Latest nutty Geoengineering idea: Salt the atmosphere

An idea so bad, even Michael Mann realizes it’s a stinker.

Sprinkling large amounts of salt into the atmosphere could stave off climate change, a group of researchers has proposed.

They’ve suggested that, because salt is highly reflective, it could potentially reflect sunlight back into outer space, helping to cool the Earth, they wrote in a report presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas on March 21.

But other climate scientists aren’t so sure. This idea falls into the category of geoengineering — a deliberate, large-scale attempt to change the environment as a means to counteract climate change.

“It’s an interesting idea,” Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of meteorology at Penn State, told Live Science. But “most of these [geoengineering] schemes,though potentially appealing at the surface, are seen to be fraught with potential unintended consequences when you look at them in more detail.”

The salty proposal is more of a last-ditch effort that could be used to offset climate change, in case humans fail to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, such as those of carbon dioxide, that are contributing to Earth’s rising temperatures, Science magazine reported. The idea is to seed salt into the upper troposphere, the atmospheric layer most commercial airplanes fly over because of its weather conditions and clouds.

The idea was put forward, in part, by Robert Nelson, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, a nonprofit whose scientists study planetary systems, including the solar system.

Their proposal is hardly the first geoengineering idea out there. Other scientists have considered injecting tiny particles known as aerosols into the stratosphere, the region above the troposphere, as a way to cool the planet, Science magazine reported.

More at Livescience here


Here’s the study:

https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2018/pdf/1834.pdf

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87 thoughts on “Latest nutty Geoengineering idea: Salt the atmosphere

  1. Spreading salt everywhere might well have unforseen consequences – it’s very corrosive and it’s a good way to kill plants.
    I’ve got a better idea – why don’t we train everyone to hold their breath, gather up all the atmosphere and send it off to the cleaners….? Grants to the usual P.O Box No….

    • My husband recommends each human hold their breath for two minutes per hour, and we each be required to wear a cork so we can’t pass gas. There will have to be a lot of big corks for those cows out in California.

      • Update: his new recommendations are 1) get the sun some sun glasses 2) aerosolize SPF 50 into the atmosphere

    • Salt is also quite effective in corroding airplanes, too. It would be doubly effective – it would reflect solar energy, and it would ground all those CO2 spewing airliners.

      • Noooooo! Not that! Anything but that! No more Climate Conferences! Oh, The Agony, The Pain … The Torment … no more Frequent Flyer Miles … Aaaaaaarrrgh.
        Maybe that’s an idea to be considered …

  2. Good idea! Would add flavor to all of the vegetables, and encourage everyone to eat more of them. Maybe include some melted butter too.

  3. On a completely unrelated note, I’m working on a pleasantly tedious project and listening to a Dr. Tim Ball talk as I work. The man is hilarious! What a treat 🙂

  4. It gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘salt of the earth’, doesn’t it? As this looney idea was presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, perhaps the authors misread the name of the conference as the Looney and Planetary Science Conference. If so they completely succeeded, didn’t they?

    • Ever thought about why Syria, and Palestine are mostly desert?
      Salt.
      At the defeat and expulsion of the Crusaders, the victorious Mamelukes salted the earth.
      But then, who needs food? There’s plenty at MacDs. And if they left out the salt all you need to do is take it outside, and wave it around until it’s salted to taste. Think of the savings!

  5. I remember seeing this geo-engineering proposal 10-15 years ago in Popular Mechanics, with robot autonomous ships powered by vertical egg beater windmills using the energy to shoot salt water high up into Earth’s atmosphere, with the salt precipitating out of the misty ocean water. Seems like the idea is being recycled. But salt is probably a dumb idea. Gets into everything and messes stuff up.
    I am not against some novel geo-engineering projects per say, if firstly, they could somehow pay their own way with some byproduct i.e flooding the Dead Sea or the Qattara Depression Project, to eventually perhaps maintain ocean levels.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qattara_Depression_Project

  6. If they really want to get rid of the Ozone layer, then this is the way to do it ! The Ozone hole over Antarctica is partly caused by chloride that gets into the upper atmosphere from sea-spray where ice freezes and thaws around Antarctica.
    We have to ban geo-engineering for climate purposes at once. As long as we don’t know the natural cycles of gases in the atmosphere and in the ocean, let Nature do her own job, LEAVE THE BIG SYSTEMS OF NATURE ALONE !

