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Earth Science Technology

Could 'Re-Engineering' Earth Help Ease the Hurricane Threat? (nbcnews.com) 262

As hurricanes continue to increase in frequency and intensity, a $10-billion-a-year project proposes injecting sulfate into the atmosphere to cool down the Earth and reduce the number of hurricanes by 50% for a staggering 50 years. From a report: In an attempt to combat climate change, a multinational team of scientists are working on a plan to literally re-engineer the Earth in order to cool it down and reduce the impact of storm systems. For example, a team led by John Moore, who is the head of China's geoengineering research program, is studying how shading sulfate aerosols that are dispersed into the stratosphere could help cool the planet and reduce the number of hurricane occurrences. In an interview with Popular Mechanics, outlining how the plan works, Moore asserts, "We're basically mimicking a volcano and saying we're going to put 5 billion tons of sulfates a year into the atmosphere 20 kilometers high, and we'll do that for 50 years." In their current research model, in which the scientists tested a senario where the sulfate injection is doubled over time, the team found that incidences of Katrina-level hurricanes could be maintained (they would be kept at the same rate that we currently see) and that storm surges, which is the rise in seawater level that is caused solely by a storm, could be mitigated by half. The researchers noted that the volcanic eruption in 1912 of Katmai in Alaska "loaded the Northern Hemisphere with aerosol [sulfates], and [was] followed by the least active hurricane season on record." Moore explains that warmer waters can spark and fuel hurricanes, and cooling them with shading sulfates reduces the size and intensity of these hurricanes.
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Could 'Re-Engineering' Earth Help Ease the Hurricane Threat?

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  • Not this again! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:04PM (#55160877)

    I ain't going to be riding no train around the world forever in the snow. Fuck that!

  • LMFAO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:04PM (#55160879)

    What could possibly go wrong?!

    • What could possibly go wrong?!

      Connor MacLeod could fail to achieve a Quickening, which would allow the head of China National Shield Corporation to continue with their nefarious plans for another five decades after the Earth has cooled.

    • Re:LMFAO (Score:5, Informative)

      by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:29PM (#55161029) Homepage

      Don't build so darn near the shoreline. And don't build on former riverbeds or other lowland that's a candidate for flooding. Also keep some areas of forest and ponds to slow and absorb runoff water.

      • by haruchai ( 17472 )

        Don't build so darn near the shoreline. And don't build on former riverbeds or other lowland that's a candidate for flooding. Also keep some areas of forest and ponds to slow and absorb runoff water.

        "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker would destroy civilization"

        All I can say is the combination of that comment & that sig really made my day

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by godel_56 ( 1287256 )

        Don't build so darn near the shoreline. And don't build on former riverbeds or other lowland that's a candidate for flooding. Also keep some areas of forest and ponds to slow and absorb runoff water.

        And don't continue to breed like fucking rabbits.

        • It's the only way to be sure. (Completely re-applying the quote from __Aliens__.)
        • Re:LMFAO (Score:5, Insightful)

          by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @07:11PM (#55161871)

          And don't continue to breed like fucking rabbits.

          Huh. Are rabbits known for stable, gradually declining populations? Cuz that's what all developed countries do. There is a demographic implosion underway in many countries, Japan is leading the way with an economy that has been in a deflationary spiral for over a decade. Even Mexico is just over replacement rate with fertility rate at 2.21 (down from 7 a generation ago)

          Most developed countries have declining populations projected for the indefinite future. The US is way below replacement rate, only growth is from immigration. Your facts are dated and out of touch with reality.

          • True, but logic doesn't help with dog-whistles.

          • Most developed countries have declining populations projected for the indefinite future.

            True, but 90+% of the people in the world live in undeveloped countries, and that is highly unlikely to change.

    • Re:LMFAO (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (hmryobemag)> on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:57PM (#55161227) Journal

      It's a shame nobody asked that when people started burning fossil fuels.

    • Will Trump be the Engineer?

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      Sulphuric acid perhaps?

    • "What could go wrong" is what you ask when you face a decision of doing something or not doing something. This is a decision between "Doing something" or "Continue to do something else."

