Pielke Senior on Geoengineering

Guest post by Dr. Roger Pielke Senior

Comment on The BBC News Article By Richard Black On Climate Geoengineering

There is an article on BBC News on April 6 2011 by Richard Black titled

Climate ‘technical fix’ may yield warming, not cooling

The article starts with the text

“Whitening clouds by spraying them with seawater, proposed as a “technical fix” for climate change, could do more harm than good, according to research.’

Whiter clouds reflect more solar energy back into space, cooling the Earth.

But a study presented at the European Geosciences Union meeting found that using water droplets of the wrong size would lead to warming, not cooling.”

This article further underscores how little we know about the climate system. To deliberately alter the system by geoengineering is, therefore, quite a risky approach. The reason it is even being considered is that there remains the assumption that added CO2 is the dominate climate forcing that can “disrupt” the climate system from its current equilibrium.

Such a static view of the climate is not supported by observations (e.g. see) yet this simplistic view persists as illustrated by the 2007 IPCC, and, more specifically by the BBC news article. In the article it is written [highlight added]

“In an era when many climate scientists are frustrated by slow progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cloud whitening has sometimes been held up as an example of a technology that could make a real difference, at least to “buy time”.

The technique’s prospects depend crucially on how droplet size affects reflectivity It has been calculated that a fairly modest increase in the reflectivity of these marine clouds could balance the warming from a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – although even proponents admit it would do nothing to combat the other major consequence of carbon emissions, ocean acidification.”

One of the interviewees for the news article does realize this is a complex issue. As Richard Black writes

“…Piers Forster from the UK’s University of Leeds, who is leading a major UK project on geoengineering techniques, suggested more research would be needed before cloud whitening could be considered for “prime time” use.

“The trouble is that clouds are very complicated; as soon as you start manipulating them in one way, there are a lot of different interactions,” he said.”

The statement that “a fairly modest increase in the reflectivity of these marine clouds could balance the warming from a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”  illustrates the failure of many to understand the real behavior of the climate system. Even with respect to just the radiative forcing effect of aerosols, in addition to any global average forcing,  it is spatial heterogeneity that matters much more than a global average in terms of how weather and ocean patterns could be modified.

As we have shown with respect to inadvertant inputs of aerosols into the atmsophere by human activities; i.e. see

Matsui, T., and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2006: Measurement-based estimation of the spatial gradient of aerosol radiative forcing. Geophys. Res. Letts., 33, L11813, doi:10.1029/2006GL025974.

in regards to their effect on atmospheric circulations in the tropical and subtropical latitudes, in our study, their influence is ~60 times that of the radiative effect of CO2.  The deliberate insertion of aerosols for geoengineering would similarly have a large effect on circulation patterns. There is no way to balance the effect of CO2 and of aerosols with the approach discussed in this paper. Adding aerosols as part of geoengineering is not a “climate fix” but a recipe for climate disruption.

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Anything is possible

“To deliberately alter the system by geoengineering is, therefore, quite a risky approach.”
_____________________________________________________________
LOL! A masterful piece of under-statement, Sir.
“Complete and utter idiocy” would be my description.

John Marshall

Any of these so called ‘geoengineering, fixes prove that those suggesting such have seen too many Sci Fi films, such as Alien for example and what bother those people got into.
They need to ‘get real’ because natural processes are far more powerful than man’s ability to fix anything, by many orders of magnitude.

Jack Maloney

The law of unintended consequences applies in the most dangerous of situations. Trying to “engineer” a dimly understood and chaotic climate system is the ultimate lunacy.

vboring

It could be a good way to control or create rain, though.

G. Karst

Richard Black is a misinformed idealist fanatic, who will print any and all propaganda, which furthers his dangerous beliefs. He has been extremely busy lately, publishing every AGW claim he can get his hands on. If an article has his name on it… It can be safely dismissed. GK

Joe Crawford

You use to be able to write off something like this as being just another cockamamie research proposal dreamed up in order to get funding. But, with the current crop of Simonian (as in Herbert) “true believers” now running government and the NGOs, it’s scary… someone just might actually try to implement it.

