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Will Climate Engineering Ever Go Prime Time?

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the warm-up-the-hurricane-gun dept.

Science 281

coondoggie writes "You may or may not be old enough to remember the TV commercial for margarine that had the tag line: 'It's not nice to fool Mother Nature.' But that commercial came to mind as I was reading a report out recently that looked at the viability of large climate engineering projects that would basically alter large parts of the atmosphere to reduce greenhouse gases or basically reverse some of the effects of climate change. The congressional watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office took a look at the current state of climate engineering science and technology (PDF), which generally aims at either carbon dioxide removal or solar radiation management."

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Wrong idea (4, Interesting)

2names (531755) | about 3 years ago | (#37267288)

We need to GET OFF THIS ROCK. Stop wasting money on climate projects and get a plan together to colonize other planets. Wait, if we're going to colonize other planets, we will need to be able to change the climate on those planets to be liveable. Dammit. I hate it when my logic goes all circular.

Re:Wrong idea (3, Insightful)

piripiri (1476949) | about 3 years ago | (#37267400)

We need to GET OFF THIS ROCK. Stop wasting money on climate projects and get a plan together to colonize other planets

And repeat the whole damn shit again? No thank you.

Re:Wrong idea (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37267444)

And repeat the whole damn shit again? No thank you.

We're quite happy for you to stay behind while we take over the rest of the universe.

Re:Wrong idea (2)

32771 (906153) | about 3 years ago | (#37267548)

How? Is there Oil on Mars?

Re:Wrong idea (1)

Lifyre (960576) | about 3 years ago | (#37267894)

No but they have Rainbows and Unicorns and last I checked they were valid power sources for wishes and dreams.

Re:Wrong idea (3, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | about 3 years ago | (#37268032)

That right there is just one of the many reasons why the concept of settling other planets is so *#$#@$* difficult.

To live on another planet -- to merely stay alive -- requires a whole raft of modern technology. And each modern technological component has a whole chain of component inputs for parts and manufacturing consumables, and each of those has a whole chain, and each of those, and so on down the line. And as much as we might like to pretend that we can just narrow things down to just a few parts or materials, you really can't. Try substituting nylon for teflon in a container that holds hydrofluoric acid or teflon for nylon in a high-abrasion part and see how well things go for you, for example.

Plastics are a key critical part of modern technology, and there's thousands of them. Perhaps you could do with a couple dozen -- *maybe*, if you engineered each and every component carefully (a massive undertaking when you're saying, basically, "reinvent our modern industrial base"). So we need to have whole oil refineries and chemical plants operating on... wait, what? Oil, Mars?

Right. So before you can even get to those oil refineries and chemical plants -- launched at absurdly expensive prices -- you have to have a way to make oil in the first place, on a planet that has none. This means some combination of the Fischer-Tropsch/Sabatier processes. Which means taking in and compressing the trace atmosphere, isolating the CO2 from the other gasses, reacting it with a steady stream of hydrogen from a water electrolyzer (fed by an ice mine) over a catalyst bed at high temperatures, and then fed into the refinery. And of course, every part will steadily corrode, moving parts will break, etc, and you need supply chains to produce *each and every part*. Every seal, every coil, every valve, every surface coating, every lubricant, every hydraulic fluid, every sensor, everything. In your whole refinery and chemical plant. And everything that goes into making those parts/materials -- not just their raw materials, but their production-process consumables? You have to be able to make them, too. And so on down the line.

It's really a horribly daunting challenge, a colony that can completely support itself. Mostly support itself, with freighters of parts and replacement equipment /low level consumables showing up every few months? That's not that bad. *Completely* independent? That's centuries in the future at best.

A while back I did a whole series going into this sort of stuff in more detail over here:

Beyond The Space Elevator: A Glimpse Of Alternative Methods For Space Launch [dailykos.com]
The Colonization Of Other Worlds: Where Will We Begin? [dailykos.com]
The Colonization Of Other Worlds: Who Will Bring It About And Why? [dailykos.com]
The Colonization Of Other Worlds: The Industry Dilemma [dailykos.com]

Re:Wrong idea (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | about 3 years ago | (#37268326)

The Colonization Of Other Worlds: Who Will Bring It About And Why?

i'm willing to sign up to bring potato salad. but you're going to have to tell me how many people are coming.

Re:Wrong idea (1)

32771 (906153) | about 3 years ago | (#37268554)

You might want to figure out what mineralogical barrier means and why because of that we don't have centuries left for a space program with our current energy sources.

So it is either fusion and total environmental destruction or stone age in a few centuries.

Read Georgescu-Roegen's works and a paper called something like "Elements of hope" by A. Diederen.

Good night and good luck.

Re:Wrong idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267460)

Well i have been saying that for a few years now but no one is interested because someone might get hurt now and then in the process it's pathetic that's what it is we need the ISS to be many many times larger so that we can use it to construct large enough spacecraft in orbit then get out and start the adventure that will save mankinds stupid little arse in the long run
 

Re:Wrong idea (1, Funny)

2names (531755) | about 3 years ago | (#37267494)

If you send me your address I will send you a keyboard with functional punctuation keys.

Re:Wrong idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267618)

fuck both your names you dick

Re:Wrong idea (1)

eedwardsjr (1327857) | about 3 years ago | (#37268180)

He used the right form of its/it's though. weird.

Re:Wrong idea (4, Insightful)

realcoolguy425 (587426) | about 3 years ago | (#37267534)

You first.

This again leads back to my conclusion that people with a liberal mindset believe that resources are running out, and that they need to force change on other people. I'm not saying they're completely wrong, even though I am, but this belief in extreme resource scarcity is at the heart of this sort of logic. Besides, we can do what China is planning, nudge big rocks closer and mine off of them. If you're worried about the climate not staying exactly the same from one year to the next, you have picked the wrong planet to be born on.

