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Geo-Engineering to stop Climate Change

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the trying-to-make-a-better-tomorrow dept.

Biotech 551

MattSparkes writes "Following the latest report of the United Nations climate change panel, there has been a flurry of renewed interest in so-called geo-engineering. This is the theory of using technological schemes to stop climate change. These can range from sun-shades orbiting the Earth, to pumping millions of tonnes of sulfur into the atmosphere to the bizarre idea of painting the ground white to reflect more light. Let's reduce our emissions now, before I have to go and paint my roof bright white." Thanks to jamie for pointing out another potential solution of seeding the southern oceans with iron to spur plankton growth.

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anything (3, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982700)

anything to stop the people from acting responsibly?

Re:anything (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982832)

This kind of crap just amazes me. People think up trillion dollar plans like putting up million of tiny umbrellas into geosynchronous orbit to deflect sunlight, but we can't get people to just not drive SUVs, or even go so low as to take the bus, or even walk to the store which is only a block away. I've never owned a car, and I'm really not convinced that I ever want to. There's only a couple instance where I would really want a car, like picking up groceries, but they have a delivery service anyway, for when I want a lot of groceries. Going away for the weekend isn't too much of a problem. Renting a car for 1 weekend a month costs less than most people's insurance.

Re:anything (3, Insightful)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983050)

The problem is that there's just too many people. Trying to control or influence all of them is nigh on impossible, short of making the things you describe illegal, which would probably lead to a revolt.

A large segment of the population, any population, will always be stupid, thoughtless, and self-centered.

It doesn't help that the fastest growing and arguably the most powerful ideology in America today, evangelism, actively encourages bigotry, narrow-mindedness and a contempt for scientific principles that would be funny if it weren't so dangerous. And oh, the icing on the proverbial cake is that it doesn't matter what we do with the planet anyway, because it's all going to pass away any day now, and the faithful few will be taken to a paradise where they don't have to worry about anything at all, while the faithless multitudes will burn in hell forever.

Re:anything (3, Interesting)

Hamilton Publius (909539) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983352)

An experiment that hints we are wrong on climate change
Nigel Calder, former editor of New Scientist, says the orthodoxy must be challenged

When politicians and journalists declare that the science of global warming is settled, they show a regrettable ignorance about how science works. We were treated to another dose of it recently when the experts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued the Summary for Policymakers that puts the political spin on an unfinished scientific dossier on climate change due for publication in a few months' time. They declared that most of the rise in temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to man-made greenhouse gases.

The small print explains "very likely" as meaning that the experts who made the judgment felt 90% sure about it. Older readers may recall a press conference at Harwell in 1958 when Sir John Cockcroft, Britain's top nuclear physicist, said he was 90% certain that his lads had achieved controlled nuclear fusion. It turned out that he was wrong. More positively, a 10% uncertainty in any theory is a wide open breach for any latterday Galileo or Einstein to storm through with a better idea. That is how science really works.

Twenty years ago, climate research became politicised in favour of one particular hypothesis, which redefined the subject as the study of the effect of greenhouse gases. As a result, the rebellious spirits essential for innovative and trustworthy science are greeted with impediments to their research careers. And while the media usually find mavericks at least entertaining, in this case they often imagine that anyone who doubts the hypothesis of man-made global warming must be in the pay of the oil companies. As a result, some key discoveries in climate research go almost unreported.

Enthusiasm for the global-warming scare also ensures that heatwaves make headlines, while contrary symptoms, such as this winter's billion-dollar loss of Californian crops to unusual frost, are relegated to the business pages. The early arrival of migrant birds in spring provides colourful evidence for a recent warming of the northern lands. But did anyone tell you that in east Antarctica the Adélie penguins and Cape petrels are turning up at their spring nesting sites around nine days later than they did 50 years ago? While sea-ice has diminished in the Arctic since 1978, it has grown by 8% in the Southern Ocean.

So one awkward question you can ask, when you're forking out those extra taxes for climate change, is "Why is east Antarctica getting colder?" It makes no sense at all if carbon dioxide is driving global warming. While you're at it, you might inquire whether Gordon Brown will give you a refund if it's confirmed that global warming has stopped. The best measurements of global air temperatures come from American weather satellites, and they show wobbles but no overall change since 1999.

That levelling off is just what is expected by the chief rival hypothesis, which says that the sun drives climate changes more emphatically than greenhouse gases do. After becoming much more active during the 20th century, the sun now stands at a high but roughly level state of activity. Solar physicists warn of possible global cooling, should the sun revert to the lazier mood it was in during the Little Ice Age 300 years ago.

Climate history and related archeology give solid support to the solar hypothesis. The 20th-century episode, or Modern Warming, was just the latest in a long string of similar events produced by a hyperactive sun, of which the last was the Medieval Warming.

The Chinese population doubled then, while in Europe the Vikings and cathedral-builders prospered. Fascinating relics of earlier episodes come from the Swiss Alps, with the rediscovery in 2003 of a long-forgotten pass used intermittently whenever the world was warm.

What does the Intergovernmental Panel do with such emphatic evidence for an alternation of warm and cold periods, linked to solar activity and going on long before human industry was a possible factor? Less than nothing. The 2007 Summary for Policymakers boasts of cutting in half a very small contribution by the sun to climate change conceded in a 2001 report.

Disdain for the sun goes with a failure by the self-appointed greenhouse experts to keep up with inconvenient discoveries about how the solar variations control the climate. The sun's brightness may change too little to account for the big swings in the climate. But more than 10 years have passed since Henrik Svensmark in Copenhagen first pointed out a much more powerful mechanism.

He saw from compilations of weather satellite data that cloudiness varies according to how many atomic particles are coming in from exploded stars. More cosmic rays, more clouds. The sun's magnetic field bats away many of the cosmic rays, and its intensification during the 20th century meant fewer cosmic rays, fewer clouds, and a warmer world. On the other hand the Little Ice Age was chilly because the lazy sun let in more cosmic rays, leaving the world cloudier and gloomier.

The only trouble with Svensmark's idea -- apart from its being politically incorrect -- was that meteorologists denied that cosmic rays could be involved in cloud formation. After long delays in scraping together the funds for an experiment, Svensmark and his small team at the Danish National Space Center hit the jackpot in the summer of 2005.