Holbrook

The ego’s of these maniacs takes some beating, we have had no warming for 13 years and they carry on as if nothing had happened.
When we look back at some of the dreadful things human beings did to each other in centuries past and things such as King Canute commanding the sea to stop we either shake our heads in disbelief or laugh.
What is going on in the area of climate “science” is beyond just about anything we have seen…and this is happening when we have a “free press” allegedly full of very intelligent people.
It is not that this guy wishes to solve a problem it is the fact he believes we have a problem in the first place that gets me.

Ian E

Anyone else reminded of the old lady who swallowed a fly?

Joe Crawford

I also love the picture. That craft would turn turtle in anything over a fresh breeze.

TimC

As the Black article already ascribed to Piers Foster “[the injected drop] won’t stay that size for long – it will spread out …” – particularly when the drops are first to be projected (fired) at least 5,000 feet upwards, from sea level.
And, if done on anything like a geological scale, how are coastal landowner’s private law nuisance claims for loss of amenity/sunlight to be dealt with? This would be simple in the UK, but in the US would the commerce clause give jurisdiction to the US government?

Mike Bromley

“In an era when many climate scientists are frustrated by slow progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cloud whitening has sometimes been held up as an example of a technology that could make a real difference, at least to “buy time”.
What utterly meaningless drivel. Those poor ‘many’ climate scientists. All frustrated and stuff. And while “sometimes” held up as a solution, equally so, llama-loads of other wacky and pointless ‘solutions’ troop through the endless media stupor to be recycled once again, because they “could” make a real difference. Buy time? For whom or what? Let the insanity continue!

Interstellar Bill

Before rejecting marine clouds, please consider the benefits of humidifying an onshore wind with vertical-axis spray turbines, configured like Hula-Hoops:
http://www.portaleso.com/portaleso/modules/Noticias/Almacen/Maquinacapazdecrearnubesdelluvia30-03-2004-19-47-23/shs_rain_paper_Feb.pdf
This would greatly increase the likelihood of rain on land.
Not for geoengineering, but for droughts, the cure of which is humidification of the air going to the drought-striken region.

Why geoengineering? There is no climate catastrophe approaching that would require it. As a matter of fact, there is no anthropogenic global warming, that famous AGW we are constantly propagandized about. How do I know this you may ask. I know this from satellite temperature measurements that have been available for 31 years and yet are totally ignored by NASA, NOAA, and the Met Office. They show the eighties and the nineties as a period of rising temperatures called the late twentieth century warming. That is the warming that Hansen testified about. Satellites see it as a period of oscillation about a fixed mean, up and down by half a degree for twenty years. There were five temperature peaks in this period and they correspond to El Nino events in the Pacific. And the low points between them designate intervening La Ninas. If you compare the satellite curve with say HadCRUT3 from the Met Office at high resolution you see that these same El Nino peaks are also present in this curve. The first four even have the same height. But where they differ is in the valleys in between the peaks. These have been made shallow and this gives their curve an upward slope they call warming. NASA is similar but NOAA goes a step further and completely eliminates all La Nina valleys. After 1998 there was a short spurt of warming that raised the global temperature by a third of a degree and then stopped in 2002. This was the only real warming within the last 31 years but all three temperature custodians fake a warming in the twenty-first century that did not happen. GISSTEMP even goes so far as to designate 2005 as warmer than the super El Nino of 1998 which is absurd. The twenty-first century began as a warm temperature plateau which ended with the 2008 La Nina cooling. That signified resumption of ENSO oscillations the super El Nino had interrupted. With ENSO in control we can now expect an alternation of warm El Ninos and cool La Ninas but none of the warming that IPCC computers are still spewing out. For more information read “What Warming?“ available on Amazon.com.