The accusation that climate change alarmists are forming a secular religion I believe is not completely unfounded. Anyone who would follow the Goracle on the topic of climate change may not like it when the computer models are finally generated that finally reflect reality. It will be data gathered from satellites that I believe will finally put an end to playing climate games by sampling data in way that produces the desired results. Recent NASA data that shows more heat escapes into space than we previously thought is part of the point I'm trying to make here. I'm not pretending to be an expert on this topic, but I know more than enough to understand that there are people with a vested interest in perpetuating any narrative that casts CO2 as the enemy of man.

Re:Wrong idea (1, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37267612)

YThis again leads back to my conclusion that people with a liberal mindset believe that resources are running out, and that they need to force change on other people.

No, you have that backwards. They want to force changes on other people and 'resource scarcity' is just a convenient excuse.

How many times have you seen liberals shouting about some disaster and demanding the adoption of free-market policies to solve it? Creating a problem so you can propose a solution which happens to be what you wanted in the first place has been a standard left-wing tactic since at least the 19th century.

So, for example, first you ban drilling for oil and then you shout about 'peak oil' and how it's going to kill everyone unless we start using public transport. You could just, you know, drill for more oil instead but that wouldn't achieve the real goal of pushing people onto public transport.

Re:Wrong idea (0)

Tsingi (870990) | about 3 years ago | (#37267716)

You could just, you know, drill for more oil instead but that wouldn't achieve the real goal of pushing people onto public transport.

And we all know that there is a secret elf workshop deep below the earth marketing new oil all the time. So all that "finite" stuff is nonsense.

The thing about climate change that bothers me is that people think humans cause it, when we all know that it is God angry about the US administration spending too much money on social programs. Ask Michele Bachmann: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2031442/Hurricane-Irene-message-God-says-Michele-Bachmann.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:Wrong idea (2, Informative)

WolfgangPG (827468) | about 3 years ago | (#37268010)

Or this crazy idea liberals have that humans are more powerful than the Sun and seem to forget the climate of the earth has changed many times before man even arrived.

Also: http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-data-blow-gaping-hold-global-warming-alarmism-192334971.html [yahoo.com]
Snip: NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing.

The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA's Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA's Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.

Re:Wrong idea (3, Insightful)

Tsingi (870990) | about 3 years ago | (#37268106)

Snip: NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing.

The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

The alarmists being virtually all scientists who know anything about global warming. It's a good thing we have oil companies who pay those few scientists who have the integrity to produce studies like this, and the media to spin it properly, or we would have to pay more for energy.

But none of it matters, as soon as Washington gets it's act together and starts spending less on social programs, God will provide.

Re:Wrong idea (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37268364)

Well the other side of this is that all of this "anthropogenic global warming" stuff is such nonsense that we should take steps to make sure no more money can be spent on it. I mean, some people in the military are trying to map our our options for economic, political, and humanitarian chaos caused by so-called "climate change." How much sillier and more wasteful can you get, especially when those resources could be better spent by redirecting them toward securing our oil supplies and fighting those twin Wars on Terrorism and Drugs. Planning for some sort of climate change chaos is about as smart as planning for a post-invasion Iraq that didn't spontaneously form into a free-market democracy.

While we're at it, weather satellites are giving too much information to the alarmists, too. 100 years ago we did just fine without weather satellites, and it would save money too, especially if we got rid of that money-suck called FEMA.

Re:Wrong idea (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 3 years ago | (#37268470)

Or this crazy idea liberals have that humans are more powerful than the Sun and seem to forget the climate of the earth has changed many times before man even arrived.

Wow, that's just like the crazy idea a lot of conservatives have that the earth will somehow be able to cope with the copious amounts of, not only the completely toxic chemicals we pour into the environment that it's literally never had to deal with since they're not even naturally occurring at all (like plastics), but substances it can process in quantities far exceeding anything it's able to keep up with...and do all this on a time frame that is in any way conducive to human survival.

But, you know, God will fix everything when he Raptures all the believers up to heaven. These earthly concerns don't matter, back to church. Our kids can always deal with it later. Besides, why inconvenience ourselves to help those not even yet born? Do they pay taxes? I don't think so!

Re:Wrong idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267796)

You first.

This again leads back to my conclusion that people with a liberal mindset believe that resources are running out, and that they need to force change on other people. I'm not saying they're completely wrong, even though I am, but this belief in extreme resource scarcity is at the heart of this sort of logic. Besides, we can do what China is planning, nudge big rocks closer and mine off of them. If you're worried about the climate not staying exactly the same from one year to the next, you have picked the wrong planet to be born on.

The accusation that climate change alarmists are forming a secular religion I believe is not completely unfounded. Anyone who would follow the Goracle on the topic of climate change may not like it when the computer models are finally generated that finally reflect reality. It will be data gathered from satellites that I believe will finally put an end to playing climate games by sampling data in way that produces the desired results. Recent NASA data that shows more heat escapes into space than we previously thought is part of the point I'm trying to make here. I'm not pretending to be an expert on this topic, but I know more than enough to understand that there are people with a vested interest in perpetuating any narrative that casts CO2 as the enemy of man.

No there aren't that many people with a vested interest. Our current models show that the earth will warm, and if anything, the models may be underestimating the amount of warming. Before you go blaming people with a liberal mindset, perhaps you should get your facts right. These are scientists who are saying this. Just look at the Arctic right now, its warming. We may get a 10 year stabilization for other reasons, but then things should start warming again.

