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More Climate Scientists Now Support Geoengineering

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the this-earth-is-busted-let's-build-a-new-one dept.

Earth 458

ofcourseyouare writes "The Independent is a UK newspaper which has been pushing hard for cuts in CO2 emissions for years. It recently polled a group of 'the world's leading climate scientists,' revealing a 'growing support for geoengineering' in addition to cutting CO2 — not as a substitute. For example, Jim Lovelock, author of The Gaia Theory, comments: 'I disagree that geoengineering the climate is a dangerous distraction and I disagree that on no account should it ever be considered. I strongly agree that we now need a "plan B" where a geoengineering strategy is drawn up in parallel with other measures to curb CO2 emissions.' Professor Kerry Emanuel of MIT said, 'While a geoengineering solution is bound to be less than desirable, the probability of getting global agreement on emissions reductions before it is too late is very small.'"

cancel ×

458 comments

Substitute? Sounds good (-1, Troll)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312735)

Why shouldn't geoengineering climate (dumping Fe in the India ocean, for example) be a substitute for cutting CO2? If it's cheaper and more effective, then only very stupid people would argue for...sorry, I think I answered my own question.

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (5, Insightful)

gambit3 (463693) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312811)

Because you should be wary of a law... the one that talks about unintended consequences.

The obvious solution (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312823)

is to get rid of all the knee grows.

Re:The obvious solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313101)

That's racist. Why do Slashdot seem ta attract racist idiots like da parent poster like moths ta uh flame? It befuddles me ta nahh end. Ya' dig? in the hood

Re:The obvious solution (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313239)

The best part about the Xmas holiday ending is all the kids going back to school giving them less time to shit all over the internet.

Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313281)

Most of us are employed and successful adults.

Re:Actually (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313301)

Yeah because racism against the blacks and jews is a key trait to successful people and not backwards rednecks in poverty looking to blame everyone else for their miserable life.

Re:Actually (-1, Troll)

Francais Troll (1442059) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313331)

Vous seriez surpris. La plupart des gens qui post sur Slashdot racistes ne sont pas vraiment attribuer à la poubelle de leur détachement, ils cherchent à obtenir une augmentation de population. Sur cette note, nous devons envoyer les nègres de retour dans leurs foyers en Afrique.

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312925)

Because you should be wary of a law... the one that talks about unintended consequences.

And that's being optimistic [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312965)

I'm glad I don't have a whole country full of deceitful, greedy kikes stealing all my water and land anywhere near me.

Fucking Jews can't just live in peace. They have to steal other people's land.

With Jews you lose.

Let's lose the Jews.

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313103)

And cutting CO2 output isn't going to have unintended consequences?

I mean, look at what an asset bubble has done to our economy. I don' even want to imagine what would happen if we were to actually make the required cuts in CO2 output in an amount of time that would be helpful.

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313333)

Yes, all that extra research and development, and all that spending on new technology sure is horrible for the economy. The economy is strongest when nobody uses any money for anything!

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (5, Insightful)

dachshund (300733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312923)

Why shouldn't geoengineering climate (dumping Fe in the India ocean, for example) be a substitute for cutting CO2?

You know, when I was a kid they found out that aerosol spray cans (spray cans!) had eaten a huge hole in the ozone layer. Who could have anticipated that? But obviously nothing like that will happen this time.

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313061)

Because of the risk of side effects. Massively fertilizing ocean plankton, for instance, will undoubtedly have rather large effects on ocean ecosystems which all depend on plankton. It's rather questionable whether we can even fertilize the ocean enough to sequester most of the CO2 we'll put into the air over the next couple centuries; it only works insofar as iron continues to be the limiting nutrient. Once you dump tons in, it's no longer limiting. Likewise there are problems with other geoengineering schemes, such as aerosol geoengineering; the problem there is that the control (aerosols) operates on a very different timescale than the carbon cycle, so you have to guarantee that you can keep geoengineering going, uninterrupted, for centuries.

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (2, Interesting)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313253)

Few people seem to want to accept it but we are already committed to a course of action where we have to mess around even further with the ocean ecosystem to keep it in something like its current state. Global warming's effect on land is in all honesty not going to be too severe. Weather patterns might shift a bit, areas of farmland will probably be lost, but that's about it. Major problem for humanity that needs the farmland, but not so bad for all other life on land. Rising ocean acidity will lead to radical changes in ocean life though. At the very least, we're going to have to be dumping alkalis into areas around coral reefs for a while to come yet.