Only in the minds of eco-loons can you fix humans altering the planet’s atmosphere by altering the planet’s atmosphere. These are same people that said Freon (R-22) was bad, but Puron (R-410A) is good. Oh, but Puron is a much more potent greenhouse gas. There is no logic or reason, just agenda.

Greg Holmes

Crazy, just crazy. As an Englishman I am astounded that we in the UK are still wandering around looking at our navels on this subject. I recently wrote to my MP on the subject of the IPCC nonsense, he wrote back a rather nice letter saying “tell as many people as you are able”. Good news , all MPs are NOT believers.

Steve Keohane

Anything is possible says: April 15, 2011 at 7:58 am
John Marshall says: April 15, 2011 at 8:08 am

I think you said all that need be said about this.

derise

The government of Iran, being advocates of Geoengineering and true believers in Global Warming, have been working hard at developing methods to help lessen the effects using Nuclear Devices, exploded in the atsmophere. I believe their political and spiritual leaders have assisted their scientific community in determining the position in which the greatest effect in the “Climate” can be attained. I’m sure that if Iran can reach their goals, others in the region will assist in similar endevors.
In short, any attempt at geoengineering could be best describeds as..short sighted? No, stupid works much better.

Elizabeth (not the queen)

It’s still winter here, for goodness sake. We got 5 inches of snow yesterday, on top of the foot of snow we still had, and temperatures are below zero C. Despite all of this global warming, our region’s plant hardiness has never changed from a zone 2. This means we are limited in the fruits and vegetables (perennials, trees, etc) we can grow. Our growing season does not begin until the end of May, with frost as early as late August. We do not want more winter here!
These people need to get a reality check and policy makers need to stand up to these scientists, who are so eager to apply their theories without any real understanding of how they work, let alone how the climate system works to begin with. Should their experiments result in our hardiness zone extending down south, across Canada and into the US, there will be very real problems supplying the population with food.

John V. Wright

COLOUR THEM SHAMELESS
Dr. Pielke Snr. writes:
‘Such a static view of the climate is not supported by observations (e.g. see) yet this simplistic view persists as illustrated by the 2007 IPCC, and, more specifically by the BBC news article.’
Er….Dr. Pielke….this article is by Richard Black. Richard Black. You must know this guy. No? Ok, Ok, let me try to describe him. He is basically the BBC’s version of Louise Gray. You remember, the hilarious Daily Telegraph who trots out any old piece of eco claptrap as long as it is on the right sort of Press release headed paper? That’s the girl. Well, Richard Black is roughly the equivalent.
Both are able to set intelligent lifeforms giggling uncontrollably at their ‘informed’ journalism. Black has some excuse as the BBC has forbidden its editorial staff to deal even-handedly with AGW skeptic material. The Daily Telegraph provides some balance to Gray’s childlike writing by allowing James Delingpole to write a truly informed blog on the same website.
Gray. Black. Green. What exactly IS the colour of shameless?

JPeden

These would-be Geoengineers are obviously deranged. Maybe they should work on saving their own minds first?

Mike Bromley

Interstellar Bill says:
April 15, 2011 at 8:50 am
Before rejecting marine clouds, please consider the benefits of humidifying an onshore wind with vertical-axis spray turbines, configured like Hula-Hoops:

Line from the abstract:
“Calculations show that some remediation may be possible using a mechanism that can be controlled to suit local needs”
Paraphrased: [Models] show that some [expensive twiddling] [may, could, might] be possible using a [conjecture] that can (!!) be controlled to suit local needs [while costing billions].
I do hope that /sarc was intended…? What about all the sea salt that becomes airborne along with the sea mist? How many bloody Hula-hoop-heaving, topheavy, fuel-guzzling fog-boats will it take? These desert areas, were they ever burgeoning agricultural wonders?