Re:Wrong idea (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37267930)

These are scientists who are saying this.

You must be new to this, to the AGW denialist, the word "scientist" lends about as much trust as "crackwhore."

Re:Wrong idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267800)

I wish I had MOD points!

Re:Wrong idea (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37267826)

This again leads back to my conclusion that people with a liberal mindset believe that resources are running out

Resources will never run out, thanks to conservation of matter. What will get tighter all the time, however, is resources per capita. If technology fails to continue its trend of being able to do more with less and if we keep breeding like rabbits then necessarily we will all suffer important changes to our lifestyle as the amount of available resources per individual falls.

Also you have to bear in mind that resources have a cycle - from discovery and mining, drilling, production or whatever - through being manufactured and distributed into usable products, to belonging to someone and being used in the manner they're supposed to be used and finally after succumbing to entropy, being discarded and/or recycled. That means that with many people you have a huge amount of resources "out of the loop" at any given time, meaning that either you have to make goods that last a lifetime, or highly disposable goods that are cycled quickly. Guess which avenue those who make and sell the resources would prefer...

Re:Wrong idea (2)

blueg3 (192743) | about 3 years ago | (#37267994)

This is only true if "resources" is strictly the same as "matter", and note then that it's not really true. Not only do light gases and a small number of space exploration objects leave Earth forever, but radioactive elements are being converted (more or less irreversibly) into different elements.

Only the sum total of energy in the Universe is really conserved by conservation of energy (matter).

However, lots of resources aren't just matter -- from a physics perspective, both harnessable energy and particular chemical configurations are valuable resources.

Thanks to the second law of thermodynamics, the total amount of harnessable energy (not just per capita) is always decreasing.

Re:Wrong idea (5, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37268004)

Resources will never run out, thanks to conservation of matter.

Even that is a bit misleading in most cases. For example, even if you assume that the energy to do so is readily available, turning the exhaust from a car's tailpipe, the heat from it's radiator, the sound waves from it's stereo, the cold air from it's AC system, and the vehicle's forward momentum back into gasoline is most impractical.

Re:Wrong idea (3, Funny)

gordona (121157) | about 3 years ago | (#37268316)

I had a '56 chevy that I put on a bunch of devices that were supposed to save gas. Every few miles I had to stop and siphon the tank to keep it from overflowing!!!

Conservation of matter (2, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | about 3 years ago | (#37268318)

Resources will never run out, thanks to conservation of matter.

As long as you're content with the elements arranged (or dispersed) however they end up, that works pretty well.

On the other hand, if you're looking for phosphorus in quantities sufficient for agricultural use, refining it out of the oceans is not going to be profitable. Likewise with helium from atmospheric extraction compared to tapping into geological gas pockets.

Re:Wrong idea (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 3 years ago | (#37268550)

If technology fails to continue its trend of being able to do more with less and if we keep breeding like rabbits

Actually, it is quite possible that we will stop breeding like rabbits. There is a strong inverse correlation between income and birth rate. As the "developing" world slowly but surely rises out of poverty, global population levels will eventually stabilize. They might even go down. I am not an expert on this but one interesting source of data is www.gapminder.org. Their basic thesis is that the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" is actually narrowing.

Re:Wrong idea (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 3 years ago | (#37267878)

The thing is everyone wasn't to be the guy on record saying I told you so. And they Giggle in Glee if it does happen, even though it may be quite desasterious. (Think Slashdot when there is a severe Microsoft volnerability)

There is a lot of people saying there is a problem. Not not too many coming with valid solutions to it. And like all solutions they come with tradeoffs so this same group of complainers will complain about the solution.

Nuclear is a good solution, but it has good size tradeoffs.

Winds Solar are still not good replacement solutions, but they have less trade offs so they are not complaining as much.

Can we reduce out carbon output, sure, but it will cost in some other area.

Can we reduce our engergy consumption, probably but it will cost us as well.

The problem is sadly is Climate change is an accecptiable tradeoff for the benefits of energy for most people.

Re:Wrong idea (1)

firewrought (36952) | about 3 years ago | (#37267902)

I know more than enough to understand that there are people with a vested interest in perpetuating any narrative that casts CO2 as the enemy of man.

Do you know enough to understand that there's an even larger vested interest in preventing that narrative?

I've stayed away from climate change discussions, but it always seems that this argument is always applied one way -- towards the scientist who do the research. In actuality, it seems like ALL stakeholders (scientist, business leaders, investors, politician) have a major economic bias in how they would have others perceive it. Of course, it's the people who come after us who have the largest economic incentive of all, but they haven't been born yet, so... if climate change is real, they're probably doomed.

Re:Wrong idea (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 3 years ago | (#37268504)

One thing to keep in mind...

"If climate change is real" doesn't care whether the climate change is anthropogenic or natural. When the fan starts getting brown, it doesn't matter how it happened - people get hurt.

Re:Wrong idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37268258)

I have noticed a similar relationship between socialist ideas and resource shortages and certain blogs, dieoff.org comes to mind. I think though that resource shortages are a reality that have to be dealt with somehow.

While global warming is an industrial waste issue, the mineralogical barrier limits the amount of resource inputs.

I suspect that socialist ideas could keep a society stable for longer in the face of such challenges. Notice that I came from a resource starved socialist society. Since that wasnt a great experience I challenge you to find something better without involving denial.

Re:Wrong idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37268426)

If you're worried about the climate not staying exactly the same from one year to the next

Anyone who would follow the Goracle on the topic of climate change

any narrative that casts CO2 as the enemy of man

Strawman arguments are lies.

Re:Wrong idea (1)

space_hippy (625619) | about 3 years ago | (#37267602)

Funny.