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (1)

sillybilly (668960) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313091)

Easiest way to geoengineer is to leave the Earth alone and control global warming from the radiation input the Earth receives from the Sun, by a small amount of artificial solar eclipse. Take up into space an ultralight collapsible mirror structure, whose transparency is electrically tunable. There is probably an equilibrium point between the Sun and Earth, where an object rotating on a solarstationary orbit at exactly the same speed as Earth receives just the right amount of average solar wind pressure to stay afloat and not fall into the Sun (orbits closer to the Sun need to go faster for the centrifugal force to equilibrate the Sun's attraction, but the extra solar wind force could be it). If part of the panels are solar panels, then possibly a particle capture/acceleration device with superhighspeed ejection toward the Sun could gain extra tunable floating ability. Or it could even be recharged with matter with periodic trips from Earth.

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (1)

sillybilly (668960) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313119)

I forgot to say the most important aspect of it: you can always undo it (on a relative basis, there is nothing you can really undo). Mess with the internals of Earth's functioning, and good luck with trying to fix that.

Re:Substitute? Sounds good (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313349)

Because it's not a long-term solution? You can only dump so much iron into the ocean.

or geo-engineered economic crash (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313459)

Theres nothing like an economic crash to reduce demand and production to indirectly reduce emissions.

What Could go Wrong? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312741)

Great. Geoengineering. Us trying to "solve" a natural problem. Can you say "rabbits in Australia?" Everytime we try one of these "solutions" the result is trouble. I would be agreeable to letting the scientists play geoengineers if they agree to let us violently kill them WHEN it fucks things up even worse.

Global Warming (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312855)

Is cause by rap music. If we just send all of the nigger to the bottom of the sea, then all our problems will be solved, including taxation and natural disasters.

Terraforming Earth (2, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312743)

I guess we're going to learn how to terraform other planets by starting out with this one.

Because we have to.

Re:Terraforming Earth (0, Flamebait)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312903)

I guess we're going to learn how to terraform other planets by starting out with this one.

Because we have to.

Well, let's hope it turns out better for us than it did for the Ganymeans. They were smarter than us, at a much higher technological level than we are, with FTL travel to escape the consequences when they failed and their planet became uninhabitable.

Re:Terraforming Earth (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313011)

Wouldn't that be Ganiforming?

Re:Terraforming Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313085)

Actually, their homeworld was known as "Minerva" to the Earth scientists who finally figured out where they came from. So I guess it would be "Minervaforming."

Re:Terraforming Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313009)

Fortunately we already have the technology. Nuclear winter cancels global warming.

So what is it that everybody is whining about?

Re:Terraforming Earth (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313141)

Terraforming other planets first have the advantage that if we mess things up, we still have this world to live on.

Now, if "fixing" this we mess things up a lot, we wouldnt be able to run nowhere. How much safety margin we have for playing a bit with the system before it runs wildly out of control? And... how better will be the measures they will take over, i.e. breeding butterflies?

Re:Terraforming Earth (0, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313249)

Because we have to.

We do not have to , global warming is not proven. Even if the oceans rise and all of the poles melt, humans will still survive and thrive. Sure, polar bears might go extinct, but so did dinosaurs millions of years before we were even around driving our SUVs. The only constant on this planet is change be it natural or man-made.

And then what happens when we get plunged into another ice age because of something?

Re:Terraforming Earth (4, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313437)

We do not have to , global warming is not proven.

It's rather well established by now.

Even if the oceans rise and all of the poles melt, humans will still survive and thrive.

We'll survive, but that doesn't mean that there won't be economic, social, or geopolitical impacts that we'd prefer to have avoided.

Sure, polar bears might go extinct, but so did dinosaurs millions of years before we were even around driving our SUVs.

Again, a non-argument. Just because species have gone extinct in the past doesn't mean we'd prefer to accelerate the extinction rate. I mean, sure, if you place zero value on ecosystems, maybe, but not everyone does.

And then what happens when we get plunged into another ice age because of something?

Then we'll probably wish we'd have saved our fossil fuels to counteract that, instead of using them up now when we don't need the warming.

Re:Terraforming Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313295)

"I guess we're going to learn how to fuck up other planets by starting out with this one."

There fixed that for ya!!

Everyone on Board (1)

Petskull (650178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312777)

How do you get every other country to agree to help?

Re:Everyone on Board (3, Funny)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313289)

Use the same process the U.S. used to get everyone else to help invade Iraq. That worked like a charm!