In a box of air in the basement, they were able to show that electrons set free by cosmic rays coming through the ceiling stitched together droplets of sulphuric acid and water. These are the building blocks for cloud condensation. But journal after journal declined to publish their report; the discovery finally appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society late last year.

Thanks to having written The Manic Sun, a book about Svensmark's initial discovery published in 1997, I have been privileged to be on the inside track for reporting his struggles and successes since then. The outcome is a second book, The Chilling Stars, co-authored by the two of us and published next week by Icon books. We are not exaggerating, we believe, when we subtitle it "A new theory of climate change".

Where does all that leave the impact of greenhouse gases? Their effects are likely to be a good deal less than advertised, but nobody can really say until the implications of the new theory of climate change are more fully worked out.

The reappraisal starts with Antarctica, where those contradictory temperature trends are directly predicted by Svensmark's scenario, because the snow there is whiter than the cloud-tops. Meanwhile humility in face of Nature's marvels seems more appropriate than arrogant assertions that we can forecast and even control a climate ruled by the sun and the stars.

Re:anything (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983380)

You don't have to make things illegal, some taxation goes a long way. Why don't people just admit that gas is not as cheap as it used to be? Lately, it required for example going to Iraq for a very expensive war. Many countries rebuilt themselves in a way which makes it more attractive to use public transports, which are usually safer and often faster than going by car anyway!

Re:anything (4, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983488)

Trying to control or influence all of them is nigh on impossible, short of making the things you describe illegal, which would probably lead to a revolt.

False. [] If you just assess the actual costs of these activities on the people that do them, they have a strong financial incentive not to do them -- this is how it works with every product on the market. You don't need to, for example, encourage people to avoiding eating "unnecessary" foods -- the "unnecssary" expense already does that. If food was as socialized as roads and air currently are, I can 100% guarantee you we'd see proposals to give tax credits to people who exercise less than 1 hour per week in the hopes that this would lead them to request less food from the Food Department. (Just as you see proposals for tax credits for switching to specific energy-efficient technologies.) People who eat too much would be derided as "stupid, thoughtless, and self-centered."

If you simply taxed in proportion to the costs imposed on others, people would be free to do whichever energy-saving alternative is least inconvenient for them. Even if they do nothing, hey -- at least you have a huge war chest with which to research better technologies or reduce the impact.

If you can't bring yourself to advocate that, you have to keep in mind any other solution is probably less efficient. And if you can't trust a government to administer that properly, you have to think about what it would do with a less efficient solution.

Re:anything (2)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983156)

People think up trillion dollar plans like putting up million of tiny umbrellas into geosynchronous orbit to deflect sunlight, but we can't get people to just not drive SUVs.

It's the same phenomenon at a different scale. Man sees himself as the ruler and conqueror of his environment, instead of coexisting with it. That's the root problem. If people realized that the earth was, literally, a physical extension of themselves, maybe they wouldn't find it so easy to abuse.

Re:anything (4, Insightful)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983238)

While I agree that the orbiting umbrellas is a ridiculous proposal, I think you're looking at things from a skewed perspective with regard to automobiles.

First of all, you obviously live in a major metropolitan area to be able to not own a car (that is, you must have copious and effective mass transit available to you). For many people across the country, owning a car is not an option if they are to be able to get ANYWHERE (see work, school, hospital, etc). While I agree that if one can feasibly find alternative means of transportation, then one should opt for that method, but we shouldn't demonize the very idea of owning a car under the assumption that the only reason people do so is out of selfishness/laziness.

Second, the problem isn't in owning SUV's or other gas guzzling cars, it's the fact that those cars (and car makers, oil companies, and government decision makers) are forcing us to power those vehicles with petroleum. The idea of getting rid of these vehicles is a crude attempt to treat the symptom and not the disease. Don't make it a bad thing for the family with 4 kids to drive an SUV because they need the space, make it bad that no one seems interested in solutions to powering these vehicles differently.

In short, just keep in mind that your particular circumstance (i.e. being able to walk to the store and carry your groceries home) isn't necessarily everyone else's (like the mother of 4 with the SUV...imagine her carrying those groceries when the nearest store is 7 miles away)

Re:anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983248)

Not everyone has the luxury of living close to it all, as it is in mid to large cities.

Re:anything (2, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983344)

People think up trillion dollar plans like putting up million of tiny umbrellas into geosynchronous orbit to deflect sunlight .... I've never owned a car, and I'm really not convinced that I ever want to.
Thoughts are cheap. Moving to an urban center where there's a grocery store a block away, and decent public transit, is much more expensive. (And there's probably less fresh clean air, fewer trees, less green space, more noise.) If you're already comfortably settled in NYC or Toronto or Los Angeles or something like that, good for you! Cities are neat. And if you're complaining about people who are already in a big city, that's one thing. But I live in a mid-sized city (200,000) and our bus service is... pretty marginal. You could probably use it to commute if you really had to (and were willing to walk a good distance to get there), but you really need to drive if you want to get to half the places worth getting to.

Myself, I drive a little old 1988 Volkswagen Fox that gets awesome gas mileage. Not that I've ever had to drive it very far, either.

Are we really sure the SUVs are a problem? (1)

emil (695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983346)

It appears that we are well within tolerances [] of atmospheric co2:

When dinosaurs walked the earth (about 70 to 130 million years ago), there was from five to ten times more CO2 in the atmosphere than today. The resulting abundant plant life allowed the huge creatures to thrive. . . . Based on nearly 800 scientific observations around the world, a doubling of CO2 from present levels would improve plant productivity on average by 32 percent across species.

However, this does not obviate the need for research into emergency cooling of the earth and much greater research into the behavior of the sun. It is well agreed that, even before the end of the main sequence (and expansion into a red giant), the sun will burn off our oceans [] :

As Earth's Sun has a mass of one solar mass, it is expected to become a red giant in about five billion years. It will become sufficiently large enough to engulf the current orbits of some of the solar system's inner planets, including Earth.[5][6][7] However, the gravitational pull of the Sun will have weakened by then due to its loss of mass, and all planets but Mercury will escape to a wider orbit. On the other hand, Earth's ability to carry life will be gone before the Sun gets brighter as its hydrogen supply becomes depleted. The extra solar energy will cause the oceans to evaporate to space, causing the Earth's atmosphere to become similar to Venus'.[8]

Eventually, cooling technology will be required. Exactly when this will be is anybody's guess (because our understanding of Solar processes is so poor - we spend all our money driving toy cars around on Mars). We should start on it now.