    • But Nature has only a few billion years of experience in these matters, and Humans….
      Oh, never mind.

    • Why pick on the Antarctic Ozone “Hole?” It’s over one of the world’s largest deserts, all 14,000,000 sq kms of it, with a population of only about 1000 humans (and millions of penguins…). Those humans are transients who don’t need to stay, so that so-called “hole” is doing no harm. It causes no skin cancers and no cataracts. It harms no Polar Bears (there aren’t any). It’s just there, assiduously mapped and recorded to “prove” CFCs (and now CHCs) should stay banned …
      It’s possibly the victim of as much pseudo-science as The Climate. It wasn’t discovered by the British Antarctic Expedition in 1984 as so widely trumpeted, it was known to Charles Dobson (and a few others) in the 1950s as the “Antarctic Anomaly.”
      Leave it alone. It’s doing no harm and I’m sure the penguins don’t mind.

      • The Ozone hole theory was the 1st big scam that has cost a lot of us car owners because of the banning of freon. Now we have the CO2 scam which is costing one hell of a lot more.

  7. The energy needed, enormous costs and technical challenges in producing, preparing ultrafine particle sizes, transporting and broadcasting billions of tons of salt aloft are staggering. No engineers were disturbed in this half-baked conception. They should have been laughed off the stage for this Gilbert and Sullivan performance. Some things are so out of whack that even a shoemaker is qualified to laugh, shake his head and say no no Dr that’s just silly.

  8. Atmospheric Geoengineering will do more for sceptics than anything we’ve done to date.
    People will increasingly realise CAWG is the domain of fools and fraudulent scientists.

  9. There are a few problems to consider:
    1. How much would it cost to mine the salt, process it into the appropriate form, and then place it in the upper atmosphere? Who is going to pay for all of this?
    2. Gravity and air flow flow would cause the salt to move into the lower atmosphere and then the ground. Cloud droplets would disolve the salt in water and most of it would quickly come out as salty rain so the salt would continually have to be replenished.
    3. Salty rain and salt falling from the sky will kill plants on the ground and would cause massive starvation. This effect may not be too popular among farmers and those who need to eat..
    4. Breathing air with so much salt in it may be very harmfull to one’s health. Many people may not approve of an idea of deligerately poluting the atmosphere.
    5. Adding salt to the air may cause more rain to fall so as to reduce cloud cover. the reduction in cloud cover may have the opposite effect as to what is entended.

  10. Huh. Mann seems to be describing everything related to CAGW claims and “solutions”.
    Isn’t the usual line that if you put anything in the atmosphere, it will have catastrophic consequences and we will all die? I seem to remember that in the ’80s we were all going to die because aerosols in the atmosphere were killing the ozone layer and the Earth was going to be uninhabitable. Then we were all going to get dissolved by acid rain (and die). Everyone now knows that CO2 is going to heat up the planet and make it uninhabitable and we are all going to die. It only stands to reason that if someone puts salt in the atmosphere, we will all die, perhaps from desiccation.
    Seriously, this is a bad idea. That salt is not just going to stay in the sky, and it is not going to only come down over the ocean. Salting land is a good way to make it unsuitable for agriculture. So people actually might die.

    • We all die anyway. So why not trying having some fun before it happen? “what if I send tons of salt in the atmosphere?” sound like a fun thing to do. Or, not to do.
      Send these guys strong booze and women, Would cost us less than all their Earth-saving.