But seriously I wish people would change the word "money" to "resources".

Re:Wrong idea (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | about 3 years ago | (#37267758)

Colonizing other planets is *WAY* more difficult than geoengineering Earth where our entire industrial base is. The atmosphere is a super-thin skin over all of us.

I like to help people picture how easy it is to change CO2 levels this way. Picture you have the Hindenburg full of pre-industrial-revolution air. How much gasoline would you have to burn to bring its CO2 levels up from that to modern CO2 levels?

Pre-industrial CO2 was around 280PPM. Today's are around 100ppm more. The Hindenburg held 200,000 cubic meters of gas. STP air density is about 1.2kg/m^3, so the Hindenburg would hold about 240,000kg of air. 100ppm of CO2 from that is 24kg. The carbon content of CO2 is 30%, so that's 7.2kg of carbon. Gasoline has 2.4kg of carbon per gallon. So three gallons of gasoline.

In short, a single fill of a gas tank on your average car could raise the CO2 content of a volume of air the size of *three* Hindenburgs to modern levels (+36%). When something is as diffuse as air, and when you're talking about gasses that are trace even within that, it becomes very easy to mess with them, even when you're talking about an area the size of the planet.

The downside to most geoengineering projects, however, is that they're merely masking. Most of them -- not all, but most -- simply try to hide the effects of one symptom of CO2 rise or another (usually the heat, ignoring the ocean acidification). Several problems come from this. One, you need ever-greater measures to keep masking the CO2 rise, with ever-greater side effects from whatever side-effects that method has, and ever-greater costs. And two, if you ever stop, or your system ever fails, or you discover that the side effects are too great, or whatnot, there's a sudden surge in temperatures as all of the effects you'd been hiding take full force. Really, you need to address the cause, not the symptom. You don't treat cancer with Tylenol.

There are some geoengineering projects, however, that do work on getting the CO2 out of the atmosphere. At the same time, they shouldn't be rushed without further study, or you risk causing more problems than you're trying to solve. The classic CO2 elimination proposal is of seeding the oceans with iron. Some wishful thinkers like to hope that as CO2 levels rise, plant growth will just correspondingly rise and eat up the additional CO2. But most of the world's surface area is not CO2-limited, but nutrient limited -- in the oceans, usually iron; proposing that CO2 will just increase global plant growth is like proposing that adding more sunlight to a desert will increase its plant growth. For most of the oceans, extra CO2 is simply an acidifier, which reduces maximum biomass. So the concept goes, add iron and you increase photosynthetic activity, and thus sequestration, turning the dead zones into oases of life. It's a neat concept, but a lot of things are still widely open for debate. Do you actually increase the sequestration rate, or does the additional bloom all just rot before it can be deposited? Do you cause hypoxia and severely negative downstream conditions from it? Do you rob the ocean of other minerals and cause severely negative downstream conditions from that? Etc. Basically, ocean seeding is something that bears investigation, but not a rush project. We need to know just what we're getting into before we get into it.

Re:Wrong idea (0)

Lifyre (960576) | about 3 years ago | (#37267998)

"Pre-industrial CO2 was around 280PPM. Today's are around 100ppm more."

Would you care to fix those numbers? I'm assuming you're not a moron and it's a typo since the rest of your post was at least mostly coherent.

Re:Wrong idea (2)

cobrausn (1915176) | about 3 years ago | (#37268220)

Colonizing other planets is *WAY* more difficult than geoengineering Earth where our entire industrial base is. The atmosphere is a super-thin skin over all of us.

Yeah, but if we fuck it up on this planet, we risk destroying the entire species. If we try it out on another planet, well, there's always more of those.

"I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space," he said. "It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next 100 years, let alone next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let's hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load." --Stephen Hawking

Re:Wrong idea (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 3 years ago | (#37268280)

I like to help people picture how easy it is to change CO2 levels this way. Picture you have the Hindenburg full of pre-industrial-revolution air. How much gasoline would you have to burn to bring its CO2 levels up from that to modern CO2 levels?

Interesting. But how many Hindenburgs is the entire atmosphere?

Put another way, it took us about 300 years to get atmospheric CO2 from the pre-industrial levels to current.

Re:Wrong idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267858)

Level-III Space Nutter detected. You childish, pathetic, delusional clown, do you have ANY idea, any INKLING in your tiny, cramped two-neuron skull, of what exactly the hell you're pratlling on about? You mentally incompetent mutant, shitting your Gothic, alarmist over-the-top end of the world religious dogma and your delirious fever-dreams of salvation through rocketry into the vacuum everywhere. You uneducated, incompetent arse-buffoon.

Why don't you take stock of all the things you need to survive, oh I don't know, like gravity, a magnetosphere, temperature, air, humidity, light, food, water and see how far you can take our technology into a 100% failsafe mode for 7 billion people, their pets, cars and computers.... To go where?

Get an education you violently insane Space Nutter.

PLEASE come back in ten years and come read how utterly fanatical, retarded, stupid and delusional you sound. Complete failure of the educational system here, folks.

Re:Wrong idea (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about 3 years ago | (#37268540)

We would have to mess up this planet amazingly bad before Mars starts looking like a good option. I hope it won't come to that.

Oh dear (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37267366)

I really hope I'm a long way from Earth before some idiot decides to try one of these things. Otherwise I'll be getting out the skis because we'll be heading for a new ice age.

Though I did like the proposal in the 60s to use Apollo lunar modules to carry big mirrors into orbit which would reflect sunlight into the Vietnamese jungles at night. Abosolutely insane, but good fun.

Re:Oh dear (0)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 3 years ago | (#37267434)

I'm firmly in the Climate Change is real camp and humans are the cause.