      We're already pushing buttons wildly with dumping carbon, methane, and everything else into the atmosphere. "What could possibly go wrong" with that is quite scary and balances out anything on the other side. Unless you've convinced yourself it's lies and your friends in the coal industry wouldn't let that happen.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Your on the right page.

      Biology 101 class, our Ecosystem traps about 15% of solar engery into usable bioengery. If we block it, than thats less for that 15% to trap and use for life. Therefore less possible food.

      • Biology 101 class, our Ecosystem traps about 15% of solar engery into usable bioengery.

        No way. Even under ideal conditions photosynthesis is only about 6% efficient. But conditions are almost never ideal, which sunlight falling on deserts or nutrient deprived oceans. Less that 1% of incident solar energy is captured as "bioenergy".

  • by Train0987 ( 1059246 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:07PM (#55160901)

    "As hurricanes continue to increase in frequency and intensity"

    Except they are not increasing in frequency or intensity. Slashdot should be ashamed of what it's become, click-bait for cultists.

    • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:19PM (#55160971) Journal

      Actually they do.
      There are not only Hurricanes that make landfall. There are Hurricanes in the atlantic you never hear about.
      And there are Cyclones, Taifuns etc. too.
      Get rid of the stupid idea that continental USA are the center of the world.

      It is just some 3% or 5% of the globe.

      • Typhoons you mean? Most people do not speak German.
      • It is just some 3% or 5% of the globe.

        By population you mean. The USA is about 20% of the global economy.

        http://www.aei.org/publication... [aei.org]

        MP: Overall, the US produced 22.5% of world GDP in 2014, with only about 4.6% of the worldâ(TM)s population. Three of Americaâ(TM)s states (California, Texas and New York) â" as separate countries â" would rank in the worldâ(TM)s top 14 largest economies. And one of those states â" California â" produced more than $2 trillion in economic output in 2014 â" and the other two (Texas and New York) produced more than $1.6 trillion and $1.4 trillion of GDP in 2014 respectively. The map and these statistics help remind us of the enormity of the economic powerhouse we live in. So letâ(TM)s not lose sight of how ridiculously large and powerful the US economy is, and how much wealth and prosperity is being created all the time in the worldâ(TM)s largest economic engine.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. I could probably find on YouTube plenty of news report videos, made shortly after Katrina, claiming that from that point forward, we should be expecting storms like that to occur *every* *year*.

      It finally took 12 years for something *somewhat* comparable to happen again.

      If this is what the data models were projecting back then, it scares the shit out of me whenever someone talks about geoengineering the climate, because it sounds to me like *that* has a lot more potential to make things a whole lot

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @05:07PM (#55161293) Homepage Journal

      Well, tropical cyclones actually have become both more frequent (doi:10.1038/nature07234) and intense (doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00262.1) over the past 30 years, however the 3 meter/second increase in the wind speed over the past 30 years isn't proof we're looking at AGW.

      IPCC's models are somewhat mixed as to the frequency and intensity of future cyclones. They do predict more intense precipitation during cyclones.

  • I would say no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by parkinglot777 ( 2563877 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:08PM (#55160905)

    Even if what they said works, the idea is to reduce hurricane threat. They don't think further of what other impacts on other thing else on the Earth? This is just an advertising. Not a real implementation.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:25PM (#55161009)

      We should try it out in Earth.Dev and Earth.Test first.

      • Don't forget Earth.QA and Earth.Training.

        We need to take new screenshots and rebuild the user manual, and managers need the changes to be live on the training site, with scrambled data but also real data, before orientation at 9 AM on Monday. Also, we need someone to come in 20 minutes before hand to set up the projector. And can you stay throughout the meeting just in case a technical issue comes up?

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:08PM (#55160911)

    As hurricanes continue to increase in frequency and intensity

    Say what? That we have seen an overall increase of cat4/cat5 hurricanes is very much open to debate [wunderground.com]. It's not great when you just start out by assuming that to be true.