Re:Everyone on Board (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313357)

Yes, that's the problem with cutting emissions, and which is why we might need an alternate plan that doesn't require everyone to agree, like geoengineering.

What could possibly go wrong (5, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312781)

If attempted this will likely turn out to be as stupid a decision as it was to introduce western predators to Australia in the hope that they would help fix the problem caused by introducing rats and rabbits. When it comes to nature and our ecosystem the rule of thumb ought to be "leave it the fuck alone".

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312849)

that's really stupid. really really really stupid. we are part of nature. nothing we do can be unnatural. it's the next step in evolution... using our technology to change our bodies, minds, and environment.

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

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312979)

nothing we do can be unnatural.

Depends upon your perspective. A ecosystem which has not evolved an intelligent but not particularly responsible species will follow a different path than one which is not so blessed. One might argue that said ecosystem might survive a while longer.

On the other hand, that intelligent species might be able to fend off an extinction-level event (such as an asteroid strike) that would otherwise wipe out most of the life in that system. I suspect we'd find that far easier to accomplish than truly wide-scale geoengineering. Truth is, we're not as advanced as we think we are, and nowhere near advanced as we need to be. And either way this goes, there is no escape from a truly global catastrophe. Heck, we don't even have the ability to leave and go elsewhere and start over.

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

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312929)

When it comes to nature and our ecosystem the rule of thumb ought to be "leave it the fuck alone".

Well, technically, the rule of thumb should be "understand first, act later" and in any event if you decide to act do it in a controlled environment first.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (5, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312957)

We exist, so leaving the environment "alone" is a bit of a moot point, unless you happen to be down with just offing all of humanity. The contingencies this story are describing are for the case that we're already fucked and cannot fix the environment insofar as it supports human life simply by changing our emissions and outputs.

We're a parameter in the worlds biosphere, not external observers. The only way to have NO impact on the environment is to not be a part of it.

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

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312987)

Yeah, right, that's as if early physicians said "hmmmm it did no good when we tried to bleed these sick guys or give them leeches, maybe we should just leave the human body alone". Oh noes we made mistakes in the past when trying to fix a problem! Let's all stop trying to fix problems!

Besides, we've already done a bunch of geoengineering by releasing all these gases in the atmosphere. Emitting less of them is also geoengineering, so we're knee deep in the shit we created and we have to do something anyways. Instead of pondering "to geoengineer or not to geoengineer" maybe we should look for geoengineering ideas and use all our imagination and knowledge to find out why they wouldn't work or why they would be a bad idea.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313083)

"Hmmmm it did no good when we fertilized the oceans to stop global warming. Too bad we've now screwed us out of our only habitable planet. Sorry, guys."

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313221)

I fail to see the problem.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (-1, Troll)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313255)

OMG oh noes there are risks to anything we do! Hey next thing you know you go out of your house, cross the streets and bam you get hit by a car! But I heard that if you look right and left before you cross and wait for any cars to go by you may cross relatively safely. Nah nevermind let's all just hide under the covers.

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

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313187)

Yeah, right, that's as if early physicians said "hmmmm it did no good when we tried to bleed these sick guys or give them leeches

Actually, in the right circumstances bleeding and the use of leeches are effective treatments. Particularly leeches: the compound they use to keep blood flowing acts like a blood thinner, like Heparin.

But otherwise yeah, I tend to agree. It's a matter of risk/benefit analysis, really. Is doing nothing (or rather, maintaining the status quo ante) more risky than trying to fix the problem? There's apparently considerable risk whichever way we jump, so we're going to have to something sooner or later.

The real problems here are (and will continue to be) shortsighted politics, more than scientific or technological issues. Right now, nobody can agree on a solution because any such agreement requires that someone take a hit, and nobody trusts the highly-politicized science involved sufficiently to make that possible. Best guess? We're going to march right over the cliff.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313369)

Well, the problem with the status quo ante we're trying to reach is that it involves anyone jumping on the brakes, knowing it won't be "enough" anyways. So an alternative would be welcome, but I think that, while shortsighted politics are a problem regarding all "jumping on the brakes" to limit emissions, the problem regarding alternative solutions is that there's none.

There's no single solution that we have a scientific consensus on that would be "hey let's build this many cloud machines on our shores". We need a plan B to help with the plan A (limiting emissions) which is hard to stick to, but there's no currently such plan B. You can point to a single, well-defined plan to which you could say "scientists agree that we should do this, we know precisely what to do, we just need the powers that be to jump on board". So I think the problem regarding this plan B is right now a problem for the scientific community.

