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Scientists Plan "Artificial Volcano" Climate Experiment

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the lets-cool-things-down dept.

Earth 292

First time accepted submitter tonyt3 writes "Scientists plan on conducting an unusual climate experiment at a Norfolk airfield next month. They plan to spray water into the air about 20 km high to mimic volcanic particles, hoping that their findings could lead to a solution to global warming. From the article: 'Pouring 10 million tonnes of material into the stratosphere each using 10 to 20 giant balloons could achieve a 2C global drop in temperature, the scientists believe. Sulphate emissions from the Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines in June 1991 reduced world temperature by 0.5C for two years.'"

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Not much air (2)

AJWM (19027) | about 3 years ago | (#37402326)

The air's pretty thin 1000 km up -- considering that the Space Station orbits at less than half that. Maybe 10 km?

Re:Not much air (3, Informative)

AJWM (19027) | about 3 years ago | (#37402344)

Okay, TFA (I know, I know) says 20km.

Re:Not much air (3, Informative)

DanTheStone (1212500) | about 3 years ago | (#37402400)

That's the "long-term vision"; this test is only at 1 km.

Re:Not much air (0)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | about 3 years ago | (#37402864)

20 km - what is that, around 85 stones?

Re:Not much air (1, Funny)

jonadab (583620) | about 3 years ago | (#37402594)

Even 20km is still well into the stratosphere. Water vapor is a MUCH more potent greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that has all the environmentalists' shorts in a bunch. (Yeah, I know, quantity is the issue, and the headline doesn't say exactly how much water they're planning to spray around up there.)

Perhaps the more interesting question is, "Where can I get my hands on the technology to spray water that far?" Because that would be WAY more awesome than the water pistols we had when I was a kid.

Re:Not much air (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402672)

Water vapor is a MUCH more potent greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that has all the environmentalists' shorts in a bunch.

First off, go fuck yourself.

Second of all, the persistence of CO2 and water vapor in the atmosphere are completely different. Which you either don't know (in which case you're a dumbass), or you do know (and you're being a trolling little shit). Either way, it's because of shitmonging little fuckheads like you that we will be forced to make these experiments into actionable plans, you microphallic little fuck.

Lastly, go fuck yourself.

Re:Not much air (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402722)

It's possible, though unlikely, that you have a severe, severe, severe rage problem.

Re:Not much air (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402928)

Go smoke a joint or something...take the edge off. Yeah, he may a dumb ass but you're the one looking like a total dickwad.

Re:Not much air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37403082)

A total dickwad would post under his name and not as AC. Don't elevate his status. I do agree some self medication seems to be in order.

Re:Not much air (2, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 3 years ago | (#37402892)

Water vapor is a MUCH more potent greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that has all the environmentalists' shorts in a bunch.

Under certain conditions, yes. Studies suggest that thick, low-lying clouds provide net cooling effects thanks to shading and reflecting more than blanketing.

But this experiment isn't trying to use water vapor to provide a cooling effect - the ultimate plan is to use some other material. The test uses water 'cause it's cheap, abundant and environmentally benign. The "real" plan might use water as a carrier agent for whatever it is they actually send up.
=Smidge=

Re:Not much air (1)

knarfling (735361) | about 3 years ago | (#37403054)

TFA is still a bit confusing. At one point they are talking about 20 pipes, each of them being 1 km long, and at another point someone starts talking about the pressure needed to move the water 20 km up.

Re:Not much air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402378)

The air's pretty thin 1000 km up -- considering that the Space Station orbits at less than half that. Maybe 10 km?

lol won't the balloons get popped by collisions with orbiting satellites? ;)

Re:Not much air (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37402424)

Maybe that's the plan. Form an ice ring around the earth by building on satellite orbits, and then the solar winds will blow cool...space wind at the planet. Just like the old ice in front of a fan trick!

Re:Not much air (1, Offtopic)

sycodon (149926) | about 3 years ago | (#37402446)

"But we do know it was us that scorched the sky"
- Morpheus

Re:Not much air (2)

pz (113803) | about 3 years ago | (#37402634)

Another failure of Slashdot editing in basic facts checking. The article states 1 km. The stratosphere is between 10 and 50 km, so 1,000 km would go well above that. The nominal edge of the atmosphere is about 600 km. Someone got a little too excited with the zeros, methinks.

