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Geoengineering Our Climate

geoengineering climate change

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#1
caltrek

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Early on in my readings of global climate change I remember reading books and article by John Lovelock.  A basic them was the desirability of preserving natural mechanisms of the planet's ecological system.  He feared a day when those natural mechanisms that currently provide stability break down, and we are left with increasingly desperate solutions to the problems of our day.  One of those desperate solutions would be that of geoengineering.  As the article below makes clear, that could be highly problematic.  There are likely to be many unintended consequences.  there is also the issue that some forms of geoengineering might benefit one area of the planet, only to aggravate problems in another region.  In the event that discussion of such solutions continues to grow, I though it prudent to start a thread specifically dedicated to this issue as opposed to burying this article in a more general climate news and discussion type of thread.  

 

Success of this thread will depend upon interest expressed and contributions by others, as I don't expect to be citing a large number of articles on this topic in a comparatively short amount of time.

 

Below, I have included extracts of the linked article.  I would really recommend reading the entire article as the topic is complex enough that it does not lend itself to brief summary.  The article itself is not all that long and does a good job of being both concise and salient.

 

SO YOU WANT TO GEOENGINEER THE PLANET? BEWARE THE HURRICANES

 

https://www.wired.co...the-hurricanes/

 

Introduction:

 

 

(Wired) Scientists could release materials into the stratosphere that reflect sunlight back into space, kind of like slapping giant sunglasses on Earth. You could theoretically do this with giant space mirrors, but that would require a mountain of R&D and money and materials. More likely, scientists might be able to steal a strategy from Earth itself. When volcanoes erupt, they spew sulfur high in the sky, where the gas turns into an aerosol that blocks sunlight. If scientists added sulfur to the stratosphere manually, that could reflect light away from Earth and help humanity reach its climate goals.

 

It's not that simple, though: The massive Tambora eruption of 1815 cooled the Earth so much that Europe suffered the “year without summer,” leading to extreme food shortages. And in a study published today in the journal Nature, researchers examine a bunch of other ways a blast of sulfur could do more harm than good.

 

Specifically, the group looked at how sulfur seeding could impact storms in the North Atlantic. They built models showing what would happen if they were to inject sulfur dioxide into the lower stratosphere above either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, at a rate of 5 million metric tons per year. Sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) is not itself reflective, but up there it reacts with water, picking up oxygen molecules to become sulfate aerosol (SO4)—now that's reflective. Block out some of the sun, and you block out some of the solar energy.

 

Now, the Earth's hemispheres aren't just divided by a thick line on your globe; they're actually well-divided by what is essentially a giant updraft. That tends to keep materials like, say, sulfate aerosol, stuck in a given hemisphere. “It goes up and it goes more to the one side where you injected it,” says Simone Tilmes, who studies geoengineering at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and was not involved in the study.

 

This wall of wind gives you some measure of control. If you were to inject SO2 into the Northern Hemisphere, the models show, you would reduce storm activity in the North Atlantic—probably because the injection would put the tropical jet stream on a collision course with the Atlantic hurricane main development region. 

earth-TA.jpg

We might have to engineer our planet to survive, but the science—not to mention the geopolitical implications—is daunting.
UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/ UIG/GETTY IMAGES

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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
caltrek

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How about that.  I have already found another article on the same issue, and I wasn't even specifically looking for anything on this topic.  I guess recent study results account for the spike in news articles on this topic.

 

Artificially Cooling Planet to Combat Climate Change Risky, Study Shows

 

https://www.courthou...ky-study-shows/

 

Introduction:

 

(Courthouse News) – As nearly 200 nations continue to pursue different strategies to limit climate change under the United Nations’ Paris agreement – without U.S. involvement – new research suggests artificially cooling the planet by mimicking the effects of volcanic eruptions may do more harm than good.

 

This controversial approach to solar geoengineering – in which scientists intentionally manipulate the climate by artificially injecting aerosols into the atmosphere – could actually exacerbate global warming and trigger additional extreme weather events.

 

The findings, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, specifically highlight how injecting aerosols into one hemisphere would reduce tropical cyclone activity – responsible for phenomena like Hurricane Katrina – in one half of the world, while also spurring a range of unintended consequences in the other.

 

For example, injecting aerosols in the Northern Hemisphere would decrease the number of hurricanes in the North Atlantic. While that may seem like a good thing given the particularly devastating hurricane season in 2017, the residents of sub-Saharan Africa would pay the price with increased drought, according to the study.