Pretending we know enough to try and geo-engineer the environment is absolutely ridiculous. We are much better off trying to change what *we* are doing than to try and jigger with the atmosphere to counter act what we're already doing.

What. Could. Possibly. Go. Wrong. never had so much meaning.

Re:Oh dear (2)

TheSeventh (824276) | about 3 years ago | (#37267468)

Right, don't try and remove carbon dioxide from the air, in fact, don't even look at the viability of it. There's absolutely no reason anybody would ever need to know how to do that.

Re:Oh dear (2)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 3 years ago | (#37267496)

Its already being done in most parts of the world. Lookup Cloud Seeding

Re:Oh dear (1)

nido (102070) | about 3 years ago | (#37267782)

Its already being done in most parts of the world. Lookup Cloud Seeding

Or just look up in the sky. Some days you might see odd "contrails" from jets that don't disperse properly, and after a time there's a funny grid pattern up there, before strange "hazy clouds" form (in what was a perfectly blue sky). The "crazies's" websites say that there are patents for dispersing aluminum and other atomized elements through a jet engine... Or maybe "they" have a fleet of drones with spray nozzles on the wings.

I've seen them in Arizona, and also in southern Oregon. Pictures here, so you know what to look for: ArizonaSkywatch.com [arizonaskywatch.com]

Re:Oh dear (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about 3 years ago | (#37268196)

Climate engineering is already being done in most of the developed and developing world. Lookup Global Warming.

Everyone talks about the weather (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 3 years ago | (#37268182)

Everyone talks about the weather. But no one does anything about it

Illegal interception (2)

samjam (256347) | about 3 years ago | (#37267398)

Sure, illegal interception of the intergalactic parcel post is a nice entry to the rest of the universe!

Wait till the Zargons come around looking for their bundle of palladium and naquadah, and we've not even made parole since last time (whatever it was we did to the sphinx or something).

Re:Illegal interception (1)

samjam (256347) | about 3 years ago | (#37267454)

how did I post to THIS story? I meant to post to the chinese stealing international asteroids story

Re:Illegal interception (5, Funny)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 3 years ago | (#37267628)

Given the tone of most of the comments yours is still more relevant.

Re:Illegal interception (4, Funny)

Lifyre (960576) | about 3 years ago | (#37267944)

And yet when taken with the rest of the comments here it didn't seem that out of place, and honestly made more sense than many.

Law of unintended consequences (4, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | about 3 years ago | (#37267424)

What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Law of unintended consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267476)

WOOPS too cold!

Or, they didn't know what they were talking about and do the opposite.

Re:Law of unintended consequences (3, Interesting)

blueZ3 (744446) | about 3 years ago | (#37267598)

Exactly.

Someone expects the government to diagnose and correctly prescribe treatment for AGW? Where have these people been the last 40 years? Unless you're a basement dweller who has cut off all communication with the outside world, you have to know that "unintended consequences" is the touchstone of modern government action of any kind. We're talking about the same group of brilliant idiots who can't agree on which direction the sun rises and who believe that the solution to the debt crisis is more spending. Hello McFly!

It practically writes itself as a disaster movie script: In a world where the greenhouse gas problem has become too bad to ignore...

Re:Law of unintended consequences (1)

kylemonger (686302) | about 3 years ago | (#37267776)

Yes, there will be unintended consequences but if they aren't worse than the situation you're trying to prevent, you win. Tackle the next set of problems. That's what humanity has been doing since the start of civilization.

The tricky bit isn't coming up with a plan or even implementing it. Rather it's getting everyone with a stake to agree on it. Climate change might be a boon instead of disaster where you live. In that case, you might consider attempts to slow global warming an act of war.

Re:Law of unintended consequences (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 3 years ago | (#37268050)

If a government policy promises consequence A, and gets 95% of A and 5% of unintended consequences, is it something that should just be thrown away?

I'm all in favor of judging a government policy based on the usefulness of its goals and its effectiveness in achieving its goals. I'm not in favor of rejecting all government actions of any kind because it's not going to be 100% of what was planned on.

To make this a bit more concrete: Assume 5% of recipients of unemployment are rejecting job offers because they can live off a government check. Assume the remaining 95% would be homeless and quite possibly forced into a life of crime if they didn't have unemployment checks coming in. Since there are a few people that are taking advantage of unemployment who don't really need it, should we scrap the whole thing? (Note that this is an separate argument from whether government should be in the business of supporting the unemployed at all, since you're argument is based on ineffectiveness of a policy rather than whether the goal is a desired one.)

Re:Law of unintended consequences (1)

brainzach (2032950) | about 3 years ago | (#37268270)

Some technologies are obviously risky but how is removing CO2 from the atmosphere going to create major unintended consequences? We know how the effects of less CO2 because we experienced in the recent past.

Compare this to our current geoengineering project of raising the CO2 levels in the atmosphere where we have no idea what the consequences are.

A dream come true for the Ambulance Chasers (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 3 years ago | (#37267438)

Once we start changing the climate in anyway, no matter how slightly, there will be a lawsuit for every snowstorm injury, rainstorm injury, wind storm injury, cold injury, heat injury,...and the suits will be agianst the researchers, the organizations, the universities, and anyone else connected with this Really Bad Idea.

Re:A dream come true for the Ambulance Chasers (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37267770)

True, this is why we have never tried to change the course of storms, even though we certainly have the technology to do it. For example hurricane Irene could have been redirected a bit towards the middle of the Atlantic, surely for less money than the damage it caused.

Probably doesn't help that there's zero political will to spend money on avoiding/preventing problems before they hit us in the face.