Re:Not much air (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402814)

"Someone got a little too excited with the zeros, methinks."

It must be a US prick who only knows imperial measurements, he gets easily confused when he sees units the rest of the planet is using.

1000 Km! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402330)

That's really high... I don't think so.

1000km high.... right.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402334)

1,000km high?? Really??

Seriously, read the summary before posting. I mean, good poasting!

1000m 1000km (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402360)

The summary is off by three orders of magnitude - after all, there is no air in 1000km to keep the water suspended.
Try again, tonyt3!

Re:1000m 1000km (1)

SEWilco (27983) | about 3 years ago | (#37402536)

The summary is off by three orders of magnitude - after all, there is no air in 1000km to keep the water suspended.

Obviously, then, the water will fall down on the atmosphere. And give the ISS a pretty ice glaze.

Re:1000m 1000km (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 3 years ago | (#37402584)

Or we will get a ring of ice around Earth - just like Saturn.

That can probably also solve the problem, but it may actually cause the problem of an ice age instead if something goes wrong.

"What can possibly go wrong?"

From The Article... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 3 years ago | (#37402658)

The long-term vision is to tether 20 kilometre-long pipes to balloons the size of Wembley stadium.

1000 M not km (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402366)

1000 M not km!

Paging Dr. Bob, Paging Dr. Bob... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402410)

... please pick up the red courtesy phone when you manage to free one of your arms from the straightjacket.

Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (1)

flaming error (1041742) | about 3 years ago | (#37402418)

My understanding was water vapor was more potent than co2 at trapping heat. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas)

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402490)

the plebeians don't (and ever will) understand that. personally I think if someone is so concerned with climate change they ought to limit their own personal contribution by securely placing a plastic bag over their head, so as to safely contain greenhouse gases without 'polluting' the environment

Do you have such contempt (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about 3 years ago | (#37402590)

for empathic people of all bents, or just those that interfere with your own ignorant, self-serving actions?

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (-1, Troll)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 3 years ago | (#37402550)

Shhh! It's supposed to be a secret that CO2 accounts for less than 10% of greenhouse gases, and that the amount generated by human activity is further less than 10% of that CO2. If people really knew that we were destroying our freedoms and way of life hoping that less than a percent of real change is enough, they might not go with the program!

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (2)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | about 3 years ago | (#37402652)

Except that the water vapor in the atmosphere is largely there because the carbon dioxide has made it warm enough. Remove the carbon dioxide and we all freeze (among other problems).

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402738)

Thanks for that explanation. I was under the wrong impression that radiation from the Sun had something to do with our balmy temperatures.

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (-1, Troll)

tmosley (996283) | about 3 years ago | (#37402670)

Exactly. Water is a much larger "problem". If they want to "fix" global "warming" then they should demand installation of reflux devices on smokestacks and cars to catch the water vapor coming out. That, in addition to being more practical than halting commerce, is also much more effective and IMMEDIATE in impact. In fact, you could quite possibly use variable reflux condensers to actually control a good portion of the weather if you had enough of them and they could be centrally controlled.

Climate physics fail. (5, Informative)

mbkennel (97636) | about 3 years ago | (#37402844)

Argh, blargh. I really hate it when people are so sure about completely wrong science, especially as their aggressive misinformation is being exploited by civilizational sociopaths.

I am usually nice on the internet, but this will be an exception.

Slashdot posters usually have some knowledge of Newtonian mechanics 101 and will rightly laugh at those who don't believe in say, conservation of momentum.

Well, this is the same level of blunder, so here goes the explanation, as nice as I can make it without wanting to strangle internet ignoramuses.

Yes, water is a greenhouse gas, and yes every climate scientist since 1900 or whatever has known this, and there has never been any conspiracy to "suppress" this, especially given that the water cycle is at the core of every weather and climate model and observational data set.

And human "emissions" of water are completely and totally irrelevant (say like the post above) because the planet is in statistical equilibrium with those very large sources of water known as "oceans". Water, namely vapor and clouds, are *feedbacks* with timescales of two weeks, vs dozens to thousands of years for carbon dioxide. For example, if you magically took all the water out of the atmosphere, how long would it take to get back to normal? A few weeks. If you magically saturated the atmosphere completely with water, how long would it take to get back to normal? A few weeks. If you magically took all the CO2 out of the atmosphere, how long would it take to get back to normal? Many, many millions of years.