  11. A Modest Geo-Engineering Proposal.
    Facts:
    1. Solar voltaic panels (SVPs) are at best about 20% efficient converting solar energy to electricity. That’s about 68 watts per square meter.
    2. A polished metal mirror has a reflectance of 0.97.
    3. One square meter of metal mirror can reflect 330 watts of solar energy back to space.
    4. Since SVPs effect on green house gas theoretical warming is by displacing CO2 from burning fossil fuels which is very small on a per square meter basis, reflecting solar energy directly back to space is likely to be 1000s of times more effective in reducing the TOA imbalance.
    Conclusion: It would be far more effective to install metal mirrors instead of solar panels if there is a genuine need to reduce global warming. Also far cheaper as no supporting infrastructure (inverters, wire, switches, etc.) would be required and the mirrors would be much cheaper.
    There might be a bit of a drawback for pilots, but good sunglasses would probably be sufficient.
    On the plus side, if it doesn’t work, the metal mirrors could easily be recycled.
    Problem solved. I will be waiting to hear from the Nobel folks.

      • You’d be surprise. Hell, just look art the outrageous price some ordinary water can be sold.
        You just need the right guy running the sc[insert a/e/u]m.
        Let’s call Elon Musk, before it is too late (that is, before Tesla bankrupt, in a few month I am told)

    • You can be less effective, but more cost effective, with anything white. Plastic, salt, fabric… anything.
      And, while you are joking, this is actually no joke.
      Let me explain.
      ~1% of land is urban area with basically with close to zero albedo because of roof and roads are not white (only a few places already struggling against heat ARE largely white, let them be out of scope). Just turning them white is indeed a matter of ~100 W/m² for them, that is a matter of ~1W/m² for the whole planet. Precisely the supposed effect of a CO2 doubling. All is needed is regulation that roof and road must be covered with white enough stuff, which not more expensive than any other color, so it can be done whether the country is rich or poor.
      But of course, this provide close to zero control over people.

      • Don’t bother with roads. They quickly get dirty and will be brown and black. Roofs are a different matter. Also, the benefit is primarily to the location immediately under the painted surface. As the air is being heated due to the increased reflection, the grand total is a much smaller difference.

      • For road, they can be made gray instead of black: concrete instead of asphalt. Concrete does have some drawbacks, but is not insane.
        Or, in residential area, a canopy would do the trick and pedestrian would benefit
        Or you can just make large use of trees to shade the black of the road .
        Or, you can just ask people, without any obligation of any sort, just for sport, to turn their home and suburb as white and shiny as possible, use gravel alley instead of asphalt, etc. This is what they do all by themselves in sunny countries
        etc.
        Plenty of solution
        Air is not heated so much by visible light as it is by radiation of hot asphalt, so it shows in the grand total

  12. So…to combat the alleged effects of higher CO2 than has been experienced in 2 million years but was way higher before that, these morons want to do something to the Earth which has never been done in its history. I thought these dim-wits were all about the precautionary principle. Or does that only apply when the argument seems to augment their position? Un-flipping-believable.

  13. Brilliant!! In this one paper they have found the missing link between “pie-in-the-sky” and “the-salt-of-the-Earth.” Sort of a Unified Fools Theory! Well, back to the salt mines for me…

  14. I heard today that Australia introduced the Florida mosquito minnow into our waterways to reduce the mossie population.
    Unfortunately, this minnow does not feed on mossies, regardless of its name. Instead, it feeds on the fish that DO eat mossies. OOPS!!!
    Play with nature at your (and everyone else’s) peril.
    PS – mossie = Aussie for mosquito

    • You’d think that after the rabbit and cane toad debacles they’d have finally learned their lesson about importing foreign species. Apparently not.

      • OR
        the lesson wasn’t what you think it was.
        I think the lesson is: you can trust people can do even worse.

