free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 217. GEOENGINEERING

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Here's a nice illustration which sums up the various techno-fixes for abrupt global warming:

The idea of providing a sunscreen for the earth by shooting dust into the statosphere was conceived by Freeman Dyson, and promoted by Edward Teller:
Edward Teller Advances Global Warming Cure

Nuclear physicist Edward Teller says that the jury is still out on whether or not greenhouse gases are leading to global warming, but that contemporary technology offers considerably cheaper options for addressing any global warming effects than politicians and environmentalists are considering.

* One approach, first proposed by theorist Freeman Dyson in 1979, would counteract any warming effect of greenhouse gases by diminishing by about 1 percent the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface.

* This could be done by deliberately introducing fine particles -- such as those thrown up naturally from volcanoes -- into the upper atmosphere to scatter sunlight and heat back into space.

* Such a solution might cost as much as $1 billion a year -- or just $100 million if technologically advanced options were employed.

* That would be between 0.1 percent and 1 percent of the $100 billion a year it is estimated would be required to price-ration fossil fuel usage down to 1990 levels in the United States alone.

Teller says that cooling caused by volcanic eruptions shows this technique would work. For exmaple, the erruption of Mexico's El Chichon in the 1980s cooled the Northern Hemisphere by about one-quarter as much as the average prediction for global warming expected by 2100.

According to Teller, the director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Coordination Office has been promoting such geoengineering for three decades, and one National Academy of Sciences report a few years ago commented on "the relatively low costs at which some of the geoengineering options might be implemented."

Teller and his colleagues presented their proposal for geoengineering at the 22nd International Seminar on Planetary Emergencies in August 1997.

Source: Edward Teller (director emeritus, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), "The Planet Needs a Sunscreen," Wall Street Journal, October 17, 1997.Source
-- by JD


At Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 9:15:00 AM PST, Blogger al fin said...

It is a good idea to be able to "tweak" the climate a bit, one way or the other. The species evolved in a tropical setting, so it is not surprising that many will move close to the tropics for retirement.

If the sun's activity slows as predicted, it should not be long before people will begin wondering how to warm things up.

At Friday, January 20, 2006 at 2:23:00 AM PST, Blogger popmonkey said...

ugh, i guess eventually we will control climate change, but this kind of irreversible committment had better not be taken seriously until the shit really hits the fan.

lets just have a nuclear war to counteract global warming and at the same time get rid of, say, china and the u.s. thus solving the peak oil problem as well...

seriously tho, climatologists are still not agreed on whether climate change is ultimately going to result in warming or cooling. right now we're seeing global warming but some scientists claim that when the breaking point happens there will be an inversion.

will the solution to such an inversion be "drive more hummers"?

At Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 2:16:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

But seriously, do we know the possible side-effects of these geoengineering efforts?

No. One method (shooting reflective dust into the stratosphere) apparently would have the side effect of turning the sky white. That is pretty benign compared to letting billions of people starve/freeze/swelter to death, but even something cosmetic like that would undoubtedly provoke a vicious policy debate.

And of course, it could be way worse than just aesthetics. Lovelock's "sick patient" metaphor is probably a good one. It's like giving the earth an untested drug, and the prognosis is likely to be very uncertain. For example, suppose these are the choices:
1) Do nothing. Billions of people will surely die.
2) Use a relatively cheap geoengineering technique which has a 70% chance of saving those people, but also has a 30% chance of making the situation worse.
What do you do?

IMO, the best earth thermostat is space mirrors because: 1) the effects can be modulated and reversed, 2) mirrors can be used to heat the earth as well as cool it.

At Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 5:36:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

Alternatively, if rapid climate change occurs and we simply can't wait 15 years for cheap space based manufacturing to begin, we could attempt a space mirror project with simple lightweight foil-like materials that unfold out of a conventional satellite sized housing, launched by conventional rockets.

That is not a theoretical idea at all. The first space mirror, Zanmya 2, was successfully deployed by Russia in 1993, over 13 years ago (see 51. SPACE MIRRORS). If necessary, we have the technology to launch space mirrors right now.

At Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 7:56:00 AM PST, Blogger al fin said...

Picture this:

A mad genius takes over a central asian country and using the Kazakhstan spaceport launches a huge space mirror. The mirror reflects all sunlight back into space except for central asia, which receives its full alotment of sun.

How long would it take the rest of the world to freeze like an ice cube? If the mad dictator could control the earth's ensolation, how long before he ruled the entire earth? Freeze the region to extinction, then colonise with your own rapidly procreating subjects.

A selective ice age. That sounds much worse than current climate change, largely driven by temporarily increased solar activity.


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