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Geoengineering To Cool the Earth Becoming Thinkable

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the well-less-unthinkable dept.

Earth 419

johkir writes "As early as 1965, when Al Gore was a freshman in college, a panel of distinguished environmental scientists warned President Lyndon B. Johnson that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels might cause 'marked changes in climate' that 'could be deleterious.' Yet the scientists did not so much as mention the possibility of reducing emissions. Instead they considered one idea: 'spreading very small reflective particles' over about five million square miles of ocean, so as to bounce about 1 percent more sunlight back to space — 'a wacky geoengineering solution.' In the decades since, geoengineering ideas never died, but they did get pushed to the fringe — they were widely perceived by scientists and environmentalists alike as silly and even immoral attempts to avoid addressing the root of the problem of global warming. Three recent developments have brought them back into the mainstream." We've discussed some pretty strange ideas in the geoengineering line over the last few years.

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Like something out of Robinson's work (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466451)

It's cool to see some of the speculation about the terraforming of other planets now applied to Earth. I fondly recall how one of the strategies used to warm Mars in Kim Stanley Robinson's trilogy beginning with Red Mars [amazon.com] was spreading black dust to absorb sunlight.

Re:Like something out of Robinson's work (4, Informative)

spazdor (902907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466549)

There was an excellent TED Lecture [ted.com] on the topic of geoengineering, given by David Keith. It's a little over 15 minutes but well worth the time, and it skips all the sci-fi platitudes.

Re:Like something out of Robinson's work (5, Insightful)

arpad1 (458649) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466631)

That's nice in a science fiction story but in the real world hurricane modification research was curtailed because of the fear that unsuspected interactions would result in more damage not less.

It seems to me that we shouldn't tinker with the entire atmosphere if we don't have a good deal of confidence we can control one of the constituent phenomena.

Re:Like something out of Robinson's work (5, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466705)

The real problem is the business of the process.

There is too great an incentive for companies to dream up potentially damaging and idiotic ideas in order to secure lucrative government contracts to carry them out. The company then makes a large profit from screwing with the environment in a big way.

It's the same mechanism that results in companies having an incentive to push the country into war; massive mega-contracts that result in huge gains to that company at the severe detriment of everyone else.

Huge dollars going into mega projects like carbon sequestering attract morally bankrupt companies like Bechtel, companies who would strip mine the entire Amazon if they could make it profitable. They put together a reasonable sounding proposal, submit it to the bumbling idiots who call themselves our leaders along with a fat bribe and then go about reaping enormous profit using our tax dollars to fuck up the planet.

There are few things that anger me more than the privatization of social responsibility.

Re:Like something out of Robinson's work (4, Insightful)

UNKN (1225066) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466927)

"There is too great an incentive for companies to dream up potentially damaging and idiotic ideas in order to secure lucrative government contracts to carry them out. The company then makes a large profit from screwing with the environment in a big way." Not that it hasn't been done before, coal mining and every other resource gathering is/was done in a half assed manner.

Re:Like something out of Robinson's work (5, Insightful)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466745)

We don't know for sure the effects of anything we do to try and combat climate change. Even just reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses to what they were at some arbitrary time in the past does not guarantee that the climate will just go directly back to how it was, it's a lot more complicated than that.

Taking the attitude you express would therefore lead to simply doing nothing, which seems to be a pretty close-minded view. You do what you can via modelling etc to try and predict the effects of any potential intervention. Then you try it on a limited scale, and try to confirm your models. If it seems good, you scale it up. Sure you can't 100% guarantee that you won't cause a disaster, but doing nothing is even more likely to cause a disaster, so the "do nothing" approach is pretty obviously silly.

Re:Like something out of Robinson's work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466881)

We don't know for sure the effects of anything we do to try and combat climate change.

"And" is a conjunction. It combines words and phrases. You can't "try and" something. You mean "try to combat" in this case I believe.

Re:Like something out of Robinson's work (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466951)

It seems to me that we shouldn't tinker with the entire atmosphere if we don't have a good deal of confidence we can control one of the constituent phenomena.

Excellent. Stop using cars and electricity, the rest of us will be right behind you, I promise...

Re:Like something out of Robinson's work (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466793)

Immoral? Immoral? Geoengineering is a moral issue? Since when did Global Warming become a relig--

Oh, wait...

What could go wrong? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466457)

I'm afraid that the researchers haven't considered the possible complications caused by Italians, them and their nefarious ices. Italians might attack, causing dogs to bark and cats meowing, which is freaking annoying when I am trying to read so SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY, TONY!