The amount of water in the atmosphere is determined in large measure, by,what---yes the temperature! Hotter air absorbs more water, and yes, the water vapor will add its own greenhouse effect. The water vapor amplifies global warming which was induced by the excess of long-lived greenhouse gases like CO2 (and others) introduced by human activity. (Clouds are less certain---they may go both ways for heating/cooling in various cases, this is a complex area of current study---but the base level effect of vapor {clear, humid air} is undisputed and significant)

The scientists who have been studying this for decades know what they're talking about.

Re:Climate physics fail. (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#37403068)

Don't bother. This is about the only thing tmosley posts over and over. He is absolutely fact resistant, preferring to wallow in his own ignorance which he manages to twist into preceived superiority and then, to top it off, into a persecution complex. You know, that world wide conspiracy of scientists hooked on the mythical "funding" being out for all of us.

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#37402698)

I know, right? And just look at those morons in New Orleans who complained a few years back about that hurricane. It was way less than 1% of the water in the Atlantic! What harm could it have done? Same goes for people who get stabbed -- the knife wound severs less than 1% of the blood vessels in your body, so what's the big deal?

Question.... if you have two one hundred pound weights on opposite sides of a scale, and add one pound to one of them, what happens?

Not that any of that matters, as you're either a fool or a liar. CO2 accounts for more than 10% of greenhouse gases (closer to 15%), and human activity accounts for more than 10% of atmospheric CO2 (closer to 30%). So which is it, did someone trick you, or are you a liar?

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402846)

Greenhouse gases raise Earth's temperature from from 260 K to 288 K. If CO2 is responsible for 10% of that, it's responsible for a 2.8 K temperature change. If we assume the temperature change is linear with the amount of CO2 a doubling of the CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere will result in a 2.8 K temperature increase. Which is within the range of temperature change climate scientists predict for a doubling of the CO2 in Earth's atmosphere.

So why do you think your little factoid is an argument against global warming?

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (5, Informative)

brit74 (831798) | about 3 years ago | (#37402862)

(1) "It's supposed to be a secret that CO2 accounts for less than 10% of greenhouse gases"

When these gases are ranked by their direct contribution to the greenhouse effect, the most important are:
Gas / Greenhouse Gas Contribution (%)
Water vapor (H2O) 36 – 72 %
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 9 – 26 %
Methane (CH4) 4 – 9 %
Ozone (O3) 3 – 7 %
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas

It's also generally accepted that these are not independent, since increases in CO2, CH4, and O3 increase the temperature, which increases the water vapor: "The average residence time of a water molecule in the atmosphere is only about nine days, compared to years or centuries for other greenhouse gases such as CH4 and CO2. Thus, water vapor responds to and amplifies effects of the other greenhouse gases."

(2) "and that the amount generated by human activity is further less than 10% of that CO2."
The CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from 270-280 ppm a century ago to 390 ppm today (and it was down to 180 ppm in the last ice age). 390/280 = 40% increase. And, before you say that not all the 110 ppm increase is due to human activity, I submit this graph showing that CO2 levels over the past 600,000 years have never been above 300 ppm until the 20th century ( http://static-www.icr.org/i/articles/af/does_carbon_dioxide_fig3new.jpg [icr.org] )

You know: I'd think there was a lot more to climate change denial if the facts presented by climate deniers weren't almost always wrong.

I would be interested to know, though, how they think this would lower the temperature - for example: if water vapor at different elevations have different effects.

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 3 years ago | (#37402940)

A 1% change in the Solar constant would be catastrophic for civilization.

yes, climate is that sensitive for humans.

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 3 years ago | (#37402608)

They're not spraying water vapour.

Presumably the water they do spray will increase the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, which is bad, so you wouldn't want to build the working model using water. But for a test water droplets have the advantage of being well accepted as non-toxic.

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (1)

jonadab (583620) | about 3 years ago | (#37402626)

Yes, SIGNIFICANTLY more potent. (Actually, carbon dioxide barely works as a greenhouse gas at all. You need, like, gazillions of tons of it to even make a difference.)