    • by dslauson ( 914147 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:16PM (#55160955) Journal
      You:

      That we have seen an overall increase of cat4/cat5 hurricanes is very much open to debate

      Your link:

      ...it is unlikely that the large 80% increase in Category 4 and 5 hurricanes found by Webster et al. is real. There does appear to be some increase, but it is likely much smaller.

      It appears that even the author of your "dissenting" article agrees that the data shows an increase. The only debate is regarding the magnitude of the increase.

  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:11PM (#55160921)

    They just need to cover the surface of the Atlantic ocean with trillions of shade balls:

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech... [ctvnews.ca]

    That would prevent all that water evaporating into the atmosphere. Though I do wonder where the water evaporating from the reservoirs would have gone.

    • by unrtst ( 777550 )

      Holy crap. From that link, "96 million black balls" ... "10-centimetre-diameter plastic balls" ... "The 36-cent balls"...
      You mean to tell me they couldn't get a better bulk deal than 100 for $36 on 96 million 10cm plastic balls ($34.56 million total)?!?! I really hope some of those figures are wrong.

    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
      Better yet, launch thin aluminum disks into space and put them in equatorial orbits. Hurricanes can't grow if the equator is the same temperature as the temperate zones.
  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:15PM (#55160949) Homepage Journal
    Citation needed
  • by Anonymous Coward

    After years of failed weather and climate prophesies, why not take the bold leap into doing something about it? We must appease the weather gods and throwing virgins into a volcano is so old fashioned.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:21PM (#55160985)

    Until you understand the whole problem, don't fuck around with anything. The atmosphere is a complex and chaotic system, and we can't even predict the weather accurately for more than a few days (or even on the day). How about we don't start pumping more shit into the atmosphere until we have a fucking clue, huh?

    In fact, if you read the article you discover it has a lovely side-effect: the process completely destroys the ozone layer. Yay. It also means all those chemtrail nutcases are going to be very smug. Double yay.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Until you understand the whole problem, don't fuck around with anything. The atmosphere is a complex and chaotic system, and we can't even predict the weather accurately for more than a few days (or even on the day).

      Summer is hot. Winter is cold. Often we're better at this than whether it'll rain tomorrow, because the scenarios have feedback loops and they're divergent. Like if it starts raining it'll continue, if it doesn't start raining it'll stay overcast and the difference is within the error margin. Also known as the butterfly effect.

  • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:24PM (#55160995) Journal
    I just read an article by NOAA [noaa.gov] arguing the opposite of this.
  • They destroy old trees and nature for new life to grow

    • They destroy old trees and nature for new life to grow

      FTFY:

      They destroy old trailers and clean up trailer parks for new trailers to be installed

  • by es330td ( 964170 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:35PM (#55161075)

    In their current research model ... the team found that incidences of Katrina-level hurricanes could be maintained

    In 2015 there were 28 named storms. In 1887 there were 20, along with 1933. Severe storms have ranged in name from Allen (first of the year in August), Audrey (in June, also first), Carla (early but not first) to Harvey-Ike-Katrina (middle of the season) to Rita-Sandy-Wilma (late to last, Wilma in October.) We haven't the slightest clue how many hurricanes we will have each year, nor when a bad one will happen. Despite this a scientist claims that a model predicts that seeding the atmosphere with a chemical can predict the number and level of future hurricanes. I fail to see how my third grader could be less accurate guessing any of this.

  • Won't that do something to air quality in general? And wouldn't sulfates lead to acid rain? How bad will the acid rain get? Is this going to mess with ocean chemistry even more?

    --PeterM

    • Then we just dump some millions of tons of lye in the oceans to prevent the acidity.

      • The primary complainers about acid rain were fresh-water fishermen, who thought that acid rain was acidifying their favorite ponds and lakes, such as in upstate New York, and killing off the fish. There were confounding factors, however. Historically, many of those lakes were too acid for fish, due to runoff from pine forests. Farmers came in and cut down the forests, the lakes became neutral and were successfully stocked with fish. Years passed, farming became unprofitable in many areas, and the forests sl

  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:41PM (#55161101)

    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/E23.html [noaa.gov]

    Landfalling US hurricanes are trending down the last 140 years. All categories (1-4+) are trending down.