Perhaps? (-1, Redundant)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466469)

Here's a crazy idea - let's burn less gasoline! Give me a nobel prize!

Re:Perhaps? (2, Funny)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466511)

Not driving alone in your own car everywhere you go is socialist COMMUNISM. We don't need that here in the real America.

Re:Perhaps? (5, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466605)

To be fair, we will have to address a myriad of issues before we are able to effect any real change in the US.

One of my biggest gripes is the lack of community planning since the 1950s. Everyone wanted to live in the suburbs, and now, thanks to the housing construction boom, local governments drunk on property tax revenue, and a complete lack of traffic planning we have broken the back of many of our communities.

I've seen so much of the countryside consumed in this glut of home building it sickens me. I'm not even 30 and I have seen some historical areas and homes purchased by development companies and turned into sales offices. 5000 sq ft homes on 1 acre plots are built while nothing is added to the existing communities. Watching people reward this blight by purchasing or renting these homes and commuting 30-50 miles boggles the mind.

It is a culture of the car. Shops are spaced out almost as much as the homes. The expectation is that you will drive to one business, get back in your car and drive to the next.

The design of our communities is so freaking wasteful it really marks the 'green' movement as a cute fad for people that really don't understand the problems that exist. 'greening' your less than 10 year old subdivision or condo is spending more money for less solution. Save the money and work to bring your community back to one where you don't have to get into your car to perform any sort of activity and you will see a much greater return.

(Now where's my coffee, thats too much of a rant for this early in the morning)

Re:Perhaps? (2, Interesting)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466865)

Reminds of an old WWII PSA poster [andsuchandsuch.com] .

Re:Perhaps? (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466581)

Here's a crazy idea - let's burn less gasoline! Give me a nobel prize!

There is no Nobel prize for stupidity. Otherwise, you're a shoe-in!

The call of "just use less" rings empty in the ears of the people who have no choice but to drive to work, insist on heating their home, or, God forbid, actually like cold air from their AC.

I have a better idea. How about we improve our technology that so that what we do consume, is consumed more efficiently? Don't design my car to get optimal MPG at 55...target 65, because that is highway speed.

Trains use less fuel than trucks, but there is not nearly the capacity to handle the increased load at this time. So, make the trucks more efficient until we get more rails installed.

Consume Efficiently!

Re:Perhaps? (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466649)

The call of "just use less" rings empty in the ears of the people who have no choice but to drive to work, insist on heating their home, or, God forbid, actually like cold air from their AC

I don't think the OP was suggesting that even the people who truly need to drive should stop. But it's patently evident that among an enormous sector of the American population, cars are used when they aren't really necessary. I've watched healthy and hale people in my family drive to places that would only be an easy and pleasant five or ten minute walk away. I've seen posters here on Slashdot claim that reliable public transportation exists in their communities, but they'd rather drive in their own cars than be around poor people.

Re:Perhaps? (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466709)

There is no Nobel prize for stupidity. Otherwise, you're a shoe-in!

I'm sure you'd be way in line before him. Nothing he said indicates that he wants to ban people driving or heating their homes, just that they consume less fuel doing so.

And most people don't NEED to drive to work. They choose to live and work in places that aren't convenient for transportation. You could restructure your life such that you didn't have to drive to work. I did, and I'm happier for it - if only because I don't have to spend an hour and a half sitting in traffic every day. That's not saying that you should be compelled to, just that when you complain that you NEED to drive, you're full of shit.

Here's a crazy idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466617)

You first !

It was Global COOLING in the 70s. (1, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466489)

>>>As early as 1965, a panel of distinguished environmental scientists warned CO2 emissions...

In 1965 and through the 1970s and early 80s, virtually all scientists were Not discussing global warming. They were discussing Global Cooling. I remember sitting in elementary school while the teacher made us read a scary article about "the darkening of the earth" due to increased clouds.

The scientists later admitting they were wrong.

Don't be surprised if in another twenty years scientists again admit they were wrong about global warming. "It's not humans; it's just a natural process. We will now start cooling again."

No they didn't (5, Informative)

Any Web Loco (555458) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466525)

This is a complete myth. Read this and be enlightened - http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94 [realclimate.org]

Re:No they didn't (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466559)

From the article: "I should clarify that I'm talking about predictions in the scientific press. There were some regrettable things published in the popular press (e.g. Newsweek; though National Geographic did better)."