Re:anything (5, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983370)

Actually, not driving SUVs doesn't help much. The real alternative to SUVs (and trucks, minivans, etc.) is lighter vehicles. Hybrids sound good, but really their efficiency is almost entirely based on their weight, not the fact that the oil is being burned at a powerplant rather than in your car. In fact, power generation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gasses [] .

What would help quite a lot is converting from coal and petroleum to nuclear power generation. That would pretty much solve the problem over-night, slashing our CO2 production by nearly 50%! What impact that would have on the climate... isn't actually 100% clear. It certainly is likely to have some impact, though.

Personally, I'm not concerned. I'd rather address mercury pollution than greenhouse emissions any day of the week. After all, warmer weather never caused my father to stop being able to tie his own shoes .... :-/

Re:anything (0, Flamebait)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983426)

Not driving IS a TRILLION DOLLAR PLAN. People think the benefits of a car are simply free. Exactly what type of fucking vehicle do you think they deliver your groceries in moron?

If you want a cooler planet you don't drive and not use electricity, because I don't care and I like driving I'll keep driving my car.

The main problem with Global Warming is it's driven by the sun so there is fuck all we can do about it anyways.

Re:anything (1)

wakim1618 (579135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982928)

It is not an either/or situation. Research into such technologies is useful as a complement to behaving more responsibly. People can behave more responsibly and there will be nevertheless be some warming. Or they don't need to alter their behavior as much if we manage to implement some terra-forming technologies. After all, most of the households in the world do not enjoy the level of energy consumption (and green gas production) enjoyed by OECD countries such as the US and France.

Re:anything (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983020)

But most of the solutions are quite out of reach unless the environment has been destroyed and we have no other choice. Telling people that we can just terraform the earth is a bad thing, because it gives them the wrong impression that it's OK if they mess with the environment because science will just fix it. In the end, I think people are better off with cutting down on emissions, and even saving themselves a few bucks rather than destroying the environment and then spending trillions of dollars to fix the problem.

Science along fixes nothing, people do. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983172)

It's not science that will fix global warming, people will solve it.
That's the whole point, if each and every person does not come up with their own unique solutions, applying their talents and abilities, then even if there is more science, it will not be solved.

This is a multi-disciplinary challenge. It will not be solved simply by terraforming, although terraforming does help, we have a long long way to go to create a more efficient planet. The lack of efficiency exists everywhere, from the lack of economic efficiency which causes the massive amounts of joblessness and poverty in the third world, to the poor designs of our houses, to the unsustainable use of our land and natural resources. So just telling people to consume less solves nothing, the solution is to consume efficiently, and produce efficiency.

Re:anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983254)

Holy Crap this is like the 5th?
Article in two weeks on global warming.

Note to the editors ease up people your not going to convince anyone.
Or has the page count been going down recently?

Re:anything (1)

endianx (1006895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983398)

Yeah I agree. If humans are partially responsible for global warming, then the solution is to just stop doing whatever it is we are doing to cause the problem.

I do not think we understand this stuff nearly well enough for us to intentionally go messing with it. We could make things much worse.

Well... (4, Funny)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982714)

As an architect, let me say that the moment you try to force me to paint my beautiful roof-top gardens white, I will be forced to get...hostile...

If only "hostile" meant more than "think about sending a nasty e-mail."

Re:Well... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982802)

Don't worry -- you can still feel morally superior to people living with a quarter of the space (indoor and outdoor) by pointing out how you use CFL's, while they don't.

CFL++ (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982942)

People who don't use CFL's in this day and age IMO are just being anally retarded.

Modern CFLs are cheaper for the consumer, better for the environment, and indistinguishable from incandescents when placed in any enclosed fixture.

Re:CFL++ (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983078)

No, they're not. They're really, really not.

Most calculations I've seen, even assuming you have to buy a stronger light to replace incandescents, give an effective ROI of over 100%, untaxed. (You're not taxed on avoiding consumer expenses.)

I wet my pants at the idea of a 13% ROR, pre-tax.

You really think I'm passing that up for no reason?

By the way ... when you focus on controlling inputs (what kinds of light I can use) rather than outputs (total energy use, or total CO2 emissions necessitated) ... you start to give the impression you're more interested in micromanaging others' lives than actually saving the environment. Just a heads-up.

Re:CFL++ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983304)

Have you even tried them? Basing it off of stuff you read on some dude's blog is foolish, at least buy a few and try them out in a room.

Sure, in unenclosed situations they are noticeable, but in most enclosed fixtures they are perfectly fine. You can adapt, you know, and you will soon get used to the slightly different color or brightness.

Unless you have some terrible eye sight, you really don't need to live in something as bright as a surgeon's room.

Er... huh? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983334)


CO2 emimssions don't come from nowhere. The majority come from power plants (yes... this figure dwarfs automobile emissions).

As long as the majority of our power still comes from coal and oil, less power used == less emissions. It's not rocket science.

Re:CFL++ (1)

greginnj (891863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983246)

Modern CFLs are cheaper for the consumer, better for the environment, and indistinguishable from incandescents when placed in any enclosed fixture.
Help me out here, before I finish my Kool-Aid on this -- what exactly does 'modern' mean? I bought a few packs of 100W-equivalent CFLs about three years ago, and they had a _horrible_ burnout rate -- more than half of them burned out within two years. Not cheaper for the consumer, at the approx $4/bulb price I paid. Not a no-name brand, either; I believe they were Phillips.

And what's the fully-loaded environmental cost? Do they still contain mercury, like traditional fluorescent tubes? What happens when they get dumped in a landfill and broken open? How does their environmental cost of production compare to that of incandescents?

I'm willing to use CFLs, (and still do) but I haven't heard these questions answered anywhere. If CFLs really are such a great solution, we shouldn't be afraid of such questions...

Mercury is as much a non-issue as it can be (4, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983384)

Well you must have a bad batch, I have had every light on my house running on CFLs for over 2 years now, not a single burnout. They should have had a 5 year warranty on them - why didn't you pursue it?