  • The problem with this solution is that it will have large scale unintended consequences and it doesn't even solve the ocean acidity problem. A far batter solution is to built a fuckload of atmospheric carbon dioxide scrubbing plants. [fastcompany.com] We have the technology, we just lack the political representatives to act to make this happen. This "Re-Engineering Earth" idea is something that you try when you have completely run out of options and we aren't there yet.

  • Like this [buzzfeed.com]?

    Goofus:
    I haven't gotten enough sleep lately; think I'll take provigil.
    I'm getting pretty sick from the provigil, think I'd better load up on antibiotics.
    I'm getting some fungus problems from the antibiotic use, think I'd better load up on the antifungals.

    Gallant:
    (takes a nap).

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @04:51PM (#55161175) Journal

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/j... [forbes.com]

    Source cited there.
    (from the article)
    The National Hurricane Center (NHC) provides information on major U.S. hurricanes during the past 100-plus years.According to the NHC, 70 major hurricanes struck the United States in the 100 years between 1911 and 2010. That is an average of 7 major hurricane strikes per decade. What are the trends within this 100-year span? Letâ(TM)s take a look.

    Letâ(TM)s split the 100-year hurricane record in half, starting with major hurricane strikes during the most recent 50 years.

    During the most recent decade, 2001-2010, 7 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is exactly the 100-year average.

    During the preceding decade, 1991-2000, 6 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is below the 100-year average.

    During the decade 1981-1990, 4 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is substantially below the 100-year average, and ties the least number of major hurricanes on record.

    During the decade 1971-1980, 4 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is substantially below the 100-year average, and ties 1981-1990 as the two decades with the least number of major hurricanes.

    During the decade 1961-1970, 7 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is exactly the 100-year average.

    Incredibly, not a single decade during the past 50 years saw an above-average number of major hurricanes â" not a single decade!

    Now letâ(TM)s look at the preceding 50 years in the hurricane record, before the alleged human-induced global warming crisis.

    During the decade 1951-1960, 9 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is above the 100-year average.

    During the decade 1941-1950, 11 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is substantially above the 100-year average.

    During the decade 1931-1940, 8 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is above the 100-year average.

    During the decade 1921-1930, 6 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is slightly below the 100-year average.

    During the decade 1911-1920, 8 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is above the 100-year average. ... During the past 5 decades, an average of 5.6 major hurricanes struck the United States.
    During the preceding 5 decades, and average of 8.4 major hurricanes struck the United States.

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/j... [forbes.com]
      The National Hurricane Center (NHC) provides information on major U.S. hurricanes during the past 100-plus years.According to the NHC, 70 major hurricanes struck the United States in the 100 years between 1911 and 2010. That is an average of 7 major hurricane strikes per decade. What are the trends within this 100-year span? Let's take a look. Let's split the 100-year hurricane record in half, starting with major hurricane strikes during the most recent 50 years.... During the preceding decade...

      Did an arts graduate write that junk Forbes article? It's ridiculous and disingenuous to try to explain a TABLE of data with ad-hoc divisions like that. We're on slashdot; we should know better. Here's a graph with trend lines since 1978:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/20... [wattsupwiththat.com]

      This trend line shows a slight decrease in hurricanes overall, but despite that a slight increase in major hurricanes. We'd have to do trend lines for the source data for the Forbes article to make sense of it.

  • First you have to convince, or at least discredit, the climate-change deniers, so that there won't be constant roadblocks to trying to do something about it.

    Seriously, aside from the Dominionists, who literally want to destroy the Earth (because they think that'll bring Jesus back) I don't understand the logic (or lack thereof) behind the deniers, and never will I guess. When you have ONE of something (the Earth) and screwing it up beyond saving means you all DIE, then why is it so damned hard to play it
    • Things that pollute the air are not good for humans in any event; so how is it not a no-brainer to do things to reduce to eliminate those sources of pollution? Seriously.

      Whether carbon dioxide is "pollution" is a question of politically-motivated definitions. However, carbon dioxide at up to a few thousand ppm is not harmful to humans or plants (in fact, it is beneficial).