I remember the popular press reporting that we were in a global cooling spell. The lesson to be learned is that you do not rely on the popular media for scientific reporting. The press did a good job of convincing me and others that we were going into a cooling period that could be catastrophic. It mad me leery of the global warming crowd, but a couple decades of solid evidence has 95% convinced me otherwise.

Re:No they didn't (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466659)

It mad me leery of the global warming crowd, but a couple decades of solid evidence has 95% convinced me otherwise.

The evidence for global cooling was just as strong. About 25 years ago we really were going to be frozen into a big ball of ice by 2025.

Re:No they didn't (1, Flamebait)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466707)

No, it wasn't. No, we weren't.

Read the goddamn linked article, will you?

Re:No they didn't (4, Informative)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466849)

I read the article, but I was also ALIVE at that time. I remember folks like Carl Sagan rallying the troops to stop the cooling of the planet (from suspended pollution). No article can erase the memory of the people watching their televisions during the 70s and early 80s.

Re:No they didn't (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466915)

Anecdotal evidence doesn't count for much.

Re:No they didn't (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466939)

So that's "evidence" to you?

Re:No they didn't (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466665)

The lesson to be learned is that you do not rely on the popular media for scientific reporting.

Agreed. That's why I always get my scientific reporting from more reliable non-mainstream sources like this one [weeklyworldnews.com] .

Re:No they didn't (3, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466879)

Global warming happened twice before (during the period of the Ancient Egyptians, circa 3000 B.C.) (and again from the mid-Roman Empire through the Dark Ages), but it certainly wasn't caused by cars, or air conditioners, or oil burners.

Unless those Egyptians and Romans had some secret technology we have not yet discovered.

Maybe it was the city of Atlantis (cue Stargate music).

Re:No they didn't (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466971)

or burning a HECK of a lot of wood ?

Re:No they didn't (4, Informative)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466577)

I was in school in the 1980s and that was all they were talking about, so it may have been a "myth", but they sure were pushing it for some reason...

Re:No they didn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466739)

Unless the solar cycle restarts ASAP they'll resume talking about global cooling.

Unfortunately cooling, unlike warming, actually does have serious consequences. Last time global cooling happened, greenland died out (to the last man), several northern and southern states were abandoned because they had become unliveable. Not "Oh no - Bush got reelected"-unliveable. Actually unliveable as in "" (dead people don't talk, after all). Canada became barely tolerable, and only in the south was there any significant human presence.

Re:No they didn't (2, Insightful)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466653)

What part of sun cycles and sun weather don't you guys get? How ignorant does one have to be in order to look at 100 or 200 years of monitored weather and then decide that the planet is heading towards a global meltdown...all the while in the same breath admitting that this already happened over and over again millions of years ago, telling us that global warming killed the dinosaurs?

This is madness. The big burning ball in the skies warms up the planet. When it doesn't burn as hot, the planet cools down. That is not a myth...I can see it every day I go outside.

Re:No they didn't (0, Flamebait)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466725)

What part of sun cycles and sun weather don't you guys get?

Gee, it's too bad an entire field of science just doesn't get "sun cycles and sun weather"! Good thing you showed up to tell them!

Re:No they didn't (1)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466779)

All there is to know about the weather on the sun is here...read and learn, and tell others who may be ignorant: http://www.spaceweather.com/ [spaceweather.com]

Re:No they didn't (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466845)

"Others who may be ignorant", like (once again) an entire field of science?

It's a shame scientists don't have the internet so they can go to that website and realize everything they've ever done is wrong!

Re:No they didn't (1)

Taylor123456789 (1354177) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466901)

The "entire field of science" except for the 30,000 or so scientists who have signed this petition rejecting global warming:

http://www.petitionproject.org/ [petitionproject.org]

Re:No they didn't (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25467005)

30,000 "scientists", meaning "anybody with a scientific degree". Certainly not 30,000 climate scientists.

Re:Yes they did (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466717)

This is a complete myth.

The target of your own link refers to a NewsWeek article (April 28:th, 1975) [wmconnolley.org.uk] which supports the cooling theory.

The article warns that important food producing areas of the world would be negatively affected by the lower temperature (North America and the USSR(!)).

Re:No they didn't (5, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466753)

From the article you mention:

The state of the science at the time (say, the mid 1970's), based on reading the papers is, in summary: "â¦we do not have a good quantitative understanding of our climate machine and what determines its course. Without the fundamental understanding, it does not seem possible to predict climateâ¦" (which is taken directly from NAS, 1975). In a bit more detail, people were aware of various forcing mechanisms - the ice age cycle; CO2 warming; aerosol cooling - but didn't know which would be dominant in the near future. By the end of the 1970's, though, it had become clear that CO2 warming would probably be dominant; that conclusion has subsequently strengthened.