Re:A dream come true for the Ambulance Chasers (1)

vbraga (228124) | about 3 years ago | (#37268054)

this is why we have never tried to change the course of storms, even though we certainly have the technology to do it.

Really? Maybe my Google-fu isn't sharp today but I couldn't find any links. Could you share more about the subject?

Re:A dream come true for the Ambulance Chasers (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37268160)

Whoa you're right, it is hard to find this stuff online. Here's one article:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=can-tropical-cyclones-be-stopped [scientificamerican.com]

I've seen a few documentaries on the technologies involved. Off the top of my head, one of the ideas was to drop a cooling chemical onto the ocean ahead of one side of the hurricane. It would be sort of like "applying the brakes" to that side. There was some similar idea involving the use of algae.

Re:A dream come true for the Ambulance Chasers (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | about 3 years ago | (#37267970)

Not necessarily.

First, just because there might be a lawsuit doesn't mean you don't behave in a profitable activity, it just increases the amount of profit required to justify the risk.

Second, if Congress decides to address the problem, it can specifically prevent related lawsuits, making such defendants judgment-proof for those purposes--or at least can set a very high standard of liability. (e.g. wanton negligence, and perhaps the plaintiff has to show that inaction would not have resulted in more harm to others than you suffered).

Re:A dream come true for the Ambulance Chasers (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37268114)

Once we start changing the climate in anyway

Then by all means, please continue to ignore the likes of HAARP [wikipedia.org] . The article is heavily slanted, provides some misinformation, but still serves as a good basic introduction.

Immediately following the completion of the initial project, weather changed in the US at unprecedented ways. When the Russian's device went online, it changed again, whereby one of the worst droughts in US history immediately began. There are now some 20-30 of these devices online all around the world. According to papers released by FOIR, the USAF has actively sought weather combat capabilities and these projects confirm research created by Tesla. Furthermore, both DARPA and USAF agree these devices easily have the capability to affect global weather and if left on long enough, global climate.

In reality, contrary to the inaccurate and slightly misleading Wikipedia article, this is all proven science. Its a scientific fact these devices can affect global weather. The only question, which governments refuse to answer, is it being used to manipulate weather. According to the DoD and USAF, weather manipulation is a goal of so importance it is considered a matter of national security.

"Once" started many years ago.

Unintentional experimentation (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | about 3 years ago | (#37267470)

We are already doing several forms of environmental engineering

1) sulpher release - who knew it caused acid rain
2) CFC release - Ozone, whats that, and who needs it anyways
3) flooded land for resoivoirs leads to mercury release from rocks that contaminates fish - nah couldn't happen.
4) urban heat islands
5) plane contrails - planes make clouds, again who could make that connection
6) CO2 release from long term geological storage - well it's good for the plants .....

whats a few more.

Re:Unintentional experimentation (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37267792)

True, this is the best argument I've seen for geo-engineering. We're already fucking with the environment drastically with no plan or real intent (but with known negative effects), why not fuck with it in a planned way towards a positive goal?

Re:Unintentional experimentation (1, Insightful)

Uhhhh oh ya! (1000660) | about 3 years ago | (#37267834)

Seriously I can put up with this global warming hype as long as the scientists just use it to get free grants, but they better not start getting carried away and actually screwing stuff up.

I can totally see it in 100 years when we have caused an ice age after releasing something in to the atmosphere in an attempt to stop global warming.

Lets just sit back and see what happens, I remember not to long ago when people were afraid of global cooling.

Re:Unintentional experimentation (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37267856)

One guy was afraid of global cooling and he got onto the cover of Time. It was about as scientific as the Time Cube guy getting mainstream media coverage.

If you did any research into the issue you'd know that. You're another "informed skeptic," no doubt.

Not quite that bad (1)

overshoot (39700) | about 3 years ago | (#37268534)

One guy was afraid of global cooling and he got onto the cover of Time. It was about as scientific as the Time Cube guy getting mainstream media coverage.

Unlike damn near everyone else, I actually looked up that article and read it. The science is not nearly what it's played up to be.

The researcher was actually working with a real climatological problem: from around WWII to the 70s, there was a distinct cooling in global temperatures. If you look closely you can see it in the GISS data. The question isn't "was the Earth cooling" but "what is causing the Earth to cool?"

Well, we later figured it out. It was air pollution. In particular, the huge upturn in worldwide burning of high-sulphur fuels starting in the 30s and accelerating from then through the 70s put a lot of sulphur oxides in the upper atmosphere, and they're pretty good at blocking incoming solar energy (similar to the Mount Pinatubo cooling in the early 90s).

However, atmospheric sulphur has other problems. Like acid rain, ozone depletion, asthma, things like that. So we cut back on it, and the temperatures returned to trend.

At the time, the Earth was cooling -- but the lesson isn't what you'll hear from the people pushing that as a reply to real climate science.

Re:Unintentional experimentation (1)

Palpatine_li (1547707) | about 3 years ago | (#37268158)

How about sulphide release countering global warming? Where are the studies when we need them?

Re:Unintentional experimentation (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 3 years ago | (#37268404)

I am already modifying my bike:

1) bumped into a street sign pole yesterday - who knew my front wheel will turn into 8?

etc.

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

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267482)

The proud mother of god like all ho's
Is jealous of her own shadow

Katrina, Irene (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | about 3 years ago | (#37267514)

Maybe they should look for a way to diminsh the strength and impact of hurricanes and typhoons.

Re:Katrina, Irene (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267666)

But only if they hit the east coast

Re:Katrina, Irene (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | about 3 years ago | (#37267842)

Once fusion or other excess power is viable, the abundance of energy combined with advanced automation and robotic technologies could easily enable even enormously large scale environmental projects that are out of reach today. For example large artificial ocean floating islands producing heat/cold/vapor could easily be manipulating atmospheric condition to prevent hurricanes... There is no doubt that there will be technology in the future that is capable to affect weather this way.