As far as mercury content - I suggest you read up. Not only is the amount 1/5 of that found in a common watch battery, because you only replace the bulbs every 5-6 years you're using less mercury than someone who buys one AA battery in 5 years : s/questions-answers.cfm?attr=4#mercury []

Re:Well... (1)

MattSparkes (950531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982804)

We'd have to monitor the effect every few months, and instruct people to lighten them up or darken them.
'This month we all need to go with battleship-grey to keep the optimum temperature...'

Re:Well... (1)

niconorsk (787297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982826)

Well, I would think that having roof-top gardens, assuming those are actual living plants, would be quite good for reducing carbon dioxide levels. If every single building in the world had a garden on top of it, I think we would take quite a big bite out of the problem. Not to say that someone won't decide to force people to paint their roofs white. The government's capacity for doing stupid things will never cease to amaze me.

Re:Well... (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983088)

I have been thinking that maybe the government should sponsor ( foot part of the bill )in high sunlight zones ( like southern Florida, southern Texas, maybe even in California ) road pavement that is a light shade of gray instead of black.

Given, it's not much of a solution, but it might reduce just a very small amount. I keep thinking it's a whole bunch of small solutions that will solve some warming issues.

Re:Well... (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983326)

That is the whole problem with global warming - there isn't one big solutions. And while all the small solutions may add up to a solution to climate change, they certainly will add up financially.

The other problem is inertia. Even if every new road were constructed of light concrete, rather than dark asphalt, how long before there is even a 5% increase in concrete roads? And then what is the cost differential between concrete and asphalt?

Lets face it we're lazy and cheap, but I think (could be wrong) that we are more lazy than cheap so some expensive but easy (for the general public) solution - what this article talks about - are more attractive than options that are hard, but cheap solutions.

I think we're more likely to launch trillions of orbital sunshades than to convince China (or even Pennsylvania) to stop burning coal.

Re:Well... (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983408)

And while all the small solutions may add up to a solution to climate change, they certainly will add up financially.

And according to some analysis I've seen, not finding a solution will certainly also add up to big negative amount of money.

Re:Well... (2, Funny)

SlashdotCrackPot (1019530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982830)

It's ok man, Chia-Shingles come in multiple colors of white: White, Off-white, supremacist, Mother of Pearl, and yes even the ever so popular "Tighty Whitey."

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982846)

As an architect, let me say that the moment you try to force me to paint my beautiful roof-top gardens white, I will be forced to get...hostile...

Will enough roofs get painted white to counter the number of solar collectors being installed for hot water, pool heaters, PV and other dark surfaces?

You put up a black solar panel and you just thought you were doing the right thing.

climate change is a liberal myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982718)

you can't produce any proof of it. hh.

Re:climate change is a liberal myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983144)

Yeah, nor can they produce proof that the earth cicles the sun and that earth is older than 5000 y.o.. Go play on the white house lawn. When you grow up, try to avoid the war just like any normal republican.

Re:climate change is a liberal myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983362)

Environmentalism as a metaphysical ideology and as a worldview has absolutely nothing to do with natural sciences or with the climate. Sadly, it has nothing to do with social sciences either. Still, it is becoming fashionable and this fact scares me. The second part of the sentence should be: we also have lots of reports, studies, and books of climatologists whose conclusions are diametrally opposite.

Indeed, I never measure the thickness of ice in Antarctica. I really don't know how to do it and don't plan to learn it. However, as a scientifically oriented person, I know how to read science reports about these questions, for example about ice in Antarctica. I don't have to be a climate scientist myself to read them. And inside the papers I have read, the conclusions we may see in the media simply don't appear. But let me promise you something: this topic troubles me which is why I started to write an article about it last Christmas. The article expanded and became a book. In a couple of months, it will be published. One chapter out of seven will organize my opinions about the climate change.

Environmentalism and green ideology is something very different from climate science. Various findings and screams of scientists are abused by this ideology.

Dr. Václav Klaus the second president of the Czech Republic and a well respected professor on climate change []

Okay, now i'm scared (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982720)

We're all going to die.

Bad Idea (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982730)

The road to permafrost is paved with good intentions.

tunable 'nuclear winter' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982744) precisely counteract the contribution due to global warming?

Re: tunable 'nuclear winter' (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983048)

> precisely counteract the contribution due to global warming?

[Dr. Strangelove, looking at thermometer on the wall]: "Ok, one more ought to do it."

Why is everyone so afraid of change? (1, Insightful)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982750)

Personally I think it'd be kind of nice for a greater portion of the world to be upgraded to tropical and sub-tropical.

Cheaper vacations. And the superhurricanes would take out all of those damn snowbirds in Florida.

Re:Why is everyone so afraid of change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983242)

Except the current "tropical and sub-tropical" will also be upgraded to "unlivable".

Scares me... (5, Insightful)

spikexyz (403776) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982778) think we're clever enough to find a technical solution that massive alters the fuctioning of a biosphere we understand to little about and not cause bigger, unanticipated problems.

Re:Scares me... (1)

spikexyz (403776) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982818)

Scares me to think that we think we're...I mean.

Re:Scares me... (5, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982882)

The Simpsons: Australia edition

Skinner: Hm, it would be great if we had something to hunt here. I know! Let's import rabits and turn them loose!
Lisa: But they'll have no natural competition and could devastate the ecosystem!
Skinner: Don't be silly, then we'll just turn cats loose. They'll go feral, and the bunnies won't have a chance.
Lisa: But cats are even worse in the wild!
Skinner: Don't be silly, then we can just bring in leopards. You think cats have a chance against them?
Lisa: But leopards are even more dangerous!
Skinner: Don't be silly, if it ever gets bad, we can just give everyone a high-powered rifle and tell them to shoot the leopards on sight.
Lisa: Isn't it kind of dangerous to tell people to fire high-powered rifles at rapidly-moving targets in population centers?
Skinner: Don't be silly, we'll just abolish the right to a trial by jury and have the death penalty for accidental killings. You think anyone's stupid enough to be reckless with a rifle if that's the consequence?
Lisa: But then you'll have a totalitarian government!
Skinner: Ah, but that's the easy part -- then we just vote in a new constitution.