There is a part that bears repeating: with slight modification:

The state of the science is: "â¦we do not have a good quantitative understanding of our climate machine and what determines its course. Without the fundamental understanding, it does not seem possible to predict climateâ¦".

We just launched space probes to try to figure out why the Sun seems so quiet and cool. This was not predicted, nor is it understood. The many and varied factors that affect our global climate are thought of but not known. I say known in the way that we KNOW why some babies are boys and some are girls. We know that and can do little to affect the outcome of birth. We KNOW about cancer, or think we do, and yet people die every day from it. We KNOW about diet and food based health problems yet people die of starvation every fucking day.

What is my point? It's simple. We do NOT know enough about the problem to clearly and unequivocally state that reducing CO2 will stop global warming or even control it. We do NOT know enough to even begin to know what the problem is caused by. Sure, man's contribution to greenhouse gases obviously has some impact, but we do NOT know enough to say that reduction of man made greenhouse gases would reduce or even affect global warming, never mind saying it would control global climate.

I'm all for energy efficient appliances and so called 'green' buildings and so forth. I'm all for reducing CO2 emissions. I'm all for 'green' coal burning, if there is such a thing in reality. These are all things that put less pollutants into the air. I'm all for doing many of the things that global warming alarmists warn that we should stop doing, or start doing. What I am against is thinking that this is magically going to solve a problem that we have barely any idea it exists never mind how it is caused.

I'm all for doing the things we know are bad for us in the fucking short term, never mind their long term effects. That smog in L.A. - bad idea. Lead in paint and toys and such - bad idea. Ozone emissions - bad idea. Fluoridation of the water - bad idea. Inefficient Internal combustion engines spewing filth into the ecosystem - bad idea. There are literally millions of things that are BAD IDEAS and have immediate consequences to life on this planet that are bad enough to justify the stopping of such things. We do NOT need to cry global warming to have reason to stop them.

Please please please, would someone take the lead and do so with common sense. Lets understand how the Earth's climate machinery works before thinking we can control that machinery. The chances that shifting magnetosphere and solar heating changes have 99.999% of the blame here is as great or greater than the idea that humans have caused this current climate situation. The position of this planet and solar system in relation to the surrounding galaxy has an effect on climate. There are many factors that affect climate or can, that just won't fit inside the 'standard' activist's head. Do these activist go to sleep at night praying that there will be a solar flare tomorrow? Oh god, please help our Sun be normal again?

I'm just asking for common sense. Understand the problem before you begin thinking you can fix it. This is hardly something that governments are good at. Scientists have had to use buzzy sound bites to get any attention for their particular concerns, so the real picture has not been exposed, nor all the players in this game we call the global climate machine of Earth.

Re:No they didn't (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466829)

Fluoridation of the water - bad idea.

Do you have any non-crackpot citations to back this up? Dentists associations nearly universally hail fluoridation as a godsend.

Re:No they didn't (3, Insightful)

PacoCheezdom (615361) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466967)

I think he's more concerned with preserving our precious bodily fluids!

Re:No they didn't (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466985)

Before you ever, and I mean EVER think that science has come up with a golden bullet to cure something that requires constant exposure to a material, you need to sit down and get some help, start looking at it to see just how much it looks like Pandora's Box. Remember thalidomide, asbestos, DDT, or any of the millions of other substances that are supposed to be good for us? Here are a few items with regard to fluoridation:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&output=googleabout&btnG=Search+our+site&q=flouridation%20problem [google.com]

http://www.wddty.com/03363800370654010205/effects-of-water-flouridation-on-thyroid-problems.html [wddty.com]

http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/fluoridation.htm [drlwilson.com]

And a reasonable voice among the din:

http://naturalhygienesociety.org/review/0601/fluoridation.html [naturalhyg...ociety.org]

Remember to ask yourself why thyroid problems are rising. Why autism is rising. Why diseases continue to be a problem when we have 'cures' and vaccines.

Re:No they didn't (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466919)

For the most part, I agree with everything you've written. However, I'm not so sure about the fluoridation one.\

And yet (0)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466975)

real scientists who have been doing the work for 30+ years disagree with you. Imagine that.

Re:No they didn't (2, Interesting)

bugeaterr (836984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466943)

This is a complete myth.