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

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313367)

Its a bit different...

when physicians make a mistake you kill a few hundred people at the most.

Geoengineering has the potential to wipe out the entire life structure on the planet.

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

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313427)

The problem is, that we only have one earth. You can't just try something, an if the patient dies, know not to do it to the next one. There is no next one for a very loooong time.
You deciding otherwise does not change this fact.

So we have to live with what we've got and be as careful as we can. What would you do when you would have to put a kernel update on the world bank server? Either you would try to avoid it, or you would make damn sure it works, by setting up a controlled mirror environment which comes as close to the original as possible. Which is nearly impossible for global effects.

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

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313469)

Besides, we've already done a bunch of geoengineering by releasing all these gases in the atmosphere. Emitting less of them is also geoengineering, so we're knee deep in the shit we created and we have to do something anyways.

Emitting less of them is also geoengineering, but at least we have a pretty good idea of what that would do, because we know what the planet was like before we started adding those gases in the first place. Any other scheme is inherently riskier, because we don't have direct analogs. (e.g., we know what volcanoes do to the climate. But we don't know what "a few major volcanos every year in the presence of continued increasing CO2 levels" would do, which is effectively what aerosol geoengineering would ultimately require.) I do think we should research geoengineering as a backup plan, but it's a mistake to claim that it's no more risky than just reducing CO2 emissions.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313477)

Oh, and "But I already killed people!" is no argument to kill even more people, just because now you use a surgeon knife instead of a sledgehammer.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313019)

We exist, so leaving the environment "alone" is a bit of a moot point, unless you happen to be down with just offing all of humanity. The contingencies this story are describing are for the case that we're already fucked and cannot fix the environment insofar as it supports human life simply by changing our emissions and outputs.

We're a parameter in the worlds biosphere, not external observers. The only way to have NO impact on the environment is to not be a part of it, which may end up being the solution for the biosphere in any event. I can think of a lot more cases where life continues but humanity can no longer survive than cases where the whole biosphere is completely destroyed.

The trick is not trying to actively change the environment unless we're in a position that it's that or extinction. If we were completely ethical and apart from the environment i could wish that we would be willing to cease as a species rather than risk destroying the whole kit, but i certainly would not bank on that being considered as a "choice" rather than a worst case scenario.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313029)

How about you also try to come up with examples where patching a problem actually *helped* nature? Like adding a fish bypass next to a dam, or an animal crossing to a pipeline.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313153)

Except that in this case, if we do nothing, we're dead. If they did nothing in Australia in regards to the bunny population, maybe things would have turned out OK on their own. Not so this time. We have nothing to lose, so why not try to fix it, even if it means taking daring risks and doing things we've never done before?

More importantly, when do you stop? (0, Troll)

Kohath (38547) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313207)

Let's all pretend we have anthropogenic climate change and can fix it by geoengineering. How much geoengineering? When do you stop?

Since the data on climate change need to be considered over several decades to determine the extent of the change, what's the indicator that you're done geoengineering and should stop before you overshoot and cause an ice age?

Do you do one project and wait 100 years to see if it gets cooler? 50 years?

Wouldn't 50 or 100 years be better spent finding a way to cope with a slightly warmer climate? People find ways to deal with adversity all the time (or at least we used to before society decided that life was supposed to be problem-free). We can't find some way to flourish in 2 or 4 degree warmer temperatures given 50 or 100 years to work on it?

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313271)

The problem is we haven't left it alone for a long time. This is no more wrong than building millions of cars and factories to pollute the earth or cutting down a fair portion of our trees to pave over huge swaths of the planet.

So wait (3, Insightful)

Bobnova (1435535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312787)

We've got a huge dead zone in the gulf of mexico due to artificially fertilized algae blooms, and this plan calls for

schemes such as fertilising the oceans with iron to stimulate algal blooms

that doesn't sound like a real great idea. Bonus points to the article for misspelling "fertilizing".

Re:So wait (4, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313015)

Bonus points to the article for misspelling "fertilizing".

OMG troll. It's from a UK newspaper. Your local dialect and its alternative spellings are irrelevant to them.