Re:Scares me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983330)

Haha... I was thinking of this one:

Skinner: Well, I was wrong; the lizards are a godsend.
Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

I'd rather paint my rooftop with solar panels (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982784)

White paint is a lot cheaper in the short run and being an American I'm incapable of thinking more than 3 months into the future.

My crazy solution: (3, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982796)

Find some way to vent 20% of the planets atmosphere into space. That should get rid of enough CO2.

Re:My crazy solution: (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982958)

That's easy, all you have to do is to crash the moon, and as a bonus, you'll have far enough dust in the atmosphere to totally cancel the greenhouse effect and few enough survivors sothat you won't have to worry about natural resources for a few hundred million years.

Re:My crazy solution: (1)

dyslexicbunny (940925) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983256)

I have a better plan. The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (I just googled CO2 exhale rate and they sound legitimate) estimates the average person exhales 1 kg/day of CO2. Assuming the world population is 6.7 billion people, this leads to ~2.45 billion metric tons of CO2 a year.

Clearly, we can reach the goal of 1 billion tons a year for ten years by simply asking people not to breathe as much. I'll be sending out the scheduled rotation for when you can breathe in about an hour so just hold your breathe in anticipation.

Richard, let me know when I can get my check. Can it be a big one like pro golfers get? I watched Happy Gilmore last night on TBS and would like one too.

Re:My crazy solution: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983302)

If only there were some way to connect the atmosphere to space...

Re:My crazy solution: (1)

SlashdotCrackPot (1019530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983350)

Find some way to vent 20% of the planets atmosphere into space. That should get rid of enough CO2.
Hey, your plan is half done!! We've already made you a hole big enough for the exhaust vent out of the Ozone layer.

Problems in the way (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982798)

While I found speculation on technological solutions for climate change entertaining in the terraforming context of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy (beginning with Red Mars [] ), I question whether the same concepts would work for Earth. Using some kind of orbital shade to limit sunlight would cause problems with wildlife. If you've been through a total solar eclipse, you've seen how the birds go crazy, imagine sudden loss of sunlight lasting for a long time. And who's going to pay for this? In terraforming another planet, you might have companies willing to invest in the context of development of mining, but it's hard enough to get even governments to allocate funds for climate responsibility.

next use for algae/plankton (4, Interesting)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982842)

Harvest the top layer of them, concentrate and convert them to biofuel using TCP [] (total conversion proces, a kind of wet pyrolysis)
A biofuel tanker with the appropriate machinery would go out on the ocean with a load of iron (or iron rich earth), spread the iron and at the same time harvest the algae and convert them to biofuel. Since it injects more minerals than it harvests, more carbon will be removed form the carbon cycle than would be harvested with the biofuel.
Just an idea I would not like to see patented.

Re:next use for algae/plankton (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983258)

Well, groups are already working on just this idea. The funny thing is that others are perusing the conversion of cellulose to ethanol/oil. I find the later one laughable. It is inheritantly a batch process of the feed stock (used by pigs and cattle) then mulched into the ground. Worse, the process is spread over a 2-d area. In contrast, algae is a stream process AND is a 3D. What that means is that it will use a fraction of the land, resources, and energy that cellulose (and other approaches) will use.

Reminds me ... (2, Funny)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982866)

... of Futurama.

Let's start dropping giant ice cubes into the sea to stop global warming!

Why enforce silly rules like cutting down emissions if you can come up with a half-baked crazy idea instead?

Stop screwing with ecosystems (5, Insightful)

ThePopeLayton (868042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982910)

How many times do we have to screw up an ecosystem before we learn that we don't understand ecosystems well enough to predict what our acts will do.

1st. In Moab, Utah the forest service planted Russian trees to prevent the erosion of the river bed, only to find out that the plants have drained the river and killed many endogenous plants and animals.

2nd. Cane Toads were introduced into Australia to eat the insects that prey on the sugar cane. It turns out that the insects that eat sugar cane in Australia and Hawaii are completely different and there are no predators that can eat the Cane Toads. Now Australia is over populated with a Cane Toads which again are killing the natural plant life and animal life.

3rd. I can't think of another off the top of my head but I am certain there are probably hundreds of examples of this.

We must stop screwing with the ecosystems. When I hear of orbiting solar shields and massive projects to paint the desert, I get really scared because a scientist who really understands the delicate balance of the ecosystem would never dare to suggest such an idea. Only one who doesn't and is looking to make a buck and get on time for "saving the planet from global warming" would do it. These ideas will only result in causing more problems then they solve.

Re:Stop screwing with ecosystems (2, Insightful)

steevc (54110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983136)

Someone introduced a few rabbits to Australia so he could shoot them. There's a few million now, even after myxomatosis [] was used to try and control them.

Pigs and goats have ruined a few ecosystems. Rats too, but they were not put there intentionally. Gardeners have introduced a few plant species that that taken over, e.g. giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed.

Ecosystems only get balanced over long periods. I'm sure there are plenty of cases in pre-history where a new species has moved in and destroyed what was there before, but eventually a predator/parasite/disease will move in or evolve to control it.

You would hope that we know enough now not to just introduce a species without planning for controlling it's spread. In any case it should be possible to re-forest using local species in most cases. I expect someone will propose genetic manipulation to help things along, but that has it's own dangers/unknowns.

Re:Stop screwing with ecosystems (3, Insightful)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983166)

3rd. In Arizona they planted broom grass (or something like that) to stop erosion, only to find that it bridged the natural fire breaks in the habitat. A region that used to suffer few fire is now threatened annually.

4th. By not allowing woodlands to burn periodically, we've created the potential for much worse destruction by fire.

5th. I'm sure people can think of others.

Re:Stop screwing with ecosystems (1)

mlk (18543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983332)

Grey Squirrels were introduced to the UK as a mix of Red & Grey squirrels were prettier than just red. []

Re:Stop screwing with ecosystems (2, Funny)

thefirelane (586885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983420)

How many times do we have to screw up an ecosystem

Don't worry, come winter the apes will all freeze to death.

Fixing what isn't broken (5, Insightful)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982916)

Ok, lets say the world is warming up. Is that bad? Seriously, is that really bad? Who has determined this? Where do they live? What are their motives?