John Mc

Reminds me of a Star Trek movie, when the alien space ship vaporized earth’s oceans and Captain Kirk had to go back in time to bring the whales forward in time to save the earth. Let’s just invent a time machine so us humans can go back in time to save ourselves from climate change. Our you crazy as Doctor McCoy said when Kirk made the proposal.
These people are crazy, I rather think in another 500 years that we humans can go and find a new planet to ravage. I don’t think I’d rather go back in time 500 years, maybe forward in time 500 years when all the BS is over.

Latitude

I’m too old for this………
I’ve always believed that a large majority of people are either crooked liars, or total morons…..
….I don’t need proof

Mike Croft

It looks to me that with very little modification it could be made to play Calliope music at the same time. This would allow their circus to accompany themselves.

Owen

People proposing to geoengineer the climatic system are INSANE. Stop treating them as if they are normal human beings, they aren’t, they are dangerous fools ! Lock them up in the funny farm. I’m tired of being subjected to their mindless pseudo-intellectual drivel.

Sean

Looks like a technology that could be verified with a prototype. Preferably over someone you do not care about like Bikin attol. Unlikely to save the world but would be a great tourist attraction and we might learn stuff about clouds.

Dave Worley

I say let the hollywood elite invest their money on those ships.
The ships won’t really have any more than a localized effect and will serve as a good diversion for the investors…..boost their self-esteem a little.
So long as the taxpayers don’t become the investors. Stay out of my wallet than you.

Lady Life Grows

We WILL alter the climate. One of the reasons for all this nonsense is that Mankind knows that, deep down, and is trying to be responsible about it.
Worshipping lies and wild speculations–AGW–is not being responsible. Neither is this loony proposal.
Earth has enormous deserts and mixing organic matter in at the edges, plus letting them lie fallow a lot, will result in gradual re-greening of those deserts. These deserts were originally created by man, not rainfall patterns. Either we’ve had an atomic age before, or we destroyed our lushest grasslands by overgrazing thousnds of years ago. Either way, we are going to fix it, and that will alter rainfall patterns most considerably.
We will have some unintended consequences to fix, but the overall result will be a doubling of land biomass from the turn of the millennium. That will mean plenty of food for people, provided we bring the remaining wild reproducers into ZPG or slow population growth. And more important to the watermelons, it will mean greatly increased biodiversity and more wildlife.

Rhoda R

Actually Owen, I’m less concerned about the insanity of the engineers coming up with this solution than about the non-engineers who might take it seriously. I don’t know too many engineers (and I’ve known quite a few) who wouldn’t take this on as an intellectual challenge, just for laughs. I suspect that some of the engineers behind this floating sea disaster waiting to happen are as appaled that it’s being taken seriously as are you.

jorgekafkazar

Ian E says: “Anyone else reminded of the old lady who swallowed a fly?”
Perhaps she will die.

Ian W

Interstellar Bill says:
April 15, 2011 at 8:50 am
Before rejecting marine clouds, please consider the benefits of humidifying an onshore wind with vertical-axis spray turbines, configured like Hula-Hoops:
http://www.portaleso.com/portaleso/modules/Noticias/Almacen/Maquinacapazdecrearnubesdelluvia30-03-2004-19-47-23/shs_rain_paper_Feb.pdf
This would greatly increase the likelihood of rain on land.
Not for geoengineering, but for droughts, the cure of which is humidification of the air going to the drought-striken region.

Believe it or not nature has already provided models of this with hurricanes coming on-shore and dropping inches worth of salty water. Plants used to growing well inland do not take well to raised salinity and die. Or to quote a recent post by Joe D’Alio at
http://www.weatherbell.com/jd/?p=715 :
“The wind-driven rains carried dissolved ocean salt, which damaged vegetation 50 to 100 miles inland. There were reports of a sea-salt residue on windows in Montpelier, Vermont.”
Yet again we are reminded that a jobbing gardener with no GED has more knowledge of botany than any number of PhD’s in climatology.

gman

I think this has to be OKed with the union of hurricane and cyclones.