      • I had a bio professor who said that foreign/invasive species were introduced in one of three ways :
        1) Accidental
        2) Deliberate
        3) Idiocy

  15. Aren;t we supposed to be using Anthropogenic Global Whitening (the new AGW?) to reduce the temp by painting roads white?
    Maybe the UN can coordinate all of the disparate efforts to save the World before they collectively send us into another ice age.

  16. Salt to stave off climate change? They must mean global warming, or else they think that the salt will stop any change in any climate on earth. Because if the salting leads to a cooler climate, well, that’s also climate change.

  17. The worrying thing is that, with another two tenths of a degree of warming, these lunatics will get funded.

  18. Chemtrail conspiracy theory will get new life on a salty note. The government is going to turn us all into salt cured country hams!
    See, they told us so! The stoners were right all along!

  19. A non-existent solution to a non-existent problem is perhaps best.
    Like the Grand old Duke of York, they can model themselves up to the top of the hill, and they can model themselves back down again.

  20. Gary Pearse wrote
    quote
    The energy needed, enormous costs and technical challenges in producing, preparing ultrafine particle sizes, transporting and broadcasting billions of tons of salt aloft are staggering. No engineers were disturbed in this half-baked conception.
    Unquote
    If you search for Latham, Salter and cloud ships you will find that your engineering objections to the production have in fact been addressed, at least as long as you don’t intend to collect them and fly them up to 40,000 ft. Perhaps you are an engineer. I am not, but the mechanics of salt aerosol production seem well within the grasp of quite simple engineering. Other comments about the damage the salt would do to plants have not looked at the numbers – the amount of salt involved is dwarfed by what is happening already without human intervention – every breaking wave produces tens of thousands of salt particles, many of which are lofted by turbulence into the lower troposphere.
    Delivering the salt to the stratosphere would be the challenge, and then there’s the suggestion that that the high troposphere would be a better height for the process. Delivering there is hardly easier and you can hardly expect airliners to start flying at 25k ft to do your salt dusting for you.
    Would I advocate actually going down this route? No, but not because I see the end of the world happening if we do. I believe there’s a better way of increasing the number of salt aerosols in the atmosphere and cooling the planet: stop suppressing their production by natural processes.
    More salt aerosols in the boundary layer ( 2 or 3 thousand ft above the surface) would increase the amount of stratocumulus cloud, high albedo formations that already cover a lot of the oceans. A polluted water surface, smoothed by light oil and/or surfactants, suppresses wave breaking – Google gives many examples, from Kipling to Benjamin Franklin – and hence reduces aerosol production. Fewer aerosols, less cloud. Less cloud, lower albedo, warmer surface. I’ve flown over the sea a lot, and from white water Atlantic to the grubby Mediterranean the pollution is obvious. I saw one huge smooth abeam Portugal and from forty thousand feet my guess is that it takes a Force 4 wind to induce wave-breaking in a thoroughly polluted surface.
    Before anyone goes down the geo-engineering route we should try cleaning up the surface of the sea.
    And to pre-empt a Mosh drive-by, look at https://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCEAN_PLANET/HTML/peril_oil_pollution.html and
    https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=3275
    More aerosols in the boundary layer will increase albedo and the seawifs data shows how much oil pollution there was – since that data was collected things will have got worse.
    JF

  21. Mann’s quote;
    “most of these [geoengineering] schemes,though potentially appealing at the surface, are seen to be fraught with potential unintended consequences when you look at them in more detail.”
    Pot, meet kettle. The law of unintended consequence applies equally to when you factor everything in.
    Unnecessary attempts to geoengineer this planet’s atmosphere or surface in order to keep the natural climate cycles from progressing and “fix” the climate at what humans think is optimal are vain follies, which cast their consequential costs upon the commoners.

    • THERE’s the rub – who the $%^& thinks a COOLER climate is BETTER?! And based on WHAT EVIDENCE?! History shows us without ANY doubt that warm climate is the BEST climate. They didn’t call the warmest period in the Holocene the “Holocene Climate OPTIMUM” for nothing!