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402938)

Is anyone sucking millions of tons of water out of the earth every year and throwing it into the air? What is the half-life of water vs CO2?

The water is just for the test (5, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | about 3 years ago | (#37402758)

This is just a first test of the technology. If they were really going to use this for climate engineering, they'd use "clay, salts or metallic oxides suspended in liquid" (according to TFA) to reflect some sunlight back into space before it hits the earth.

As you can imagine, just figuring out whether you can pump millions of kilograms of stuff 1,000 meters into the air (not 1,000 km, as the submitter wrote) is an open question. Their ultimate goal is to get it 20 km up. For the first test, you use what's cheap: water.

The water itself is a greenhouse gas, but water molecules condense and fall as rain. It quickly returns to the existing equilibrium. The goal is to put up particles that would stay there for a while. Unlike water, they don't condense and fall out as quickly.

Before it fell, the water would reduce sunlight a bit. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, but water in clouds isn't vapor; it's condensed droplets. Those droplets can reflect light; that's why cloudy days are dark. The goal isn't to produce water clouds, which would only be temporary and would be too much darkening. The goal is to put up enough particulates to get a slight reduction of incident light without having to continually pump new particles into the atmosphere.

(Note: I'm not crazy about geoengineering as a solution to climate change, but the experiment is still interesting.)

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (0)

Bemopolis (698691) | about 3 years ago | (#37402766)

Correct. Do you also understand what rain is made of? (Hint: it's not CO2). Maybe once you understand simple things like that you won't depend on your demonstrably limited knowledge of climate to post inane statements on the Internet.

Re:Isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas? (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | about 3 years ago | (#37402872)

They are making ice particles not water vapor, and if there is too much water vapor in the air, the water vapor falls down as rain or snow.

I saw this already... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402430)

Peter's volcano erupts all over Marsha and her friends. Actually, that sounds like the tagline to a porn movie.

Man... (3, Funny)

Fned (43219) | about 3 years ago | (#37402434)

...this totally blows away my papier-mache-and-baking-soda model.

I bet those guys are going to win the Science Fair.

It's like using deoderant instead of soap (4, Insightful)

bennomatic (691188) | about 3 years ago | (#37402456)

Sometimes you're on a crowded bus and you can tell that the person next to you decided they didn't have time to actually get clean, but thought they could mask their odor with deoderant. Unfortunately, in some cases, what you get is a retch-inducing mixture of BO and deodeo.

Solutions like this to the climate issue remind me of those folks on the bus. If there's a real problem and if there are real things we can do to address the cause, let's do them. If, instead, we don't address the cause but do something else to mask the issue, then it seems likely that we'll just end up with an even bigger mess. I can just imagine scientists from another planet examining the burnt out husk of Earth and saying, "There's no life there; the atmosphere is an unlivable mix of carbon dioxide and sulphates!"

Re:It's like using deoderant instead of soap (1)

show me altoids (1183399) | about 3 years ago | (#37402578)

If it's cheap, it works, and it buys time it may still be worth doing though. I don't think anyone sane is calling it a long term solution.

Re:It's like using deoderant instead of soap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402602)

We are (slowly) taken steps to curb our dangerous emissions, but that won't help deal with what's already done.

Re:It's like using deoderant instead of soap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402714)

"There's no life there; the atmosphere is an unlivable mix of carbon dioxide and sulphates!"

Or they'll say "I can't believe there's no life there. the atmosphere is an incrredible mix of carbon dioxide and sulphates!". You assume that carbon based life is the only kind. Really its just the only kind we know of so far.

Re:It's like using deoderant instead of soap (5, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 3 years ago | (#37402822)

You've unwittingly described the climate that gave rise to life in the first place. It wasn't until organisms started photosynthesis that a new type of life came along and radically altered the atmosphere, killing almost everything else that came before it in the Oxygen Catastrophe of the Siderian. Which in turn allowed all the animal life we know to come to exist.

This is the fundamental problem with green ideologues, they think that the biosphere is static and that life is impossible if it changes. You need to wrap your head around some facts. Mass extinctions created the current biosphere. If you think mass extinctions are bad, you must by extension think that the current biosphere you currently hold next to sacred is also ultimately a perversion of the state of life before said extinctions.