Like the complete myth that all respectable climatologists are on board with man made global warming?
Like Dr. Richard Keen of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) at the University of Colorado.
He has created a power point on climate change.

Read this and be enlightened

http://climatesci.org/2008/10/14/dr-richard-keens-global-warming-quiz/ [climatesci.org]

Re:It was Global COOLING in the 70s. (1, Troll)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466573)

Easy now. That kinda talk will get you pushed back to the far recesses of conversation. Dissenting views are rarely tolerated where global warming is involved.

Re:It was Global COOLING in the 70s. (1)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466701)

Scientific consensus does not automatically equal truth and politics has no place in science.

Re:It was Global COOLING in the 70s. (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466741)

No, lies are rarely tolerated.

Re:It was Global COOLING in the 70s. (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466587)

A long live myth [wikipedia.org] ...

This hypothesis never had significant scientific support, but gained temporary popular attention due to a combination of press reports that did not accurately reflect the scientific understandings of ice age cycles; and a slight downward trend of temperatures from the 1940s to the early 1970s

In his 1968 book "The Population Bomb", Paul R. Ehrlich wrote "The greenhouse effect is being enhanced now by the greatly increased level of carbon dioxide... [this] is being countered by low-level clouds generated by contrails, dust, and other contaminants... At the moment we cannot predict what the overall climatic results will be of our using the atmosphere as a garbage dump."

Re:It was Global COOLING in the 70s. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466885)

"In 1965 and through the 1970s and early 80s, virtually all scientists were Not discussing global warming. They were discussing Global Cooling."

Yes, because on the multi-thousand year timescale scientists are still expecting that -- another Ice Age is expected due to Milankovitch cycles. That hasn't changed. But that's long term. In the meantime, at century scale, we've pumped so much CO2 into the atmosphere that it overwhelms any immediate concern about global cooling. The CO2 will sort itself out eventually (because we'll run low on carbon-based fuels to pump into the atmosphere) and by then, guess what, you're right. We will be worried about global cooling again. Global warming is a temporary spike -- but a spike that will last the entire lifetime of everybody now alive.

It isn't about being "wrong" so much as the difference in time scale. I think of it a bit like being on a train in one of those old-style cowboy movies. Sure, you're worried about the getting off the train before it goes over the cliff at the end of the rail line (the next Ice Age), but in the meantime it might be a really good idea to duck your head underneath that low bridge that's much closer (global warming). It's a more pressing matter that kind of makes the longer-term concern a moot point if you ignore it.

Sigh. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466945)

one scientist suggested a cooling and the press (actually, pretty much tabloids like national enquirer) jumped all over. Nothing more. In fact, more of your neo-cons have made a big todo about this, than the press ever did. And we are expected to cool slightly for the next decade. BUT if not for global warming, we would have cooled more.

What could possibly go wrong? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466493)

Never a more apt tag in the whole of the internet.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466731)

I dunno. Effecting change on a global scale takes a very, very long time and a ton of resources. It's not like global warming started 5 minutes or even 5 decades ago

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466751)

A particularly apt tag for Slashdot, as the article clearly lists many specific things that could go wrong, but to realize that people would actually have to read the article. And we know that isn't going to happen when there's a chance to post snarky memes.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Insightful)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466761)

Just look at how successful the cane toad was in taking care of the cane beetle problem in Australia. Oh wait...

Arrogance! (1)

Entropy (6967) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466497)

Are we really so arrogant that we'd attempt something on so large a scale with so little hard fact to back up such a plan? This is insanity. The hard core environmentalists will have gone too far if this comes to pass.

Re:Arrogance! (1, Flamebait)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466601)

God help us. Nothing of this sort ought ever be attempted. If CO2 causes global warning, then cut back CO2. There's enough argument about THAT without introducing a whole new variable the mix. Whacky untestable schemes have no place outside of science fiction. Anyone with aspirations toward geoengineering needs to be shot for the greater good of humanity.

Re:Arrogance! (2, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466785)

The concern is that we won't cut back CO2 enough (and looking at the current state of things, this is quite likely), and we need a backup plan.

But gee, maybe you're right, that kind of thinking sure makes you deserving of nothing but death, doesn't it?

Re:Arrogance! (1)

IPFreely (47576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466603)

Hell yes.
Whenever we do anything on this large a scale, it's always completely by accident and totally without a plan and with no facts at all. How could anyone suggest that we actually start applying a few facts and a plan to something we are already doing?

Re:Arrogance! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466755)

Right on, my brother! We just need to keep things as they are! It's not going matter. Armageddon is coming soon enough. Praise Jesus!