Re:Katrina, Irene (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37268530)

Did you seriously just list Irene next to Katrina?

Idea (1)

32771 (906153) | about 3 years ago | (#37267520)

We could use the remaining half of Oil reserves to do this for instance.

Circular problem (3, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | about 3 years ago | (#37267560)

a report out recently that looked at the viability of large climate engineering projects that would basically alter large parts of the atmosphere to reduce greenhouse gases or basically reverse some of the effects of climate change.

The problem with removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is that those gases (CO2, H2O) are given off as end products in energy production because they are at a low energy potential. To split up or convert CO2 and H2O into other molecules involves putting energy back into them, which defeats the reason why they were created in the first place - to release energy.

In other words, aside from sequestering (burying CO2 deep underground where hopefully it'll never get out again), due to efficiency losses, you are better off coming up with new cleaner methods of energy generation. Any system you develop which can disassociate atmospheric CO2 and H2O will be less effective than simply using that system to generate energy. e.g. Running CO2 scrubbers powered by natural gas would generate more CO2 than it scrubbed. Running a wind/solar-powered CO2 scrubber would remove less CO2 than if you just hooked the wind/solar-powered mechanism up to the grid and used its electricity to offset electrical generation from coal plants. The only technology we have right now which could potentially satisfy both our current energy demands and provide excess power to disassociate greenhouse gases is nuclear.

Re:Circular problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267688)

Running a wind/solar-powered CO2 scrubber would remove less CO2 than if you just hooked the wind/solar-powered mechanism up to the grid and used its electricity to offset electrical generation from coal plants

actually not a bad idea...

As in some parts of the country there is actually too MANY windmills now. They have to turn them off or it will blow out the grid and some times of the year. What if we could use that excess for that reason?

Re:Circular problem (1)

cforciea (1926392) | about 3 years ago | (#37267910)

Hmm, I'd mod interesting if I could. Using our atmospheric makeup as an energy storage medium is a very interesting concept.

Re:Circular problem (1)

Comboman (895500) | about 3 years ago | (#37268414)

There are ways to sequester CO2 that don't require much energy input, like planting trees or spreading iron in the ocean to encourage algae growth. Other climate engineering ideas don't involve sequestering CO2 at all but rather reducing the amount of sunlight absorbed on earth and increasing the amount of sunlight reflected back into space. These can vary from orbiting mirrors, to really high smoke stacks on existing coal-fired plants, to painting your roof white. Many are local and scalable so that the effects/unintended consequences can be measured on a small scale before deploying widely.

No, it won't. (1, Funny)

scottbomb (1290580) | about 3 years ago | (#37267564)

Because people who bought into the BS about how mankind is somehow responsible for the weather are now realizing that it's nothing but a hoax perpetrated by a handful of scientists shilling for research grants, governments desperate for new ways to tax peopole, and a washed-up politician who refuses to debate the issue with anyone who dares to disagree.

Re:No, it won't. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37267908)

Hey dude you typed in the URL for Freerepublic wrong.

Re:No, it won't. (0)

cforciea (1926392) | about 3 years ago | (#37267942)

My favorite part about comments like this is that there's no way anybody could reasonably look at the body available evidence on the subject and come to this extreme of a position. I can go ahead and write the poster off as deficient and not even have to worry about having any sort of adult debate on the issue.

Re:No, it won't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37268198)

ORLY? Who the HELL upvoted this screed?

Like many other petrochemical entities, the Koch brothers became billionaires off extractive industry that does the minimum legal protections and has a history of processes that now look a lot like environmental rape-n-plunder. These are the companies who are bankrolling customized research trying to greenwash their misdeeds and are just now announcing plans to get rid of 'job-killing environmental protection laws' (Eric Cantor's speech yesterday).

Meanwhile, climate scientists generally get paid LESS for climate science work than anyone working in industrial equivalents-- but it's the researchers that get smeared as greedy liars.

Show me all these billionaires that got rich off the scams you're claiming. Hell, just show me a few that have become millionaires. Until then, you're either a liar or what your own team calls a 'useful idiot'.

(I don't know why I bother -- it's no longer 'don't feed the trolls' on /. Trolls implies a counter-groupthink mindset, and /. is increasingly conservative. Let the downvotes begin.)

What could possibly go wrong!? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267586)

Unscientific hype about the flooding risks from climate change will cost us all dear

The warmists have sound financial grounds for hyping the dangers of flooding posed by climate change, writes Christopher Booker

On Friday came the fullest and most expert dissection of the Nature paper so far, published on the Watts Up With That website by Willis Eschenbach, a very experienced computer modeller. His findings are devastating. After detailed analysis of the study's multiple flaws, he sums up by accusing Nature of "trying to pass off the end-result of a long daisy-chain of specifically selected, untested, unverified, un-investigated computer models as valid, falsifiable, peer-reviewed science".

His conclusion is worth quoting at some length:

"When your results represent the output of four computer models, fed into a fifth computer model, whose output goes to a sixth computer model, which is calibrated against a seventh computer model, and then your results are compared to a series of different results from the fifth computer model, but run with different parameters, in order to show that flood risks have increased from greenhouse gases..." you cannot pretend that this is "a valid representation of reality", let alone "a sufficiently accurate representation of reality to guide our future actions".

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/8349545/Unscientific-hype-about-the-flooding-risks-from-climate-change-will-cost-us-all-dear.html

Because if there's ONE thing we're good at (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267642)

it's controlling huge, non-linear systems that we only partially understand.