At one time when for natural reasons the earth had lots of CO2 in the atmosphere it warmed up and taller trees grew towards the poles. Great prairie fires dumped millions of tons of CO2 in weeks. Warmer temperatures and more trees resulted. This reduced CO2 and on came a subsequent ice age. It also left behind coal, natural gas and tar sands where today it is too cold for this to happen.

Nature is just fine tuning for the 6.5 new critters crawling on it. It needs to warm up to have more vegetation to scrub out the CO2. Let nature do it's thing.

Man contemplating whole scale planetary changes like this is similar to giving children an atomic bomb kit.

Re: Fixing what isn't broken (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983026)

> Ok, lets say the world is warming up. Is that bad? Seriously, is that really bad?

Consider the direct cost of moving all the world's coastal cities to higher ground.

Consider what's going to happen when the world's current breadbaskets turn to deserts, and some of the present day's have-not countries find themselves sitting on the new best farmland.

> Nature is just fine tuning for the 6.5 new critters crawling on it. It needs to warm up to have more vegetation to scrub out the CO2. Let nature do it's thing.

Yeah, nature doesn't care. But most of us kind of like our easy dinosaur-free lifestyle, and would like to pass it on to our children.

> Man contemplating whole scale planetary changes like this is similar to giving children an atomic bomb kit.

Yeah, probably so. But we're being forced into the terraforming business whether we like it or not.

Cutting emissions is surely the safest way to manage it. (And for those of you still denying that its anthropogenic, it hardly matters. We have the need and the power to do something about it, and it's past time we got started.)

Re: Fixing what isn't broken (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983216)

What makes you think it would be economically costly to move the cities? Remember the timescales we're talking about are hundreds of years. Most buildings simply don't last nearly that long.

Simple attrition should take care of the problem. No one would actively move the cities anywhere, but in a couple hundred years people would notice that some cites just kind of waned away, while others shifted slightly.

Re: Fixing what isn't broken (2, Insightful)

woozlewuzzle (532172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983298)

To me, all those things you mention simply sound like new business opportunities.

"Consider the direct cost of moving all the world's coastal cities to higher ground."

For everyone having to spend a dollar to move there's someone else making a dollar. Encouraging spending is good for the economy.

"Consider what's going to happen when the world's current breadbaskets turn to deserts, and some of the present day's have-not countries find themselves sitting on the new best farmland."

When cars became popular, the guys making horseshoes found themselves becoming mechanics or going out of business. Change always brings troubles to those who refuse to change. Globalization is taking the low-level jobs and moving them to places that see them as high-level jobs. There are people who want to stop globalization because of the threat to their way of life and don't care that there are benefits to other people's way of life. Change is a given. It's all about opportunity.

"Yeah, nature doesn't care. But most of us kind of like our easy dinosaur-free lifestyle, and would like to pass it on to our children."

We don't have the world our parents had and they didn't have the world that their parents had. Heck, already our kids don't have the world we had. I think that's called adapting to your environment. Mankind's ability to do that has kept him at the top of the food chain for a long time.


Re: Fixing what isn't broken (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983462)

Okay, first of all: I'm not a big OMG Global Warming guy. I think, now, that it's happening, but we'll deal with it, and it's not going to be the end-of-the-world issue certain people are painting it as. Now, that said...

For everyone having to spend a dollar to move there's someone else making a dollar. Encouraging spending is good for the economy.
WOOP! WOOP! WOOP! WOOP! Alert! Alert! Broken window fallacy! Broken window fallacy! []

Re: Fixing what isn't broken (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983468)

And what's going to happen when the worlds desserts turn into lush forests?

There's not only bad, there's a lot of good. Flooding that cost hundreds of millions of dollars provided an agricultural yield that was worth billions more than it would have been.

It's not all bad, it's just different. There's always been trials and tribulations, and weather has always both helped us and hurt us, and the future will be no different.

Re:Fixing what isn't broken (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983176)

But but but change is scary!

We have to totally rethink everything and come up with new processes to prevent change!

I don't believe or trust ether side of this debate anymore, but at the same time conserving energy and emitting less waste makes sense to me so I guess I am for new technologies.

Remember we do have a relatively safe, clean, carbon neutral and power source that the rest of the world seems to be clamoring for but we are to scared to use because of a few movies and an episode of McGiver.

Re:Fixing what isn't broken (1)

ralph1 (900228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983288)

That sounds alot like evolution that cant happen.

Re:Fixing what isn't broken (2, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983510)

Ok, lets say the world is warming up. Is that bad? Seriously, is that really bad?

Probably - humans have adapted their settlements to the areas they live in. Change in their environments means that their agriculture and housing won't be suited anymore.

E.g. lots of people live in coastal areas, if the sea level rises (which is relatively likely) that means they'll lose their houses and land. On the other hand inland areas which are dry could become even drier - people there might not be able to grow food anymore.

Of course, earth may well stabilize itself in a few thousand years, and humans as a species might survice that, too. (Why not - we survived the ice age, after all.) However the economic and humanitarian costs of such an adjustment would be gigantic. It would seem to make sense to come up with strategies to avoid this scenario in the first place. There is really no need to put that much CO2 into the atmosphere.

Carbon sequestration prize (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982918)

Here, I've asked for folks interested in competeing for the $25 million prize to get in touch 62344 [] . I'd be interested in structuring this in a manner similar to open source development. The basic idea is to use ocean seeding to build new fisheries, thus turning a profit and making the carbon sequestration economically viable.

Global Warning (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982932)

No one disputes Global Warming.
We can see that it has occurred in the past and is occurring now.
What is in dispute is cause and cure, if any.
These cycles have taken place long before we had ANY impact on the planet.
*shudder* I can only imagine the swings once we start "tweaking" the cycles! */shudder*

No one disputes Global Warming - anymore, maybe (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983198)

Less than 15 years ago, Rush Limbaugh was declaring that NASA was able to build satellites that could detect the influence of the full moon on temperature, but that they hadn't yet been able to detect global warming. Although one might be tempted to, it's not fair to call Rush "no one".

A Patriotic Solution: Nuclear Winter (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982936)

from delivering high-quality U.S.A. manufactured WMDs to Iran [] courtesy of
the world's most dangerous person [] .