 

“Our results confirm that regional solar geoengineering is a highly risky strategy which could simultaneously benefit one region to the detriment of another,” said lead author Anthony Jones, a climate science expert at the University of Exeter. “It is vital that policymakers take solar geoengineering seriously and act swiftly to install effective regulation.”

Injecting aerosols in the Southern Hemisphere, on the other hand, could potentially enhance the frequency of North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity.

 

 

 

Volcano-Clouds.jpg?resize=300%2C200


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#3
TranscendingGod

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I don't think geoengineering is a desperate solution since the very problem that we have is one of geoengineering. A problem as big as one caused by geoengineering requires a solution just as large. 


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#4
caltrek

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I don't think geoengineering is a desperate solution since the very problem that we have is one of geoengineering. A problem as big as one caused by geoengineering requires a solution just as large. 

 

Yes, but this overlooks the point made by Lovelock.  It is far more sensible to restore the environment we inherited than it is to destroy that environment, and then desperately seek to construct an alternative environment using technologies that might in themselves have unintended consequences.

 

That is not to say that your point regarding the very nature of the problem is not a good one.  Still, there is a difference between, on the one hand, neutralizing impacts of carbon dioxide build up through reductions in such emissions, and on the other hand, introducing a whole separate technological fix that may in itself be problematic.  Problematic both from a technological standpoint, as well as as from a standpoint of simple justice. 

 

At least that is the sort of argument that Lovelock was making, one toward which I am sympathetic.

 

Of course, our collective failure to act to restrain greenhouse gas emissions may force us down the road of geoengineering. In turn, that would condemn future generations to what might be an increasingly demanding role of creating an artificial environment.  An environment in which nature as we know it has died.  

 

Edit:  At any rate, thank you for your rapid response to the posting of this topic.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5
Unity

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Harvard professor David Keith worries that politicians opposed to emissions cuts will “recklessly” promote altering the atmosphere instead.

We know very little about the risks we might run if we tried to counter global warming by injecting aerosol chemicals into the atmosphere. But the limited research data we do have on so-called solar radiation management suggests that the risks are “relatively small” compared with the potential benefits of “sensible” deployment, according to one of the world’s preeminent experts on the topic.

Nevertheless, David Keith, a Harvard professor of applied physics and public policy, is worried that politicians with ulterior motives might try to accelerate the technology’s deployment.

Continued at...

https://www.technolo...rump-tweet/amp/
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#6
TranscendingGod

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I don't think geoengineering is a desperate solution since the very problem that we have is one of geoengineering. A problem as big as one caused by geoengineering requires a solution just as large. 

 

Yes, but this overlooks the point made by Lovelock.  It is far more sensible to restore the environment we inherited than it is to destroy that environment, and then desperately seek to construct an alternative environment using technologies that might in themselves have unintended consequences.

 

That is not to say that your point regarding the very nature of the problem is not a good one.  Still, there is a difference between, on the one hand, neutralizing impacts of carbon dioxide build up through reductions in such emissions, and on the other hand, introducing a whole separate technological fix that may in itself be problematic.  Problematic both from a technological standpoint, as well as as from a standpoint of simple justice. 

 

At least that is the sort of argument that Lovelock was making, one toward which I am sympathetic.

 

Of course, our collective failure to act to restrain greenhouse gas emissions may force us down the road of geoengineering. In turn, that would condemn future generations to what might be an increasingly demanding role of creating an artificial environment.  An environment in which nature as we know it has died.  

 

Edit:  At any rate, thank you for your rapid response to the posting of this topic.

 

I think the problem then is not with geoengineering but with geoengineering modifications of the "natural" ecosystem. So in other words there is no problem with geoengineering itself as long as it results in the parameters upon which people consider natural. 

 

That is another argument entirely and it is not really an argument against geoengineering itself but rather an argument against the modification of our environment in ways which deviate from the norm of the past few millennia. 


The growth of computation is doubly exponential growth. 


#7
caltrek

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I think the problem then is not with geoengineering but with geoengineering modifications of the "natural" ecosystem. So in other words there is no problem with geoengineering itself as long as it results in the parameters upon which people consider natural. 