Re:So wait (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313199)

I haven't looked at this particular article, but most iron fertilization schemes talk about the Southern Ocean, large regions of which appear to be iron-deficient. I believe the idea is to create less extreme algal blooms, which act as food sources for things like krill that create carbonaceous exoskeletons that then fall to the ocean floor. So the idea is to get rid of dead zones rather than create them.

Whether this is a good idea or not, whether it's needed or not, and what unintended consequences it has, are a different question...

Re:So wait (5, Informative)

N1ck0 (803359) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313215)

Then of course there is the ph problem with fertilizing the oceans discovered in the past 2-3 years. Forcing the absorption of CO2 into the ocean tends to cause the creation of carbonic acid, which eats calcium. Calcium provides the building blocks and protective shells for many simple microscopic oceanic plant/animal life. It also will eat away at the sells of crustaceans.

Just a small pH change in the ocean can collapse the entire food chain.

Of course you can counter this by adding quicklime to the ocean (which is pretty costly). And you can balance the nutrition loss by adding more nitrogen to the water. Of course that means that you essentially have dumped a bunch of materials you mined (by producing a lot of CO2) into the ocean to re-balance an already balanced ecosystem.

Considering just 5 years ago the prevailing thought was that the ocean could sequester an almost unlimited amount of CO2, its pretty obvious that we don't fully understand how badly tinkering with it could f-things up.

Re:So wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313365)

As the summary says, it's a UK newspaper. The correct British English spelling is fertilising. Therefore, shove it up your arse.

Re:So wait (2, Insightful)

Nuisance (153513) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313389)

Bonus points to the article for misspelling "fertilizing".

In the UK they speak a language called English. In English, as opposed to American, we did not need to dumb the language down by replacing s with z in lots of words including fertiliser...

Re:So wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313435)

Dude, it's a UK newspaper. You can keep your zs, we'll spell things with ss, thank you very much.

So this is how it ends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312793)

Hubris on a global scale. Who would have thought.

Re:So this is how it ends... (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312865)

We do what we must because... we can

Re:So this is how it ends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312921)

Oh, I'm not disputing that. If it is possible to attempt geoengineering, someone will try it. History is full of civilizations which have wiped themselves out. It's mostly a question of when and how.

Re:So this is how it ends... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312995)

Oh, I'm not disputing that. If it is possible to attempt geoengineering, someone will try it. History is full of civilizations which have wiped themselves out. It's mostly a question of when and how.

True, but not a one of them had the power to wipe out everyone else. That's the real difference.

Re:So this is how it ends... (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313075)

Not everyone will be wiped out. The earth overall won't give a fuck and humanity won't die out either.
The question is just how many [m|b]illions of humans will have to die before the natural control loops take effect.

Re:So this is how it ends... (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313127)

Not everyone will be wiped out. The earth overall won't give a fuck and humanity won't die out either. The question is just how many [m|b]illions of humans will have to die before the natural control loops take effect.

The Earth is a ball of rock and couldn't care less what that layer of thin, greenish paste on the surface does with itself. But my point is still valid: yes, the Aztecs, the Incas, and other early civilizations fell because they didn't know how to manage their immediate environment, but societies elsewhere were unaffected. Assuming that global warming is, in fact, the threat that some of us think it is, can we claim that we understand the system enough to fix it? Most would consider the deaths of a billion or more human beings to be an inadequate solution, regardless of whether our species survives (or not.)

Nice but. . . (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312831)

I prefer the idea of lime in the ocean over iron any day.

http://www.cquestrate.com/ [cquestrate.com]

Not nice, not at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312887)

The oceans are the largest and least studied eco system on this planet, and if we're going to treat them like landfills for CO2, then we're going to get what we deserve.

Great work if you can get it! Follow the Money (2, Insightful)

earthcreed (1292180) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312845)

It wouldn't possibly be the same climate scientists that would design and implement these mega billion dollar projects, would it?

Re:Great work if you can get it! Follow the Money (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312935)

I thought all of global warming was researchers trying to get a grant.

Re:Great work if you can get it! Follow the Money (2, Informative)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313109)

Like it's the climate scientists who design and implement CO2 abatement policies? No, that's economists and politicians. Geoengineering is an ENGINEERING project. Scientists might tell engineers how much needs to happen, but they're not the ones who would design, build, or deploy the devices.

Besides, if you're insinuating that climate geoengineering is all a scientific conspiracy to get funding dollars, that's pretty lame. Even if you're a conspiracy nutjob, how is inventing a cheaper solution (geoengineering) than existing plans (emissions abatement) going to get them more money?

