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Earth Science

Climate Scientist Pioneer Talks About the Furture of Geoengineering 140

First time accepted submitter merbs writes At the first major climate engineering conference, Stanford climatologist Ken Caldeira explains how and why we might come to live on a geoengineered planet, how the field is rapidly growing (and why that's dangerous), and what the odds are that humans will try to hijack the Earth's thermostat. From the article: "For years, Dr. Ken Caldeira's interest in planet hacking made him a curious outlier in his field. A highly respected atmospheric scientist, he also describes himself as a 'reluctant advocate' of researching solar geoengineering—that is, large-scale efforts to artificially manage the amount of sunlight entering the atmosphere, in order to cool off the globe."
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Climate Scientist Pioneer Talks About the Furture of Geoengineering

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  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @02:14PM (#47758799) Journal

    Well bad news, we've been fucking with it heavily for a couple hundred years with no plan whatsoever, and we're still mostly acting like it's no big deal.

  • by deathcloset ( 626704 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @02:15PM (#47758805) Journal
    Humans must control the environment, it's just what we do. To quote the late, great Jacob Bronowski, man is, “...not a figure in a landscape, but the shaper of the landscape.” We've already affected the planet - just look at the deforestation in the Amazon (the jungle) from satellite images - it's impossible to ignore, even from space. If your face looked like the Amazon looks right now you would go see a doctor. How could this not be inevitable? First we sow the fields, next we sow the planets.
  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @02:24PM (#47758927) Journal

    It does nothing to address global warming's ugly twin brother, ocean acidification. And by presenting the world's public with an apparent techno-fix, it could deflate the movement to reduce carbon emissions.

    "For me, my main concern is that we would start doing solar geoengineering while we're still building things with smokestacks and tailpipes," he tells me. "And in that framing, I think the solar geoengineering is just facilitating continued greenhouse gas emissions."

    Very well, as long as you know. No point having a nicer climate for a little while as we set the stage for an oceanic mass extinction.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @02:26PM (#47758951) Homepage Journal

    What we have to do is fairly simple.

    1. Stop using fossil fuel. Fairly easy to do this, just end all tax exemptions and artificial subsidies for coal oil and gas. All of them. Then start phasing in retrofits of existing coal plants to use cogeneration (waste heat) and cut coal use in half. Use oil for lubricants. Cut jet fuel use in half using 787s (half fuel use) and turboprops (even less fuel use). Use high speed trains and then battery EV trucks fed by local wind/solar storage for short runs. We know we can do this, we just subsidize the old 18th century methods.

    2. Cut energy use in heating/cooling buildings. Efficiency. There's most of your energy use. Passive solar design, put solar cells on roofs, use shades and ceiling fans. We know how to do this and have for half a century. Just expire tax subsidies and exemptions for buildings that don't do this, phasing them out 10 percent a year.

    3. There is no 3. It's that fracking simple.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @02:34PM (#47759029) Homepage
    Warmer nations, particularly smaller island nations furiously trying to create global cooling, while an alliance of Canada, Russia, Scandinavia and the newly created United Federation of Antarctica desperately trying to keep it nice and toasty.
  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @03:07PM (#47759379) Homepage


    You keep using that word. I don't think that word means what you think it means.

  • by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @06:38PM (#47761013) Homepage Journal

    What this means is even if we find some means of restoration that is 100 times as potent at cooling the planet as CO2 is in warming it, the task is incomprehensibly huge.

    No. No it isn't. There's a few individuals who could personally afford to send us back into an ice age. Just to give a couple examples,

    According to estimates by the Council on Foreign Relations, "one kilogram of well placed sulfur in the stratosphere would roughly offset the warming effect of several hundred thousand kilograms of carbon dioxide."

    Recent research has expanded this constant to "106 C: 16 N: 1 P: .001 Fe" signifying that in iron deficient conditions each atom of iron can fix 106,000 atoms of carbon,[34] or on a mass basis, each kilogram of iron can fix 83,000 kg of carbon dioxide.

    But they have side effects. And perhaps they have side effects that won't become apparent until we try them on a large scale.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.