I'm in favor of a space shield (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466501)

To act like sunglasses... or moving the Earth back from the Sun a little bit.

Mr Burns (-1, Redundant)

Atheose (932144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466723)

Simpsons did it!

Paging Dr. Kynes... (4, Interesting)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466515)

Who knows what will happen to important sea-life species if we go spreading reflective dust in the oceans?

This is Earth; we have more than Shai-Hulud to preserve.

Re:Paging Dr. Kynes... (1)

yakmans_dad (1144003) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466825)

Rising temps aren't the only by-product of CO2 emissions: they're changing the ocean's pH. And not that slowly.

Engineering's fine, but global engineering? without any clear idea of its side-effects? When there's another possibility for action? Sounds like lots of people are addicted to their cars.

Re:Paging Dr. Kynes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466899)

What if they produce a human generate El Nino?. It would make a climatic disarray around the world.

Not usually one to agree with the tag... (4, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466517)

But what could possibly go wrong?

It seems that a lot of our problems are caused by the introduction of small particulates into the air and water. And once we figure out how to reflect 1% of the sunlight and eventually reduce our own greenhouse emissions I have to wonder one thing.

How do you turn it off when we are 'cooler'?

In actuality, I'm wondering a lot of things, but I'm fairly confident that dumping millions of barrels of reflective particles into the ocean is something that will not be high on a popularity poll.

Of course, I'm one of those evil people who isn't as concerned about global warming. Not because I don't believe it exists, but because a lot of the cure appears to be worse than the symptoms. How much will it cost to relocate costal communities over a 50-100 year timeframe, and how much will it cost so that we won't have to do that. Those are some of the answers I want addressed.

I could spend 3 million dollars to make my home hurricane proof, or I could move to Montana.

Re:Not usually one to agree with the tag... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466555)

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.
I dunno why she swallowed that fly,
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly -
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd, to swallow a bird!
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly -
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat.
Imagine that, she swallowed a cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a dog.
What a hog! To swallow a dog!
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat...
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a goat.
Just opened her throat and swallowed a goat!
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog ...
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow.
I don't know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat... She swallowed the goat to catch the dog...
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat...
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse -
She's dead, of course.

Re:Not usually one to agree with the tag... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466643)

After we have done so much to clean up particulate pollution too. Bring back the smog.

Re:Not usually one to agree with the tag... (3, Interesting)

tonytnnt (1335443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466789)

The thing that makes Earths Systems Science and Climate Science so complex is how much they interact with each other. Changing one thing (such as the albedo, which is the scientific term for how much sunlight is reflected) can cause many other things to change which may amplify the effect, or stall the effect. For example, just quick thinking off my head, increasing the albedo of the earth by putting particles in the air would decrease global temperatures. This would increase the area of the polar ice caps. Which increases the albedo more, which cools the earth more. This is a simple feedback. But then there are many, many more feedbacks further down the chain. This is why climate science requires so much processing power to make models of the earth -- everything affects everything else. To answer your question, how it gets "turned off" is that eventually the particles will fall back down to earth, which is dependent on the altitude they're dispersed at and the particle size. But just think of the problems that could cause. What if the particles undergo a chemical change while in the atmosphere that causes them to be a carcinogen? What about those with respiration problems? Will crops be affected? I'm not saying it will cause any of these, but they're scenarios that will have to be carefully studied before ever embarking on planetary geoengineering projects. It's so complicated -- but if it can be carefully studied and simulated, it could lead to huge rewards. Not just for fixing humanity's impact on the earth in the past, but potentially improving the earth for continued growth of humanity. I dare say geology is the science that will have the biggest impact on our everyday lives for the next generation or two.

Re:Not usually one to agree with the tag... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466797)

Gee, you could try actually reading the article and seeing if it answers any of those questions for you.

Re:Not usually one to agree with the tag... (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466821)

Costs vers benefits. Thats exactly what we should be talking about. "cleaning" up CO2 emissions is *not* free. But then *not* cleaning up emissions isn't either. Unfortunately this topic is much more about ranting than informative discussion. Even from people who should know better.

Personally however, our climate models need to be a lot better before we go dumping Gigajoules of perturbations into the system.

Re:Not usually one to agree with the tag... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466863)

What use is moving to Montana if we are unable to produce enough food because of changing climate conditions?

This is the next logical step in climate science (1)

GuloGulo (959533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466521)

This really is the next logical step in climate science. Instead of being a society that reacts to climate changes, we are able to influence them.

