be fixed – atmosphere.
Phosphorus is limiting in all open oceans. It’s made that way. It it didn’t, it wouldn’t work.
Nitrogen fixation is done by things that also are limited by P.
When you add anything like Cu, Fe, etc you just cause something else to become limiting.
Liebig’s law of the minimum, which states that growth is limited by the factor that is present in minimal quantity.
Adding Fe without adding P will not work.
It just causes something else to become limiting.

Tim

How about some really big pumps at the equator to keep the gulf stream going and prevent the coming ice age?

If you read the article, solution #1 is a knee-slapper: A tank for cow farts. Question is how would they separate out the gas from the solids?… Didn’t I know that someone would come up with that. The real kicker is the writer’s solution, just put the cows into space to reflect sunlight, and then use a space shuttle to retrieve them when we need some meat. 🙂 I don’t think that would work. As I recall the vacuum of space causes the water in biological organisms to expand and the body would explode, that is if it doesn’t freeze first.

Gary P

If the cost of adding iron to the oceans where it is needed is less the increase in the value of the fish that can harvested, then it is a good idea. The CO2 is irrelevant.

DirkH

“lmg (16:20:50) :
I propose the US unilaterally resume above-ground nuclear weapons tests. This would cause the Russians to do the same. This in turn would cause all the loonies currently freaking out about global warming to freak out about background radiation instead, leaving the earth to regulate its own temperature unmolested.”
Even better, we could get a finely balanced nuclear winter effect. As we’re being silly here, a wikipedia link should be allowed:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter
About as efficient and cheap as it gets. You want cold? Have some.

Philip_B

The best geo-engineering idea is to flood the Qatar (Qattara) depression. This would reduce sea levels, increase Earth’s albedo (more clouds and a large area of reflective water) and generate huge quantities of carbon free electricity.
Interestingly, this idea was given serious scientific consideration until global warming hysteria came along, then it was quietly forgotten about.
Cooling the planet and decreasing sea levels through some straightforward engineering is a seriously bad idea to the Warmingistas.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/q771849x20120898/

Sharon

lmg (16:20:50) :
I propose the US unilaterally resume above-ground nuclear weapons tests. This would cause the Russians to do the same. This in turn would cause all the loonies currently freaking out about global warming to freak out about background radiation instead, leaving the earth to regulate its own temperature unmolested.
**********************************
As a bonus, atomspheric testing might also trigger a Nuclear Winter, or maybe just a Little Nuclear Winter. I’m surprised this idea didn’t make the list.
Oh, Carl (Sagan), where are you when we really need your PR savvy, I mean expertise, on planetary warming and cooling? Carl, phone home!

Mapou

They’d better get to work real fast because “climate change” AKA global warming (a rose by any other name…) is threatening to turn Florida into a winter wonderland.
“Unusual weather event”
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100110/ap_on_re_us/us_winter_weather

Mike Ramsey

mikelorrey (15:56:53) :
Cost benefit.  It would cost quite a bit.  And the benefit?  If you turned on concave mode then it might mitigate the summer in one hemisphere but excaberate the winter in the other.  If you switch it to concave mode to make a winter less savere in one hemisphere then the summer hemisphere gets toasted.  And if terrorist get a hold of it ….
And all those charged particals in the solar wind.  What kind of force would they exert?
 I don’t think that messing with mother nature is a good idea.
Mike Ramsey

kadaka

How did #4, the Sulfur Dioxide hose, get pegged at a “300 trillion dollar bill”?
When mentioned in SuperFreakonomics, as mentioned here, it was $20 million initial, $10 million annual budget. The linked Treehugger article talks about another guy who proposed it with a $50 billion cost.
However, as to how “wacky” it really is, well, first off here is an Oct 16 2009 article (before Climategate!) from the Freakonomics site describing the smear campaign against them over it.
Lastly, from this Treehugger article, I present examples of the prestigious and authoritative critics arrayed against the concept. Consider them as you will.
(…)
From there, the book goes on to make misleading claims about solar panels, geoengineering, and about the nature of climate change itself. The book’s authors, Stephen Levitt and Stephen Dubner, even misquote the only climate scientist they interviews. Prominent climate blogger Joe Romm of Climate Progress caught the book’s many errors while reading through a review copy, and posted the high voltage (and lengthily titled) critical post Error-riddled ‘Superfreakonomics’: New book pushes global cooling myths, sheer illogic, and “patent nonsense” — and the primary climatologist it relies on, Ken Caldeira, says “it is an inaccurate portrayal of me” and “misleading” in “many” places.
Romm’s post (well worth a read) was inflammatory but mostly right on–almost immediately, luminaries like Paul Krugman, Berkley economist Brad DeLong, the scientists at RealClimate, and countless others sided with the view that SuperFreakonomics mangles climate science.
(…)

u.k.(us)

poke fun at these scientists if you will, but they are trying to save the world. it’s not all about government funding.
until they get it.

@Dr. Bob (16:30:17) :
Sometime ago i made an back of the envelope calculation about launching sunshades into space, that it required some 200.000 launches in 5 years time, that’s about a 110 launches a day and with a failure rate of about 2.5% (wich is about the rate at wich Russian R7 rockets fail) would result in 2 or 3 failed launches each day.
To bad for those living under the launch trajectory.
Other solutions:
3. A dam in the Beringstrait, cold water into the pacific, warm can not flow back.
2. Nudge the Asteroid Apophis to hit the earth instead of missing it.
1. The most simple solution would be off course to launch a few nukes, you don’t need a full exchange of the nuclear stockpile.

Bruce Cobb

Richard S Courtney (16:07:31) :
People here are missing the point.
Politicians need a way out.

They have one – the door. Many will be booted out it come election time.

Jeremy
Daniel H

The idea to fertilize the ocean with iron was the subject of a controversial 1991 paper by Fred Singer and Roger Revelle. It was the last scientific paper to be published with Revelle’s name on it prior to his death in July 1991. The controversy stems not from the ocean seeding idea, but from a statement made in the paper’s conclusion: “The scientific base for greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time. There is little risk in delaying policy responses.” This contradicted what Al Gore had claimed in his book, _Earth in The Balance_, that Revelle was essentially an alarmist who inspired Gore to carry on the fight to stop global warming while Gore was his pupil at Harvard. It’s a fascinating story that ended with a libel lawsuit. Fred Singer gives his account of the story here: http://media.hoover.org/documents/0817939326_283.pdf
The man who lost the libel lawsuit, Justin Lancaster, has since released his own version of events that is contrary to Singer’s. Not surprisingly, Lancaster’s account is viewed uncritically by alarmists:
http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/11/the_real_truth_about_the_revel.php
http://home.att.net/~espi/Cosmos_myth.html
It’s interesting to note that Lancaster posted a complete transcript of Singer’s deposition but neglected to post any record of his own.

Eric Gisin

There are three limiting elements for plankton: Fe, P, and Cr (B12).
Idea #11: Get everyone on the equator to jump up&down at noon, putting earth into higher orbit.