Patriotically as always,
Kilgore Trout, C.E.O. .

Halt! (1, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982950)

We are going to make massive changes, spend trillions (US word) of dollars, make some irreversable decisions on ideas based upon an idea whose roots are based more in economic-geopolitical warfare than actual science.

When the hard core scienetists do not agree (and anyone saying there is consensus for man-caused global climate change (warming or cooloing) and there is no need to listen to the other side, are not only wrong, but their motives must be seriously examined), and we are looking at this in a highly emotional state, nearing hysteria, or religios ferver it's time to step back from the jumping off point and realize that we are being led, like lemmings or children by the pipers of anti-capitalism and population control.

Does anyone find it suspicious that the proponents of this man-caused point of view fly around exhaust belching planes and drive in caravans of SUV's, playing the "carbon neutral" carbon-credit shell game (3 card monte, really), to preach this idea when they could just teleconference in, and lead by example? Can't the inventor of the Internet show up to all his conferences by way of video and never travel? Wouldn't that be more beneficial? Wouldn't that show the world it is possible to globally telecommute? Saving the planet starts with you, Al?

Al doesn't believe it himself. It's not enough of a priority for Arianna. No, it's a means to a socio-political ends, nothing more. And the public is being hoodwinked.

Re:Halt! (0, Flamebait)

waif69 (322360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983280)

More real climatologists are popping up and stating that the concept of man-made global warming isn't real. The real issue is the rest of the world wants to punish the US and have them pay some sort of UN tax. In the 1970's the press reported stories that the planet was cooling and we needed to change how and what we do in industry and how people consume to alter global weather. Either the attempt to change the global weather from the 1970's caused the global warming and the environazi's were very wrong then or they are wrong now or they are just plain wrong and want to blame everything on mankind and want to deal with their guilt for being rich or successful or something.

No consensus? (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983312)

anyone saying there is consensus for man-caused global climate change (warming or cooloing)

Do you think there is not consensus amongst climatologists? Can you name one climatologist who still disputes this? (A climate scientist with a Ph.D., that is.) Just one, but keep in mind that the people you're probably thinking of have recently written articles that suggest they do not dispute that basic fact. (Lindzen [] , in fact, recently wonders why anyone thinks that it was ever "contested". His words: "At some level, it has never been widely contested.")

frost p1st (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982952)

Stop Breathing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982988)

if those of you who honestly believe that human induced global warming is a reality would merely hold your breath for 10 seconds each day.....that would save the atmosphere TONS of CO2

Re:Stop Breathing (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983324)

Sadly, there are ppl like yourself that will believe that this will work. That is why there are still some who think that Global warming is not occurring and maybe about 10-20% who actually think that man does not contribute.

"Geo engineering" (3, Insightful)

hackus (159037) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982996)

Leave the planet alone please.

We know WAY too little about the planet to start screwing around with its Biosphere.

Not only that, but you do not get a second chance if you screw it up.

I say we start someplace else and experiment there, so if we do screw it up, no biggy.

Even the dumbest WINDOZE admin knows you always experiment on a TEST server before doing anything to your production server if you do not want downtime.

"Downtime" in this case would mean the Earths Biosphere.....I hope I do not have to explain what that means.

Besides, if we experiment with a different world, the WORST that can happen is it doesn't work.

Best possible thing that can happen is we get another planet to live on.

Half the people on this planet belong on Mars anyway....IMHO. :-)


No, the cat does not "got my tongue." (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983000)

[Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Sarcastic Nobody's Listening Mode] Stop. Don't do it. Accidently inducing an ice age will kill billions of people.[/sarcasm]

How about changing inclination or hey its orbit?? (1, Troll)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983008)

I'm pretty much sick and tired of all this UN global warming FUD
and so here we are stuck with yet another debate on bad science,
bought science and science with an agenda and then we'll move
on to what science as an organized religion has in common with
say catholicism and clamor for the excommunication of the
heretics who dare question the holy doctrines.

Oh and I'm not done ranting yet either... (3, Insightful)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983058)

I mean look at this, here someone is thinking of mucking around with the
planet far worse than people driving in their cars and cows passing gas,
like dumping million of tons of sulfur into the atmosphere
or painting large parts of the planet white or shading the planet from the
sun from orbit ...

believe me whoever comes up with these halfbaked (
ideas has no clue what could happen.

Before we do something stupid... (1)

GVIrish (1043838) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983086)

I hope they put a LOT of research and consideration into basically terraforming Earth. The law of unintended consequences could cause more devastation on a shorter scale than global warming could. Just the idea of seeding the ocean with iron could have the unintended consequence of algal blooms that could wreak havoc on marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs. Tread carefully gentlemen.

As Scientists, we had better be right (5, Insightful)

finarfinjge (612748) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983124)

This article and the one earlier, concerning the causitive nature of cosmic rays on climate should be read together. Many of the readers here are scientists, engineers (applied scientists) or at least capable of a fundemental understanding of science. To those people I say: If you are a proponent of man influenced climate change, you had better be right. This issue has now progressed to the point where the majority of people on the planet believe that there is no scientific doubt whatsoever about human influence and more precisely carbon dioxide. If this is wrong, if humans are not influencing climate or if that influence has nothing to do with carbon dioxide, science will be at fault and science will (rightly) lose credibility.

This means that arguments against intelligient design will now have to show how the "certainty" about evolution is any different from the "certainty" about global warming. Similar issues will come up in arguments for vaccination and other issues where real deaths could follow. Arguments will come up about funding levels at universities and research institutes. Arguments will come up against new initiatives for reducing pollution.

There are a large number of interest groups out there that are waiting with increasing anticipation that this issue will blow up in the face of the global warming proponents. A large number of the rest of us will get hit by the shrapnel of that explosion. As an engineer and consultant who gets a great deal of work and money out of efforts to curb green house gasses, I personally love the hype. As a believer in the importance of science in all of our lives, I am now getting very nervous about the future reputation of science.


What's so bad? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983132)

"Let's reduce our emissions now, before I have to go and paint my roof bright white."

If you do it now anyway, your air conditioning bill in the summer will be lower. And depending on how you get your electricity, painting your roof white would, in fact, reduce emissions.

Why the bias in favor of strict controls over individual actions?