Re:Great work if you can get it! Follow the Money (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313227)

Even if you're a conspiracy nutjob, how is inventing a cheaper solution (geoengineering) than existing plans (emissions abatement) going to get them more money?

(Not that I think there's a conspiracy, but...)

Competitive market forces work even for invented problems. If I can solve a fake problem cheaper than you can, I can get more of the funding dollars.

This just goes to show that conspiracy theories can be as fluid as needed to accommodate data that conflicts with the starting axiom that a conspiracy exists...

Obsessed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312905)

These "climate" scientists are becoming obsessed and overwrought.

As the tidal wave of the Global Warming Church begins to slow, as more and more scientists, who ARE specialists in the climate, are beginning are beginning to backtrack and even outright dismiss AGW, those who remain loyal to the Church of Global Warming are beginning to panic.

If they were real scientists this would not happen, but the majority of supporters are "Activists" and uniformly, the rest are infected with the Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Want more? Here...
http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.SenateReport

Yes, it's from an Evil Republican Denier, but I challenge you to read it instead of arrogantly dismissing it as the work of Exxon.

If you are really what most of you say you are, then you will check it out with open minds.

Who am I kidding, you folks are no different that the Church in Medieval times. Your crowing about Science and Evidence are mere distractions obscuring the real goal of the GW Church which is to increase government control over all aspects of our lives.

Evidence (0)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313245)

400 out of multiple-thousands of scientists aren't sure that man made causes are creating global warming? Stop the presses! Skimming the article you link, it looks like it's short on facts :( You will be better received around these parts if you get off the soap box, stop yelling, and point to some of the evidence that global warming is not caused by us humans or that the theories that explain it as man-made don't hold water. (It's pretty much a given that the world is warming... the polar ice caps shrank 20% in the last 30 years.) If you are interested, I found this video [youtube.com] quite informative, although potholer is very snarky sometimes.

Although, yes, it only takes one or two people to disagree with you and mod you troll or flamebait, like in this case. You're just expressing your opinion and get modded down which is bullshit.

Re:Obsessed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313471)

Yeah, all that evidence, when did that ever point to something being true? Back into your hole...

Does anyone remember... (3, Funny)

RobinH (124750) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312917)

Highlander 2? Yeah, I tried to forget it too...

Re:Does anyone remember... (1)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313159)

Wait a minute, are you saying that these climate scientists are suggesting we save the environment with a sci-fi force field and then decapitate an alien dude with a train?

Sweet.

Cost/benefit? (5, Insightful)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312927)

Something tells me that if you do the math, cutting CO2 emissions will be way cheaper and safer than any of the options listed in the article. Seeding the oceans with iron, one of the more reasonable sounding ideas... OK, but how much iron would have to be mixed into the oceans to get rid of billions of tons of atmospheric carbon? At what cost?

Re:Cost/benefit? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313213)

Sometimes benefit, as in the difference between survival and extintion, makes any cost worth of it. How much a life worth? and all/most lives in the planet?

But the problem here is not how much it will cost, but if it will work or even make things worse.

Just brilliant (4, Interesting)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312949)

I mean, the way I usually go around getting people to give me deeply considered answers is to do a poll. How many of these scientists actually thought the question through? How many actually have enough expertise and experience to make their responses meaningful even if they had thought it through.

Seriously, is this science or fucking American Idol?!?

With any poll, you also have to consider who commissioned the poll, who implemented it, what the agendas are, etc. Because nobody does this shit for free, and there's always an angle.

Re:Just brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313167)

is this science or fucking American Idol?!?

That depends on which American Idol contestant(s) we are talking about fucking.

Sounds like a bad idea (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26312959)

The article was pretty short on details. First, I would hardly call 54% of 80 experts a statistically significant number. Also, who are these experts. I recall the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claimed some 2500 scientists and experts but when you actually looked at the make up of the group there were huge numbers of non scientists. Additionally, a good number of the scientists who were listed requested their names be removed from the list.

More importantly, when we try to "engineer" the atmosphere we are asking for trouble. We don't understand how all of this works and in fact, it may not be a problem at all. There is some evidence that suggests carbon FOLLOWS warming buy several hundreds of years. There seems to be a small but growing group of people that feel the sun's activities are far more responsible for warming and cooling that carbon.

Additionally, Methane and water vapor are far more potent as greenhouse gases than carbon.