Willis Eschenbach

Yeah, I discussed this farrago of an idea about a year ago at “Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud“. There I described it as a “non-viable non-solution to a non-problem”.
Dr. Pielke (as usual) is right, this time about the unknown nature and outcome of such experimentation. I merely showed that even if they were correct, their goofy plan still wouldn’t work.
Now, back to the real world …

Keith Wallis

“Whitening clouds by spraying them with seawater, proposed as a “technical fix” for climate change, could do more harm than good, according to research.”
Indeed.
Particularly if it works in the direction intended by the proponents.

Bruce

“a fairly modest increase in the reflectivity of these marine clouds could balance the warming from a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”
Or, if the PDO positive phase causes a modest DECREASE “in the reflectivity of these marine clouds “, then all 20th century warming cycles could be explained by the PDO and CO2 would be irrelevant.
And guess what?
The PDO synchs up really well with global brightening/dimming/brightening cycles.

h.oldeboom

Very nice, very nice. Suppose; it works and we are globally starting to use these geo-engineering technics. Oke, BUT the earth is cooling instead of warming – what I personnally think. What will happen then? Will all these applied geo-enigneering technics do increase the possibility or even trigger a coming ice age?

pat

It is likely such a plan would have no effect on world climate whatsoever other than some regional disturbance. White clouds tend to self-regulating with reflection balancing insulation. The droplets would precipitate in time contrary to the Warmists hypothesis of ever increasing clouding., dramatically expanding a global warm belt radiating. from the tropics. The addition of so much salt to the atmosphere is problematic. And the energy required to implement this scheme is ridiculous. Should give the old wind turbines and the photovoltaic cells a workout.

Dave

SuperFreakonomics has a chapter which suggests one fairly plausible sounding geo-engineering solution. I don’t remember the details, but it involved injecting SO2 (IIRC) into the upper atmosphere slowly and continuously. The results should have been reasonably obvious fairly soon, and the injected chemical wouldn’t persist very long, so turning it off (if necessary) should hopefully lead to a return to previous conditions.

dragineez

John Marshall says:
April 15, 2011 at 8:08 am
Just to be completely accurate. The movie you want is “Aliens” not “Alien”. “Alien” never touched on the topic of geoengineering or terraforming. “Aliens”, however, had the “Shake and Bake” terraforming colony.

Cassandra King

The BBCs Richard Black has clearly chosen which CAGW cultist faction he supports, the article is not important for its toe curling pseudo science, that is par for the course and a common feature of Blacks output. No, what is of interest is the faction split between the whack jobs of geo engineering and the whackjobs of de industrialisation and de population. One pot of money and two factions fighting for it? There is no room for the two competing theologies as one precludes the other. Here is a paragraph from the article which has it all, its the full Monty.
“It has been calculated that a fairly modest increase in the reflectivity of these marine clouds could balance the warming from a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – although even proponents admit it would do nothing to combat the other major consequence of carbon emissions, ocean acidification.”
“ocean acidification” no such thing is there? A ridiculed and ridiculous CAGW scaremongering standby, as if to provide some kind of back scare in case the other scare isnt sufficiently scary enough. Then cometh the money shot…wait for it….aaaah there it is. That faction that desires carbon reduction would see an adaptation strategy nullify their entire cause, why reduce carbon emissions if temperatures were lowered? Kinda defeats the Luddite de industrialisation that eco whack job faction A desires!
So you see which faction Black is aligning himself with clearly, at the end stage of every cult you always see factional splits and when this happens it always ends in the demise of both sides. Black is no scientist, he is in bed with groups like the green(shirt) party, greenpiss, regime stooges and fiends of the earth and this is where his stories come from and these are the sources he goes to when he needs commentary for one of his regular servings of mumbo jumbo pseudo science.
There is of course no problem whatsoever with a harmless plant food called CO2, there is no warming and has been no measurable warming for over a decade, the polar caps are normal, the oceans are normal, the mid latitude snow packs and glaciers and rainfall are normal, deserts are shrinking and life goes on as normal. The IPCC predictions of ‘climadoom’ have been proven to be utterly without foundation.
The CAGW fraud is effectively nearing its death throes and all that remains are the sad and pathetic and desperate and the deluded fighting it out like rats in a sack. Its like the crew fighting for control of the helm of the Titanic just as the bows submerge.