Life can spring back from virtually nothing. During the greatest mass extinction, 90% of ocean-dwelling species perished completely. Have you noticed how they're not still empty? More importantly, have you noticed how there are a lot more species in the oceans now than in the Permian? Over time, biodiversity has always increased, regardless of how severe any event has been over short periods.

The Chinese have a saying: 'Jiu de bu qu xin de bu lai' which means 'If old things don't go, new things will never come.'

Of course my heresy against green dogma will be properly downmodded.

Re:It's like using deoderant instead of soap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37403026)

Species appear, change the world and then die out. It happens. Plants appeared and filled the atmosphere with the respiratory poison oxygen, killing off everything else. The dinosaurs appeared and went extinct and paved the way for us. We've appeared and filled the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. What if we're just the paving stone for a more advanced species?

too high ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402466)

"1,000 km" ... Wow ! is there an atmosphere there ? :-P

Evidently they never saw the second highlander (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402468)

Everyone knows the shield corporation is the root of all evil.

Hmm 1991 huh? (0)

Mashiki (184564) | about 3 years ago | (#37402470)

I remember that lack thereof summer here in Canada. Rain or clouds, with little to no sun and 12-18C from March to September, then right back to snow. I should note that our usual summer temperatures around here are in the 25-35C range.

Cool! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402476)

No, that was it. All in the subject line, now move on.

What could possibly go wrong? (2)

cowwoc2001 (976892) | about 3 years ago | (#37402486)

I'd much rather save the earth by spending and using less than dumping even more crap into the air. Quick fix anyone?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 3 years ago | (#37402568)

yes! Let's just get everyone to stop using cars, rebuild the entire material transportation infrastructure, sweat in the summer, freeze in the winter, and stop watching television! easy peasy!

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

cowwoc2001 (976892) | about 3 years ago | (#37403076)

Who said anything about stopping everything? I mean putting a damper on consumerism (buying more than we need) and disposable products (made in China, breaks after two days). The while thing is wasteful. You want to help the environment? Make it more expensive to buy disposable products than reusable ones. Substantially increase the cost of non-vital items. Funnel the resulting funds back into some research fund for reusable energy.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about 3 years ago | (#37402606)

But where's the profit in that?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

cowwoc2001 (976892) | about 3 years ago | (#37402990)

There is plenty of profit in R&D. You simply need to tax the heck out of consumerism and use the resulting tax money into researching reusable energy.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

tmosley (996283) | about 3 years ago | (#37402690)

You first. Start by turning off your computer, permanently.

Evidence? (0)

Banichi (1255242) | about 3 years ago | (#37402498)

I still haven't seen any overwhelming evidence that global warming is real. Just a lot of hot air from talking heads and religious pseudo-science "true-believers".

Any actual proof that isn't bought-and-paid-for or biased by one side of the debate or the other?

Maybe (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about 3 years ago | (#37402612)

you should pull your head out of your ass and actually read something. Not from your friends at fox, however, they've obviously damaged your brain enough.

Re:Maybe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402718)

That's another thing we get: a bunch of wild-faced liberal jerks that think it's good to yell, denigrate, and persecute someone just because they don't agree... perhaps if you engaged in a decent, humane conversation or even debate we might be able to agree with you, instead of biting our heads off...

Re:Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402740)

Seems to me that you should pull your head out of Gore's ass. You so easily put people in a box.

This guy is asking for some data, or are you the type to shout down anyone who asks this type of question?

You are a freaking moron, and I suspect the type of person who you hate.

Re:Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402954)

You are a shill for climate-change deniers.

Re:Evidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402832)

I'm just hoping to live long enough to see the effects of climate change, not global warming as you keep saying. As climate change increases the size and strength of hurricanes and tornadoes. I won't be laughing as the poor bastards in the trailer parks are made homeless, but the destruction of the expensive coastal resorts will make me chuckle, as the very rich people that deny the changes and pollute the most will be affected the most.

Re:Evidence? (2, Informative)

mbkennel (97636) | about 3 years ago | (#37402898)

Yes. The animals and birds and glaciers don't respond to human biases, and what they're doing is clear indication of warming.