Finally, I just read that temperatures peaked in '98 and have actually cooled by about a half degree or so. It seems that the earth has always warmed and cooled in cycles. I think it is far more effective to effect local solutions than to risk geo-engineering with processes that we don't understand and really can't control.

I see so many examples of mankind engineering something and then later finding out it was a mistake.

Re:Sounds like a bad idea (5, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313297)

Sheesh, do you get all your climate science off skeptic web sites? Your whole post is nothing but a laundry list of long-debunked talking points.

There is some evidence that suggests carbon FOLLOWS warming buy several hundreds of years.

You're talking about the glacial-interglacial cycle. That's long been a prediction of Milaknovitch theory, well before any such lag was actually measured. It doesn't mean that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas, or that it doesn't cause warming. It means that there are feedbacks between the climate and the carbon cycle. When glacial temperatures rise, CO2 levels increase (due to, e.g., outgassing from the oceans), as predicted by theory. Increased CO2 levels, in turn, add to the temperature rise. If you leave out the CO2 greenhouse effect, you can't reproduce the amount of warming observed in the glacial-interglacial cycle.

There seems to be a small but growing group of people that feel the sun's activities are far more responsible for warming and cooling that carbon.

If you're talking about the modern warming period, there isn't a growing group of climate scientists who believe that; far fewer believe that now than they did 10 or 20 years ago. The evidence is strongly against it, since the Sun's activities during that period don't actually agree with the warming which is observed.

In the past, solar activity has indeed had significant effects on climate. It can explain a substantial amount (but by no means all) of the warming in the early 20th century. However, solar irradiance simply hasn't changed very much since the 1950s, and can't explain the warming since then, even if you appeal to speculative indirect effects like cosmic ray modulation of cloud cover (as comic rays also haven't changed in a way to explain the observed warming).

Additionally, Methane and water vapor are far more potent as greenhouse gases than carbon.

Once again, that has nothing to do with the fact that CO2 is a potent greenhouse gas, and we're adding a lot of it to the atmosphere.

Finally, I just read that temperatures peaked in '98 and have actually cooled by about a half degree or so.

That's wrong. January 2008 was 0.5 degrees cooler than 2007 on average, but a monthly fluctuation in temperature does not mean the Earth is experiencing a cooling trend.

It seems that the earth has always warmed and cooled in cycles.

The Earth has natural cycles, but there isn't any natural cycle which predicts what we've observed in the modern warming period.

I think it is far more effective to effect local solutions than to risk geo-engineering with processes that we don't understand and really can't control.

Global solutions may be required to global problems, but geoengineering is indeed riskier than other alternatives.

Authority (1)

jork (1330913) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312985)

Who will decide what parts of the world will be cooled and how often? Sounds like the Kyoto protocol all over again

Re:Authority (1, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313145)

Some of these geoengineering schemes are cheap enough for individual countries to implement unilaterally, which is an even worse problem than mere CO2 emissions abatement from a geopolitical standpoint.

Fruit Cake is Served at M.I.T. (2, Insightful)

hackus (159037) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312999)

My reply to professor Kerry Emanuel, M.I.T.

Fine. You want to do geoengineering?

Get yourself on a probe launch to Mars and do it there. Leave the EARTH ALONE.

It is my belief that when we ON PURPOSE start trying to tune the atmosphere is where the real problems will begin.

People like this are so full of themselves, they are willing to risk the entire biosphere over crack pot, unproven ideas.

-Hack

Re:Fruit Cake is Served at M.I.T. (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313077)

It is my belief that when we ON PURPOSE start trying to tune the atmosphere is where the real problems will begin.

You are perhaps unaware that choosing an "acceptable" CO2 level, and trying to make that level the actual one (by, say, reducing emissions of CO2) is an attempt to "tune the atmosphere".

Or did you perhaps think that the amount of CO2 in the air the last ten thousand years is the "correct" amount, and the CO2 levels at other points in history (it's been both higher and lower than it is now) are somehow wrong?

Re:Fruit Cake is Served at M.I.T. (4, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313191)

Or did you perhaps think that the amount of CO2 in the air the last ten thousand years is the "correct" amount, and the CO2 levels at other points in history (it's been both higher and lower than it is now) are somehow wrong?

Yes, as far as current civilization is concerned, which has adapted itself to a particular climate over the last ten thousand years. We can re-adapt to a new climate, but it's going to be expensive if the change happens within a century or two, and there are very long-term consequences (e.g. sea level rise) that we may or may not prefer to commit future generations to.