Gendeau

The watermelons are NOT interested in any fix that allows the west to continue to have an advanced economy and a free society.
They want control, a techno fix is absolutely no good to them at all.
They want you to have a nice carbon emission credit card that they can control. Of course their travel would be a necessity – that’s different

Peter Walsh

I live close to the sea.
So, tomorrow morning, Saturday, I am going down to the beach and stop the tide.
Then I will do some geo-engineering in my spare time.

Paddy

Every time mankind attempt to be God and manipulate or alter nature they screw things up. Frequently, catastrophes result. History should teach us that geoengineering is synonymous with fiasco and folly.

1DandyTroll

Man, why do you have to be such an old seniority inside-shorts-outgassing outburst for?
I mean these are some kind-hearted-save-the-earth type of people who are very intelligent (they’ve said so themselves) that are activating themselves in engaging people, all over the planet, to donate lots and lots of (tax)money to their goodish (5 bathroom mansion) cause.
So if they want to fiddle with nature, like what the good chaps did in captain Cooks time, or the sovs did in their time, so be it, what, I humbly ask, could go so wrong? (And don’t you mention the Chinese rain-making-turning-to-freezing-to-death-snow making for that one don’t count, because, err, well, they obviously did something wrong, the “Big Oily” bastards.)
:-()

pat

Peter, the only campaign promise Obama has kept is that the seas have stopped rising.

pk

at first glance the ship looks like the latest hype on “windmill power generation at sea”.
c

Jimbo

The Hidden Dangers of Geoengineering
Geoengineering is a seductive idea. Maybe too seductive
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-hidden-dangers-of-geoengineering

DanJ

The great failure of the AGW movement is timing. Had the idea caught on just a few years earlier, before the Internet age, most of us would have believed most of it. I know I would.
The ozone hole/CFC scare is the gold standard for timing and executing a project like this. Everybody now believes banning CFC:s has saved us all from being fried in the sun.
Had these geoengineering schemes taken off in, say, 1999, we would by now clearly see how the climate stopped warming, Atlantic hurricanes all but vanished , the Arctic ice recovered from 1997, and winter snow and blizzards are back. So what if it cost us 10 trilion? It was worth it!

John in NZ

These people remind me of Peter Griffin.
Do not push the button.

Julian Flood

Willis Eschenbach says: April 15, 2011 at 10:41 am
quote
Yeah, I discussed this farrago of an idea about a year ago at “Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud“. There I described it as a “non-viable non-solution to a non-problem”.
unquote
And, IIRC, you got your calculations wrong by a factor of several tens.
Be that as it may, it’s worth looking at the figures calculated for aerosols and asking what has happened to their production since we started polluting the oceans. Leave aside the first result of my favourite theory of smoothing by oil and surfactant (fewer waves so fewer mechanically-generated cloud condensation nuclei), see the collapse of the plankton population and imagine what that is doing to the production of di-methyl sulphide, the plankton-produced precursor of much of the low level aerosol population.
If you look at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=phytoplankton-population, or search on [ plankton population collapse Boyce ], you will find a report about the loss of phytoplankton, Down by 40% since 1950.
We are already carrying out geo-engineering whether we like it or not, altering the nutrient flows into the oceans, their cloud cover, their biology, the very movement of breaking waves. ICM, inadvertent climate modification, is happening.
Dr Curry has mentioned a paper about aerosols above the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. That should be interesting.
JF