The denialists are getting worse---they started out saying "there's no warming" (after the 1990's volcano had some temporary cooling), and then when the warming got clear, they said "well we don't know that people are responsible" (after all it could be magic fairys who just happen to change infrared emissivity of the atmosphere in exactly the way predicted by liberal-infected chemistry professors say that greenhouse gases do, when of course they don't, because in the atmosphere they're special and closer to heaven and don't have the same vibrational modes that they do in the lab). And now they're going back to denying that there's warming at all?

Math does not work out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402506)

... 10 million tonnes of material in the stratosphere using giant balloons.
What displacement need the balloons need to have for that to happen?
I don't think we have enough helium, because we can only reach that height with stratospheric helium balloons.
10.000.000 tonnes or 10.000.000.000 kgs, come on... get real!

I mean, we don't HAVE ENOUGH HELIUM ON EARTH!
The total amount of molecules of helium - would you ever manage to extract them - in an environmental friendly way... are just 3800 million tonnes.

So I guess it's time for the idiots to wake up and do something useful with their lives :)

Re:Math does not work out... (1)

Iskender (1040286) | about 3 years ago | (#37402624)

Hydrogen still works perfectly fine as a lifting gas. Doubly so when you're doing crazy last resort geoengineering.

Re:Math does not work out... (1)

tmosley (996283) | about 3 years ago | (#37402716)

Just use hydrogen. If they burn up, big deal, they just produce more water. These aren't being used to move people, and (presumably) it won't be done over a populated area.

Re:Math does not work out... (2)

Coren22 (1625475) | about 3 years ago | (#37402952)

Except the idea is not to lift tons of stuff, but a pipe that pumps the stuff up and sprays it. The balloon only needs to lift the pipe and the fluid in the pipe at any time, not the total of the fluid pumped up over the course of the project.

good (2)

kylemonger (686302) | about 3 years ago | (#37402526)

I'm glad scientists are working on ideas like this. The reality is that we, the human race, are not going to stop burning fossil fuels. We'd best get on with figuring out how to deal with the resulting problems rather than continue dreaming that everyone is going to agree to stop.

It's like a smoker ... (3, Interesting)

MacTO (1161105) | about 3 years ago | (#37402532)

It's like a smoker using air filters to clean up second hand smoke. Sure it may reduce the consequences of their actions, but it doesn't negate the fact that the addiction is the source of their problem.

That being said, I don't want to dismiss their research altogether. The data will probably be useful for improving climate models and we may just have to resort to such tactics since we've been doing relatively little about climate change even though we've been aware of the issue for decades.

Re:It's like a smoker ... (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about 3 years ago | (#37402888)

Well the people who deny global warming ultimately want free reign to pollute the global Commons without consequence. It's tragic.

This option, at least, doesn't involve us simultaneously convincing everyone on the planet to not be selfish bastards with shared resources. "You think it's okay to dump whatever crap you want to into the sky for a profit, consequences by damned? Well then you certainly can't stop us from shooting our own stuff into the sky and blocking out the sun a little."

It's not ideal, but it may be viable.

water isn't light (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402572)

How much energy does it take to get 10 million tons of water 10 km (seriously, 1000km? please.) up into the air?

How much coal would you have to burn in order to run the generators to power the pumps?

Re:water isn't light (1)

eparker05 (1738842) | about 3 years ago | (#37402804)

The answer; a lot of coal would be needed to run this program
The uncomfortable truth; relatively little coal would be needed to run this program.

The world consumed 4.74*10^20 joules of energy in 2008, it is safe to say that at least half that was carbon based.
the simple equation m*g*h say that operating at 100% efficiency, the pumps would need 1.96*10^15 joules per year to pump 10 million tonnes of material 20 km high.

Now say the pumps were only 10% efficient, and assume my 50% carbon based energy claim is true, then a tax of 0.01 % (yes; one hundredth of one percent) on all carbon based energies would fully fund the program's energy needs with a little surplus. Assume the infrastructure/administration also costs something then a tax of 0.02% would probably take care of the whole dang thing.

Compare a 0.02% tax with the exponentially higher taxes guaranteed in a cap and trade scenario.

Mod parent up (1)

eparker05 (1738842) | about 3 years ago | (#37402828)

PS: mod parent up.