Re:Fruit Cake is Served at M.I.T. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313293)

We can re-adapt to a new climate, but it's going to be expensive if the change happens within a century or two, and there are very long-term consequences (e.g. sea level rise) that we may or may not prefer to commit future generations to.

But that is assuming that everything stays the same, carbon emissions, the sun, and technology. back in 1809 we didn't have cell phones, computers, the internet, we didn't even have airplanes. In 2209 who knows what the technology level will be, it might be that rising sea levels will be no problem because we can quickly build artificial islands, or perhaps we won't be even living on the earth we might be living on a different planet or in the air. Not to mention that a nuclear winter, changes in the sun, or a meteor strike could change the climate much, much, much, faster than CO2 will in a thousand years.

Re:Fruit Cake is Served at M.I.T. (1, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313361)

But that is assuming that everything stays the same, carbon emissions, the sun, and technology.

No, it's assuming that we don't KNOW that miracle solutions will appear. If people in the future have amazing tech and don't care about sea level rise or whatever, great, but it's not really ethical to hand them such a problem assuming that they'll be able to and want to deal with it. "We shouldn't bother to reduce the risk of climate change because maybe we'll have a giant nuclear winter instead" isn't really a compelling position.

The Sun is very unlikely to counteract the greenhouse effect over the long term any time soon. We do have geological records of what the Sun has done in the past. It's conceivable that it could do something really weird in the near future, but again, it's not something you bet on. In tens of thousands of years we might have to worry about the next ice age, in which case we'd probably prefer to save our greenhouse gases for later, when we actually need them.

Re:Fruit Cake is Served at M.I.T. (2, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313175)

Geoengineering itself is not unproven nor crackpot; there is plenty of evidence that it works as far as cooling the climate. The unproven part is the side effects. And nobody's proposing to "risk the entire biosphere" on an untested idea; obviously, it would have to be tested on more limited scales first. Some geoengineering schemes are hard to dial down, but some of them (like aerosol geoengineering) can be turned off pretty quickly, with no worse consequences than a large volcano (say, Pinatubo scale). Sure, large volcanoes can have significant effects, but on that scale they're not going to "risk the biosphere". If it turns out to have extra side effects, you can stop doing it. (Other schemes aren't as easy to dial down; if you fertilize the oceans, you're going to have nutrients in the water for a long time, even if you stop adding them.)

It's kind of like a crash diet for the world... (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313005)

So it was a few months before my wedding and I wanted to look good in the pictures (you have them for life, you know). So I vowed to start eating right and going to the gym. But then the gym turned out to be inconvenient and kind of expensive, so instead I decided I'd just wait 'til the last month and go on a crash diet. But unfortunately, the stupid crash diet didn't work out either (I ask you: who can eat cabbage soup for four weeks!?)

I'm sorry, what was this story about...?

Drill costs, rough estimates (1)

dvh.tosomja (1235032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313023)

I recently hire a well drilling company and average cost per 1m depth is 60 to 100. Assuming you need to drill at least 200m to get reasonably warm water, be prepare for 20'000. That's 1/4 of average family house price. Build you house in the woods and you have fuel for free.

Heat Sinking (1)

Yellobes (1306223) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313025)

Heat sinking the earth's core always sounded like a bad idea to me... I don't know, the whole thing of our magnetosphere being vital to all life here and whatnot, and shit.

Jim Lovelock (1)

memnock (466995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313209)

is not what i'd really consider a scientist. i read the Gaia Theory a while ago. it's kind of hokey. more new ageish than new scientist, if you ask me.

Simplest solution of all... (2, Informative)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313219)

Plant more trees.

Re:Simplest solution of all... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313313)

I would also like to add, "drive less". We are actually doing a pretty good job as far as planting trees goes. Now if people would just stop driving their cars so much, we'd be much better off.

How about nacho-engineering (1)

dubbayu_d_40 (622643) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313251)

Seriously. I'm addicted to 7-11 nachos. But I live near the beach and have to keep up my figure.

Please figure out how to get rid of the fat so I can consume more, and more, AND MORE!!!!

Financial engineering worked, right?

Climate Scientists? (2, Informative)

mark_osmd (812581) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313303)

The so-called climate scientists interviewed in the article are mostly oceanographers, engineers, museum directors and authors. It looks like only about half are literally climate scientists/physicists.

too large a scale (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313409)

We haven't been able to introduce animal and plant species properly to areas of the world or ourselves. And we should start playing with the climate?!
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