  22. I really don’t get this geoengineering fad – on the one hand we have activists screaming bloody murder that ‘we only have one planet you can’t mess it up’ – yet on the other hand they’re supportive of this kind of crocky scheme, the fallout of which is likely to be orders of magnitude greater than just ‘business as usual’

  23. Eventually humankind will control the climate. It’s either that or Wisconsin, Michigan, New York State, and most all of New England gets covered in ice again.

  24. Fine salts small enough to stay in the atmosphere would be ultra-fine PM2.5 (particulate smaller than 2.5mm). This is currently the species in the agency’s crosshairs as public enemy.
    These people would literally become the biggest polluters on the planet and do it deliberately.

  25. Salting the upper troposphere would put gigantic amounts of chloride right up against the stratosphere. Solar radiation would convert that gigantic amount of chloride into giant amounts of chlorine.
    That chlorine would probably destroy the ozone layer with a speed and efficiency unmatched by the CFCs we released.
    In that story we have a prime example of green thinking, never seeing the consequences of their holy crusades.

    • But amazingly, at the same time, seeing dire consequences where there ARE NONE, like with adding a little extra CO2 to the atmosphere.

  26. How does this idea get past those ready to wave the flag of the Precautionary Principle in everyone’s face?

  27. During my youth at the height of the cold war, we were told about the dangers of a potential nuclear Holocaust with the understanding we should live in a constant state of fear and panic that Reagan would upset Moscow and start a war.
    Aside from the radiation and intense heat from the actual blast, the big scare was surviving because of the starvation to follow due to nuclear winter.
    Seems if greens are serious about cooling the planet, and population reduction, we should consider taunting North Korea into launching one of their misses at California, and then retaliate by turning North Korea into a radioactive glowing piece of glass.
    The amount of material ejected into the atmosphere should be sufficient to reduce the incoming solar radiation enough to cool the planet without causing a full blown nuclear winter effect.
    If we present this to the UN, and highlight that it is to save the planet from run away global warming, I think we can get the rest of the world to support us.
    Thoughts?
    ‘heavy sarc’

    • “launching one of their misses at California”
      Some of those Korean women are pretty cute.
      Perhaps they can send some of them to the other states while they are at it.

      • Indeed, however, it was a typo that worked as a play on words for inaccurate misses.
        Although hitting California wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing either.

  28. I’ve got a great idea: drink unbrellas – plane-loads of them dumped from high in the atmosphere, blocking sunlight on their long, meandering flight down. All different colors too, for that festive look. Then, kids or whoever wants to make some spare change could collect them for cash. It would be awesome sauce. Just put an umbrella tax on gasoline and oil, half-tax on NG, and double-tax on coal. “Problem” solved!

  29. There is NOTHING I fear about climate change as much as what control freak, eco-loons will try and do about it.
    I always think of this line from Stephen King’s ‘Misery’, while Annie was sawing the writer’s thumb off with a meat knife – for his own good:
    “Annie was not swayed by pleas. Annie was not swayed by screams. Annie had the courage of her convictions.”

  30. To reduce the fear of climate change we should, perhaps sprinkle the atmosphere with climate modellers, over the oceans to avoid a mess and so they deliver some real value to the eco syem in nutritional form, stop the grants of the sprinklees.. Climate will improve rapidly as fact takes over from prediction, as well as the saving in taxes. Win Win. Your solution may vary.

    • I like it! And if there’s any remains to clean up, they can make ’em into Soylent Green and feed it to the SJWs.

  31. I think salting the atmosphere is a good idea. I have it on good authority that doing that will destroy the ozone layer. Sounds good!

  32. Take the baghouses off of coal fired power plants and let the reflective ash fly, it’s good fertilizer and does not kill stuff like salt does

  33. Worst idea ever. The Romans used to salt the earth when they were unable to control lands. Nothing would grow there and the people would have to move on. Dropping salt from the sky could only be conceived by morons.

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