That said, you can keep it. I'm just too worried the one climate we have will get screwed up by people with more ambition that foresight.

Another reason to do nothing (3, Informative)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466539)

> they considered one idea: 'spreading very small reflective particles' over about five million square miles of ocean, so as to bounce about 1 percent more sunlight back to space

Or we could just pollute less? It's less risky than turning the Earth into a big science experiment.

There's another risk: That the same same people promoting "Clean Coal" (a big hello to you Australia) hop on this bandwagon as another reason not to do anything?

Re:Another reason to do nothing (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466765)

And West Virginia here in the states. I am presuming that "being green" and "clean" with coal means simply removing the toxic chemicals which would normally be spewed into the atmosphere as part of the burning process. I haven't quite figured out how they are claiming to be "carbon neutral." That one must have required some pretty creative accounting.

If we put as much thought into addressing the problem rather than the symptoms, we'd be a good deal further along. And although I'm happy to be paying less at the gas pump these days, a part of me is unhappy that the drop in oil prices will mean that many new technologies which would had become cost-competitive with fossil fuels are going to struggle to become viable.

     

No need to (0, Flamebait)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466579)

The sun is the coolest it has been for a long time...there is no need to even attempt to do this. What such an attempt would illustrate is (1) the outright arrogance of mankind, thinking that we can actually terraform and manage an entire planet when we can't even handle a hurricane in New Orleans or poverty in Africa, and (2) the attempt by a few socialists to use the green movement to control the lives of others.

The green movement has been long ago hijacked by the extreme left. Wake up people!

Re:No need to (2, Interesting)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466781)

So funny, on RevLeft there is a "socialist" who argues the opposite. That the "Green movement" is a capitalist plot.

I guess crazy people exist on all sides of the political spectrum.

Some examples of the brillient mind of "VanGuard1917" can be found in the thread Recession = good for the environment? [revleft.com] .

Only if you accept the false premise that there is something anti-capitalist about environmentalism could you possibly mistake a Marxist attack on environmentalism with support for capitalism.

Those of us who recognise that environmentalism is infact a bourgeois ideology know full well that criticising environmentalism is central to a critique of contemporary capitalism.

And i 'mention socialism' frequently. For me, a socialist critique of capitalism (which criticises capitalism for holding back material progress) is the direct opposite of environmentalist apologism for capitalism.

Another good quote is from the thread Is scarcity a myth? [revleft.com]

Ideological emphasis of 'scarcity' has long been part and parcel of capitalist politics. Capitalism takes scarcity as its starting point and bourgeois ideologues construct their ideological defence of the capitalist system on that basis. Scarcity, it is argued, is an eternal condition which cannot be overcome, meaning that the market is needed to regulate consumption.

Socialists, on the other hand, point out that material scarcity has historical social and economic causes, that capitalism maintains scarcity, and that the historical aim of socialism is to overcome scarcity through the advancement of the productive forces of society.

Please note, I think you are both wrong.

------

As to the subject of terraforming, I think that it is obvious that humans can terraform a planet. Maybe not in a predictable manner, but it is certainly possible. Humans as a species have done a heck of a lot of damage to ecosystems around the world, and are pumping out so much carbon dioxide ... You know the rest.

Genius! (1)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466641)

So, just as the Earth enters a significant cooling trend (~20-30 years of cooling, at least) we should consider something to make it cool even faster?

It's my opinion, after considerable research, that we don't yet know enough to make long-term climate predictions, MUCH LESS BASE POLICY ON THOSE PREDICTIONS!

It's disheartening that both US Presidential candidates have bought into the CAGW hype for the time being...

the spore way (1)

jnnnnn (1079877) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466661)

just drag an ice comet in from the kuiper belt

Mod -1, Mentions Algore unneccessarily (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466669)

What was the point? To portray him as some kind of visionary instead of a shrewd businessman who ruthlessly promotes his book, movie, and carbon indulgence company? When I see that cocksucker sitting back in coach with the rest of us average folks, then I'll give a shit about what he says.

Tin Foil Hat? (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466689)

Rather than putting reflective particles in the Oceans, why not put reflective sheets on land? Giving the world's least hospitable deserts a tin foil hat would do a lot less damage to the ecosystem (since there isn't much of one there), and would be a lot eaiser to reverse if things go wrong.