      When you have ONE of something (the Earth) and screwing it up beyond saving means you all DIE, then why is it so damned hard to play it s

      • How does any of that invalidate anything I had to say?
        The things that are creating too much CO2 are also creating other noxious things that are bad to breathe. We're better off finding better replacements for them.
        Again: How does it really hurt anyone, or not make sense, to PLAY IT SAFE with the ONE PLANET we have to live on?
        I find no valid reasons not to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as we can manage it. Laziness is not a valid reason, by the way.
    • Well as someone that really isn't that sold on man made global warming mostly because of the techniques used to fill in statistical data sets. Remember they are trying to fill in gaps of information that just wasn't measured the thermometer was invented in the early 1700s and was no where near as accurate as todays thermometer. Using a world wide statistical model to predict climate change requires a lot more data than what we have actually measured. We know that the earth was much colder and much warmer in

    • A technological civilization is good for humans. Maintaining and improving it requires the expenditure of energy, which inevitably causes pollution.

      Pollution can be reduced, and it's being worked on. Screaming, like you, that We're all gonna die doesn't help make things better, it makes you look like an Al Gore fool.

      People deny the claims of anthropogenic global warming fraudsters because the case for AGW is far from proved, and the proposed "solutions" cause immense harm to freedom and human well-being.

  • obSnowpiercer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @05:01PM (#55161257)

    The hubris of this bunch is unbelievable. Faced with an ecosystem so unbelievably complex and interdependent that nobody can say with much confidence what is really going to happen down the road, they propose to massively, rapidly, and irreversibly alter a single variable in that system.

    What could possibly go wrong? [wikipedia.org]

  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @05:39PM (#55161479)

    Funny how these people don't bother to mention the lull years and how they ignore the far bigger and more disastrous hurricanes of the past. Part of the problem is they measure the hurricanes by how much damage in money that is caused but the damages are going up not due to worse hurricanes but simply because of economic inflation, population increase and people building in bad locations.

  • by doctorvo ( 5019381 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @05:44PM (#55161503)

    I wish people would actually try to push through some of these proposals to cool the earth; the resulting lawsuits over lost farm productivity and other costs would quickly put to rest the idea that warmer temperatures are harmful.

    • by Artagel ( 114272 )

      Well, at some point a supervolcano is likely to test the hypothesis for us even if we don't do it. It might be next year, it might be 1000 years from now. But when it happens, we will see.

      Nature is kinda funny like that.

    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
      Ha, you think the 1% of farmers in the country has any political power? Anything they have is a leftover from a bygone era. The only reason the AGW denialists have any backing is because of big oil, which employs enough people and stuffs enough politician pockets to matter. As long as the solution isn't cutting carbon emissions, they won't do jack shit to stop it.
  • "We don't know who struck first, us or them, but we know that it was us that scorched the sky. At the time, they were dependent on solar power and it was believed that they would be unable to survive without an energy source as abundant as the sun."

    Operation Dark Storm [wikia.com]

  • There is a super simple way to address climate change. Reduce emissions (CO2, methane, etc.). Adding sulfur in the air has severe side effects.

  • Here is a link to the actual journal article [pnas.org], rather than these popularizations. Are we geeks or not?

    The paper does not discuss the process of injecting 5 teragrams (5 million tonnes) of SO2 into the stratosphere each year but since airliners fly in the lower stratosphere, and a 747-400 can carry 100+ tonnes as payload 50,000 flights a year could do this using planes that were flying SO2 tanks. If one plane could do 10 flights a day then a fleet of only 15 planes could handle the mission.

    Don't tell the che

  • al gore may have a point about global warming and ManBearPig

  • Allow NASA to " fix " the Yellowstone Volcano threat per a recent story.

    Watch as things don't quite go as planned.

    Yellowstone does it's thing, goes all fire and brimstone and cools the entire planet off in the process. ( After cooking half the US )

    Global warming solved. Global Cooling becomes the new buzz word.

  • Has anyone put thought into how to move or disrupt a storm such as these? True, they carry a huge amount of energy, but we know exactly where it is. Would an off-center orbital kinetic bombardment have any effect beyond injecting more energy into the mess? Other ways to alter its environment?

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