It's simple (1)

DeeVeeAnt (1002953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983174)

Personally I favour the solution which is currently being pursued by the world's wisest leaders. Carry on completely as normal with our eyes wide shut and our feet firmly on the gas. Within the next 50-100 years, the seas should have risen sufficiently to wipe out the majority of the factories and cars which mostly reside just above the current sea level. CO2 emissions will rapidly fall and the larger ocean surface will reflect more of the incident sunlight. Problem solved ;D

warming (1)

ralph1 (900228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983212)

bizarre idea of painting the ground white to reflect more light. Let's reduce our emissions now, before I have to go and paint my roof bright white." Not so bizarre just like snow on the grown it will work and kind of ez to do but should be last choice.

The biological carbon sink idea is a bad one (3, Insightful)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983226)

If you go into the middle of the rain forest, and dig down a couple of feet you hit sand. You would think that if trees were removing all this carbon from the atmosphere the layer would be a 100 feet deep. What happens is the wood rots and releases most of the carbon as CO2 and methane.

I would say that most of the carbon 'sinking' is done by algae that dies and falls to the bottom of the ocean, where it is cold and oxygen is limited. We don't know though if we fertilize the ocean that the algae will end up in the right spot, or just find its way to an area where the carbon would return to the atmosphere.

Cloud-generating barges (3, Interesting)

ericdujardin (623023) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983228)

There's a simple way to reflect the Sun's light: clouds. So how about putting a large number of barges in the sea: their bottom would be reflective and insulated, they would hold a small depth of water inside, so that the Sun's rays would be used 100% to produce clouds instead of heating the ocean, and the extra clouds would reflect the Sun's rays, and if we're smart enough, some desert areas would get some rain.

I have an idea! Modify the plants! (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983278)

Since the earth is green from orbit due to plants, I got dibs on genetically engineering grass so that it is white! That, and tree leaves too. I'll be rich and famous!

Huge potential for screwup (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983316)

The HUGE potential for screwing this up reminds me of something from one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books...

One guy got himself totally plastered, so they went to fetch some super-strong coffee. But they gave him too much, and he went over the edge. So they had to get more alcohol to bring him back to the right level.

The planet is auto-correcting the mistakes we make, at its own pace. We need to make fewer mistakes, rather than try to push the planet to make faster corrections. If you don't screw up, you don't need to fix it.


In our times... (1)

toolz (2119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983374)

...they used to call it terraforming [] .

They renamed it when it stopped being Star Trek and started becoming real life.

Stop trying to fix the problem! (3, Insightful)

Autonomous Crowhard (205058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983388)

The key is to stop adding to the problem. The planet will level things out over time if we give it a chance. If we actively try to fix the problem we'll be facing an ice age in a few centuries.

Yes, I said centuries. Look how quickly we started the whole global warming mess. I think we can reverse it even faster, but I doubt we're good enough to decelerate it and bring things bad to where they belong.

Control Chaos? (4, Insightful)

thethibs (882667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983390)

The problem with this and all the other dingbat proposals is that climate is of its essence chaotic; there's no way to predict what any particular action will end up doing. That's why past climate models have been so far off the mark (of course, the next one will be bang-on!). That's how it is with dynamic systems: Even God can't predict climate, and humans certainly can't control it.

When we can control the flow of water down a mountain with a little push here and a nudge there instead of digging a ditch, we might be ready to start thinking about controlling climate.

Having read the article....let's review, shall we? (1, Insightful)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983402)

1. Pumping sulphur into the atmosphere. Injecting millions of tonnes of sulphur into the upper atmosphere would reflect 1% of sunlight back into space to keep the Earth cool, an idea proposed by Nobel-Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen. On the downside, it would increase acid rain and might cause respiratory problems, too.

and Earth will smell like egg-farting ass....NEXT!!!

2. Trillions of little sunshades in space (pictured). More like lenses than shades, these would bend sunlight away from Earth, reducing the light hitting the planet by about 2%. Although the shades would be simple and lightweight, it would still cost trillions of dollars to build and launch so many of them, according to astronomer Roger Angel of the University of Arizona, who is championing the idea.

and, if we put enough small objects in orbit, we won't be able to orbit anything else for fear of impact....NEXT!!!

3. A giant orbiting dust cloud. Vast quantities of dust obtained by vaporising a comet - or collecting lunar dust - could be injected into an orbit similar to the Moon's. The dust cloud would eclipse the Sun for several hours each month, cutting the total amount of sunlight reaching Earth per month by more than 1%, according to a proposal by astronomer Curtis Struck of Iowa State University. On the downside, the particles making up the cloud would eventually spiral towards Earth in huge numbers, hitting and possibly destroying satellites.

Wasn't this one of the plot elements in the MATRIX? and hey, why stop at tweaking our own planet's eco-system when we can tweak the entire solar system....NEXT!!!

4. Painting the ground white. We could cover roads, oceans, deserts or other surfaces with reflective material, thereby increasing the amount of sunlight reflected back into space. On the downside, changing the amount of solar energy absorbed by the ground or oceans could have unanticipated effects on the weather.

Reminds me of THX1138. Oh and, I did an experiment in elementary school where we had shoe-boxes that were painted different colors on the inside with glass tops and thermometers inside. We left them out in the sun and, guess what? THEY ALL REACHED ABOUT THE SAME TEMPERATURE!!!...yes, the dark ones may have heated up faster, but they all peaked about the same....NEXT!!!

I sure hope this is just a science-fluff Omni Magazine.

Democratization of Climate Change Science (4, Informative)

HoneyBeeSpace (724189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983440)

The EdGCM [] project has wrapped a NASA global climate model (GCM) in a GUI (OS X and Win). Our goal is to 'democratize' climate change science by allowing anyone to run a global climate model. If you can attach some numbers to these geo-engineering techniques you can study their effects yourself.

For example, to simulate the sun-shade, you can just turn down the sun a few percent with a checkbox and a slider!. Painting roofs would be equivalent to increasing albedo slightly, and I don't think the model would let you pump sulfur into the atmosphere (that is hard-coded, not exposed to the GUI interface), but you can change the amount of all the greenhouse gasses via the UI.

Supercomputers and advanced FORTRAN programmers are no longer necessary to run your own GCM.

Disclaimer: I'm the project developer.
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