A Solution to Ocean Levels (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466697)

Here is a geoengineering idea meant to address the concern of ocean levels. In the USA, we have death valley. Death Valley is huge. Check it out on a map sometime. My idea is to dig a trench/pipe from the ocean to death valley (the wacky part of this idea) and beginning filling it up. Eventually, we would have death valley lake and a new rush for lake front property.

It is wacky, it is silly...its mad science!

Need to be scared, or not? (1)

Manuel M (1308979) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466733)

Reading the article, the idea of releasing SO2 into the stratosphere (or any layer of the atmosphere, for that matter) scared me. But if it is true that we are already releasing much more of it into the *lower* atmosphere, then it doesn't seem as bad an idea to have it up there, where at least it is known to cool the Earth's surface temperature.

Thinkable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466743)

I think this word means what you think it means.

Unlike unthinkable :)

fiXrst (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466749)

Accounts for le5s Do, or indeed what

It's not nice to fool mother nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466773)

Gaia is ANGRY, and demands sacrifice! If we keep continuing to live our modern lives and just "engineer" the problem away, Gaia will not be mollified! We must decrease the population and go live in caves!

Geo-engineering a bad idea (4, Interesting)

jgarzik (11218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466805)

As has been noted [blogspot.com] , geo-engineering requires massive amounts of hubris and luck.

Geo-engineering is the act of fighting pollution... with yet more pollution!

And when you intentionally try to change a planet-wide system, all manner of unintended consequences will occur.

This is hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466811)

"a panel of distinguished environmental scientists warned President Lyndon B. Johnson that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels might cause 'marked changes in climate' that 'could be deleterious."

40+ years later and this is all they can say today, as well. "might" and "could be" haven't disappeared despite throwing billions and billions at researching something that we are still not sure is even a problem.

Old news (1)

yerpo (1370359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466853)

According to chemtrails conspiracy theorists, the evil governments have been doing this for a decade or two. It's funny to

Re:Old news (1)

yerpo (1370359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466911)

Oops, clicked "post" too early. I wanted to say that it's funny to note that they think spraying this on warm days over a couple of inhabited areas in the West will do the same trick as covering half the ocean with the stuff.

Show me the proof that CO2 matters in warming (1)

piotru (124109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466859)

Because I am not convinced that limiting of CO2 emissions would bring benefits worth the effort.
Thank you in advance.

total recall? (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466867)

Wasn't this the plot of Total Recall,
I just want to know who is supposed to be Arnold in this scene, Al Gore?

Re:total recall? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466991)

Q. for Al Gore,

Mr. Gore, why are China and India exempt from your environmental efforts? Why don't you admonish their leadership to do their part? Is it because they might "lose face?"

Fake snow (1)

cryptoluddite (658517) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466889)

How about just laying down huge fields of white stuff... like styrofoam only that doesn't get dirty as fast. There's probably some inert-ish byproduct from things we're making anyway that could be used. Seems like that could reflect a couple % back pretty easy, and if something went wrong we could always fix it.

Amazing that we are forgetting the simple ones (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466905)

Want to reflect a lot of light back? Require all new homes to go up with white roof coverings, with exception for shake shingles. All the rest are capable of being white. Likewise, require parking lots (esp. malls and wallmarts) to have loads of trees every couple of rows. These trees would be required to be a canopy type. Or paint the lot with white. In addition, can we make white asphalt? Not just a paint, but a dye? I would guess that it is possible. The simple fact is, that if we start now, then we can easily send back a lot more light.

Iron is being used to reduce CO2 emmisions... (2, Insightful)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466907)

The company Planktos [planktos-science.com] was showcased on modern marvels that claims they can have a tangible impact on global warming by mixing iron dust into ocean water then spreading it over plankton blooms.

The iron draws plankton to the surface to feed on the iron dust, and the plankton also absorbs the CO2 out of the air. They claimed 1ton of iron could take tens of thousands tons CO2 out of the atmosphere. Not directly related to the article, but its on topic.

You can watch the story on modern marvels [youtube.com]

Lots of love (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25466989)

to the idiots who tagged this 'sunspots'. I'll be laughing all week.

May the flying spaghetti monster protect you from the axis of evil!

Stop. Fools. Don't do this. Sigh (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25466993)

Please do not attempt to cool the Earth.

Global warming means seas slowly rise and cities move inland over the course of a century or more.

But accidently triggering another ice age will kill billions. And if it happens in just a few years, as scientists think ice ages may actually start, most of humanity will die.

It's like I'm an adult in a room filled with kindergarteners. "Hey, let's build a big stack of chairs to reach the cookies!" "Yeah! Good idea!"

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