I may disagree with him, but the guy has a good point (if only he had some karma)

Man-made global famine? (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 3 years ago | (#37402636)

What those idiots don't seem to realize, is that the effects of volcanic eruptions and the associated decline of global temperatures has always had catastrophic consequences. Be it the year without summer 1816 because of the Mt. Tambora [wikipedia.org] eruption, the famines of 536 [wikipedia.org] or the the Hatepe Eruption of 180AD [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Man-made global famine? (0)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37402664)

Indeed. The Global Warming Scare is moving from stupid to outright insane; they seem so hung up on their 'warming is bad, mkay' propaganda that they're eager to kill off much of the world's population through artificial cooling.

Re:Man-made global famine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402706)

Come, come, there are computer models. Computers do not lie. therefore the models are TRUE!

Be careful what you ask for.

Re:Man-made global famine? (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 3 years ago | (#37402868)

What a pathetic strawman. "warming is bad mkay"? Are you for real? Go read some actual literature from climate scientists, not the caricature offered up by propaganda machines funded by parties with undisclosed conflicts of interest.

A true climate scientist would not say "warming is bad", but instead might say something more like there is a very narrow range of global climates in which humanity has prospered, and climates which are too hot or too cold could have devastating consequences on human societies around the globe.

For that matter, you seem to think that global warming is the only effect of climate change. I have another, much better example of climate change - ocean acidification.

Re:Man-made global famine? (1)

Sciros (986030) | about 3 years ago | (#37403058)

So what we should be working on is "climate stabilization"! >_>

We are talking about the idea of duplicating the effects of a volcanic eruption so as to "counter" ... warming. Not ocean acidification. Not cooling in some regions vs warming in others (climate change, indeed, is different in different parts of the globe). No. Particulates limiting the amount of sun that reaches the surface leads invariably to cooling.

Re:Man-made global famine? (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | about 3 years ago | (#37402920)

There have been some historical studies of CO2 levels over the last 65 million years, in the last 50 million years the CO2 level has been slowly trending downward....

At the rate it was going it was going in another 100 million years the CO2 would have been so low that plants would start having a very hard time growing.

Re:Man-made global famine? (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 3 years ago | (#37402924)

So you admit that a couple of degrees of temperature change can have catastrophic consequences? But somehow when people do it on the hot side, there's no problem?

(Already in the USA crop yields for corn were down because nighttime temperatures were so hot---increase of nightime temperatures is precisely the effect from global warming).

2CaOH + 2CO2 => H2O + 2CaCO3 (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 3 years ago | (#37402650)

Balloons should detonate up there and spray calcium hydroxide particles everywhere. My idea my patent.

Re:2CaOH + 2CO2 = H2O + 2CaCO3 (1)

Megahard (1053072) | about 3 years ago | (#37402730)

And presumably you get your CaOH by heating limestone.

Re:2CaOH + 2CO2 = H2O + 2CaCO3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37403050)

That's what the sharks with frickin laser beams are for!

UN and legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402694)

I know the UN was considering banning this kind of solution [discovery.com] . Anyone know if they've changed their minds?

So how's their carbon footprint going to look? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#37402696)

Pouring 10 million tonnes of material 1 km in the sky is going to require a fuckload of energy.

I know, "but they're using balloons!"

Balloons aren't free lift. You have to fill them with something, and you have to produce that something from something else.

Helium? Limited supply. If you think Carbon footprint is a big problem, you ain't seen Helium footprint yet.

The solution to greenhouse gas is to STOP PRODUCING THE STUFF.

Re:So how's their carbon footprint going to look? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 3 years ago | (#37402752)

"The solution to greenhouse gas is to STOP PRODUCING THE STUFF."
You first.

Real solution (0)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 3 years ago | (#37402734)

If we have a Mount Pinatubo 0.5C 2 year temp decrease, and GW is increasing 0.1C over 100 years, then that only covers (0.5C / 0.1C * 2 * 100) or 1000 years. If they achieve 2C change, then it only covers 4000 years! What are they thinking? Obviously not about out (great^n) grand children!

We need to eliminate the problem at it's source! Al;l the experts tell us that GW is caused by humans, so we need to eliminate all humans in order to save the planet! We cannot permit the existance of a single one! We eliminated smallpox, we can eliminate this scourge too! Once they are all gone, our decendents will finally be safe from the terrible consequences of Global Warming!

what could possibly go wrong (-1, Troll)

subl33t (739983) | about 3 years ago | (#37402798)

Climate Scientists (the honest ones anyway) will admit that they still don't quite know how all the climate ingredients fit together, new climate drivers are still being uncovered. Adding a 'solution' to 'problem' that isn't fully understood will only produce disaster.