[/sarcasm]

Re:Because if there's ONE thing we're good at (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37267892)

what could possibly go wrong ? its a great idea.
[/notsarcasm]

Won't work (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 3 years ago | (#37267738)

If ever somewhere in the world someone died because climate related issues after doing things, fingers will point to whoever "knowing" did some change. At least now you can say that you weren't aware of the consequences. But once you say that know the consequences, and did it with the intention of changing climate conditions, you will be seen as responsible.

Already thought about (1)

werfu (1487909) | about 3 years ago | (#37267964)

Frank Herbert has thought the idea in Dune, with satellite controlling the climate. Geoengineering and terraforming is maybe science fiction for now, but I'd love to see Mars and Venus altered to support life. Agreed with today's technologies it would take a millennium, but once we get started, development would accelerate and we'd get better and better at it.

I've got an idea how to increase temperatures (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 3 years ago | (#37268024)

Works the following way:

First, cut down all those huge areas of forests all over the earth, in order to decrease vegetative respiration and general evaporation of water. This gets you a double benefit. It means that you decrease the formation of those pesky clouds with their high albedo, which should increase surface temperature through additional sunshine.
But actually, the temperature increases because less water is evaporated through sunlight, which takes up a lot of energy and severely decreases surface temperatures. (That's why rain forests are cooler than the deserts despite more receiving more sunlight.)

Unfortunately, there are not many forests left to do that - it seems like the next ice age will be unavoidable.

Carbon Harvesting (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about 3 years ago | (#37268030)

I saw a feature on Discovery Channel a while back about solar-powered CO2 extractors. It makes me wonder if you could spin that into carbon fibers directly and produce vacuum formed or injection molded composites for a wide variety of applications.

Carbon is such a versatile element that it would be fantastic to mine it from the air and bend it to whatever use you have while lowering atmospheric CO2 levels; kills two birds with one stone.

Re:Carbon Harvesting (1)

Tickety-boo (1206428) | about 3 years ago | (#37268558)

I've seen these Terrestrial Reclamation Energy Exfoliates too! I hear that when they are fully charged, you can make all sorts of neat stuff out of them chairs, tables, houses...

I know what you are getting at, I just couldn't resist....

fair warning (1)

belloc1 (1118477) | about 3 years ago | (#37268068)

I am going to change the climate unlesss the nations of world give me.... one million dollars!

I've got a great C-E plan: (4, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | about 3 years ago | (#37268078)

1) Stop deforestation, try to re-forest lands previously cleared. This will help remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

2) Try to determine and limit the damage we are/may be doing to the ocean, to help preserve and maybe increase the ocean's natural ability to sequester CO2.

3) Voluntarily control our own birthrates, so that population gradually declines, so that less land is required to be used by mankind, and can thus be returned to natural growth patterns.

4) Exploit carbon-neutral or low-carbon energy generation technologies - you know the list. . . biofuels, solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, hydro, nuclear fission and/or fusion.

5) Continue the trend which has been ongoing since the 1970's to increase energy efficiency, so that we consume less energy to achieve the same levels of benefit (if we can successfully decarbonize our energy supply, this may not be too critical, but may still have an effect on how much land needs to be dedicated to use for growing biofuel precursor plants, wind turbines, solar collectors, etc; and thus unavailable for use by natural forest growth).

earth.bak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37268098)

Can someone please make sure we get an earth.bak before anyone starts editing earth. If we lose the original it will be hard to recreate

in a word, no. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 3 years ago | (#37268312)

it would take incredible amounts of funding to engineer climate, and so naturally one would assume corporations to take the role
this wont work, because the majority of the worst offenders in terms of climate simply dont care about the problem and are only working to
marginalize scientific dissent.

government would have to do something like this, but in america it would never work due to our various legislative and regulatory branches being
comprised largely of corporate kingpins and mouthpieces.

TL;DR: we couldnt even adopt Kyoto, what the hell makes you think climate engineering is a possibility.

Re:in a word, no. (1)

brainzach (2032950) | about 3 years ago | (#37268498)

Corporations can profit off geoengineering.

The problem with the Kyoto Protocol was that it required nations to use less energy which would hurt energy companies profits. It will also put one country at a disadvantage because other nations will ignore the Kyoto Proctocol and have the advantage higher energy usage. There is no economic incentive for an individual nation to follow the Kyoto Protocol.

With geoengineering, we can theoretically burn all the cheap fossil fuels we want and not have to worry about the effects of global warming. Everyone wins.

Err on the side of caution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37268356)

Perhaps we should just stop now. Seriously. Almost everything we've done has fucked some part of the planet up, and there are ALWAYS unintended consequences. Maybe we should try to minimise our effects on the Earth as much as possible and hope that nature will fix itself over time.

Good IT professionals don't roll out a change into the live environment without trying it out in a test environment first. Unfortunately, we don't have another planet. Nature has done a lot better than us so far, so I think we should just be careful and leave the environment to itself.

50% of /. titles are lies (0)

w3bd4wg (938648) | about 3 years ago | (#37268456)

I read a story. Comment says story is exaggerating. Scumbag slashdot leading me astray. For The Fail. :(((((

Don't change it until you understand it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37268490)

When our weather models stop being accurate after a few days, I don't think tampering with climate on that scale is a good idea.

As for the whole climate change debate, I don't know enough about it to speak to it, but I bet the conclusions are probably a little more subjective than objective. I think the math behind all of this is rather chaotic. At least thats what I've observed...

If we are worried that activity X is causing climate change, we need to stop/minimize activity X instead of trying to apply solution Y without knowing exactly how the whole system works.

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