Maybe a couple honest skeptics will get to see this post before the bed-wetting alarmist sheep mod it down the memory hole.

Re:what could possibly go wrong (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 3 years ago | (#37403104)

Exactly. [wordpress.com]

We're already seeing the fallout of this ideology in the form of mandatory burning of food in Europe and the USA as biofuels. Not to mention that this debate is hiding the fact that the developing countries are catching up [wordpress.com] to our economies while the production of energy resources cannot be expanded indefinitely. In other words: The industrialized countries will have to share those resources with the developing countries, which is something they are perfectly unwilling to admit to the public. And now they are trying to pull out any argument they can find to limit the use of those resources, without having to admit that this is what they are doing. The problem with that is the distortion of science through politics pushing scientific inquiry away from "politically sensitive" studies (those studying negative feedback mechanisms of climate) into ones that are more compatible with prevailing notions (those studying positive feedbacks).

If you are not looking for negative feedback mechanisms - or don't fund research on negative feedback mechanisms - guess what, all you'll find are positive feedback mechanisms that will inevitable support your preconceived conclusion that the positive feedback far outweighs the negative. And this is much worse than ignorance - it is selective ignorance.

Why are they using potable water? (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | about 3 years ago | (#37402812)

Potable water is way too precious a resource to be feasible for such an 'experimental' (read: crack-pot) idea:

FTFA:

''We're going to try to pump tap water to a height of one kilometre through a pipe as a test of the technology.'' ...
Pouring 10 million tonnes of material into the stratosphere each using 10 to 20 giant balloons could achieve a 2C global drop in temperature, the scientists believe.

also:

Experts believe particles of clay, salts or metallic oxides suspended in liquid would prove more effective than the sulphates produced by real volcanoes.

So, why aren't they starting with salt water, again? If their experiment achieves everything they ever hoped for, they're still going to have to do it all over again with sea water anyways...and see if the resulting salt-water rains affect anything (gee, you think it would?) Or they're going to have to start building some big-ass desalination plants...and I just bet they won't be solar-powered, either....

(FWIW, '10 million tonnes' of water = 10 million cubic meters = 10 billion litres of fresh water...)

Re:Why are they using potable water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37402886)

On the bright side if they build the desalination plants and manage to run them off solar power, the technology could be used to give more people access to drinking water.

Re:Why are they using potable water? (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | about 3 years ago | (#37403064)

On the bright side if they build the desalination plants and manage to run them off solar power, the technology could be used to give more people access to drinking water.

Or, as would be more likely, they'll only build half the desalination capacity they need, and 'appropriate' the rest from existing plants to save money...although, to be fair, I suppose this scheme may also double as a fresh water transportation medium, since one would expect rain downwind of the balloons...if they set it up correctly and prevailing winds are more or less constant, that is.

Morons all of them! (0)

jameskojiro (705701) | about 3 years ago | (#37402852)

CO2 is not the issue it is the sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides that are killing the plants, and plants eat CO2. In the united states the problem has pretty much been solved in terms of how bad it was in the 60's - 80's.

However in china they don't give a rats arse about the sulfides and nitrogen gasses that they spewing and there is a bad acid rain problem and REAL plant and animal KILLING pollution. Of course dead plants and animals decompose and release CO2 as bateria break them down so that makes it even worse, plus with fewer plants there are fewer carbon sinks.

CO2 is not as big a boogey man when it comes in terms of life. We get more heating from roads and rooftops in metro areas than CO2. If the CO2 was an issue the snow in the suburbs would melt as fast inthe winter as the snow 10 miles out inthe country. We are panicing over microclimates.

The "Bronx Cheer" Solution? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 3 years ago | (#37402904)

Couldn't we achieve the same effect, if all 5 billion+ of us on the planet go outside and blow a raspberry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowing_a_raspberry [wikipedia.org] ? Ya know, like, spraying water particles in the air? It would certainly be a lot of fun if we had a World Bronx Cheer Day.

. . . augmented by World Spit-Take Day . . .

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