 

That is another argument entirely and it is not really an argument against geoengineering itself but rather an argument against the modification of our environment in ways which deviate from the norm of the past few millennia. 

 

From my background in local planning and development, I am reminded of Environmental Impact Reports that are sometimes required of construction projects.  Geoengineering projects should at the very least involve addressing the issue of possible unintended consequences so that regulators and the public can make informed decisions as to whether the projects should or should not be pursued. 

 

I know that is adding an extra level of governmental review, but given what is at stake, I think it is a reasonable precaution.  

 

 

@ Unity, 

 

Thank you for your thoughtful contribution and interesting citation.


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#8
PhoenixRu

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When i studied history in the middle school, our teacher explained us the difference between "technically possible" and "socially possible".

 

Not sure about technical part, but what described in startpost is clearly socially impossible. Not before than most of the world will be united politically or all the countries will agree about common goals. I leave it to you to decide how likely it is. Other scenario that one of great powers will do it independently, ignoring all the others (yes, i mean USA). Other than that, there are possible tweaks on local level, but this is not geoingeneering.

 

PS about common goals. I'm not "global warming denier" or whatever you guys call it. But i fail to understand why and for what reason Russia should struggle against global warming? This would be the madness of national scale. Global warming will bring us much more benehits than harm. And if it will also damage our enemies... well, just another benefit. Of course, this will be a human tragedy and so on and so forth. And i agree, we shouldn't be egoists and should care about others. But NO MORE than those others care about Russia. That is...


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"And the Russian land, let God keep it! Under heavens, there is no other land like this. And although Russian nobles are not righteous neither kind, let God arrange the Russian land and give us enough justice" - Afanasy Nikitin, medieval traveler of XV century.


#9
Unity

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^It will lead to Russian instability because starving refugees will flood your borders

#10
PhoenixRu

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It will lead to Russian instability because starving refugees will flood your borders

 

But why would they rush into such a cold and gloomy, terribly backward, totalitarian country with collapsing economy? No, the vast majority of them (tens and perhaps even hundreds of millions) will rush into rich and hospitable Europe. And i - or, rather, the next generation(s) of Russians - will sit with popcorn on safe distance from all these horrors and thank the Western propagandist machine for their long and costly, but eventually successful efforts to save my Homeland.


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"And the Russian land, let God keep it! Under heavens, there is no other land like this. And although Russian nobles are not righteous neither kind, let God arrange the Russian land and give us enough justice" - Afanasy Nikitin, medieval traveler of XV century.


#11
Unity

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If your argument is that climate change will be great for Russia (supposedly for the economy and climate) then they will go there for those reasons. You can't have your cake and eat it too
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#12
Yuli Ban

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It will lead to Russian instability because starving refugees will flood your borders

 

But why would they rush into such a cold and gloomy, terribly backward, totalitarian country with collapsing economy? No, the vast majority of them (tens and perhaps even hundreds of millions) will rush into rich and hospitable Europe. And i - or, rather, the next generation(s) of Russians - will sit with popcorn on safe distance from all these horrors and thank the Western propagandist machine for their long and costly, but eventually successful efforts to save my Homeland.

 

Because it won't be cold and gloomy if it's as warm as Central Asia (save the shorter days), and it won't have a collapsing economy if people can get to whatever's locked beneath Siberia. 

Thing is, you'll be in direct competition with Canada and Greenland, and there's no doubt that China will be looking north if they feel the South has become too inhospitable. A warmer northeast Asia would basically be the new Western Europe.


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#13
caltrek

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In addition to Yuli Ban's and Unity's well taken comments, there is also the question of universal environmental degradation.  Such things as the loss of species diversification, the greater spread of communicable diseases, greater social instability resulting in destructive wars in which everybody is a net loser, etc.  So it is not such a simple matter as   "global warming will bring us much more benefits than harm."  

 

Even the thawing of permafrost has ecological consequences that are not all positive.  So Siberia might not turn into the paradise one is expecting.  

 

What Russia does benefit from is skepticism about the extent of these problems.  The easier to continue to export petroleum products at relatively high prices.  This is also one reason why the United States drags it's feet on this issue.  What good are having huge coal deposits and petroleum reserves that result from new fracking technologies if nobody wants to buy those materials or the products* that can be refined from those materials? 

 

So, it would not surprise me if the Russian language media is not giving a full consideration to the negatives of global warming.

 

 

*Presumably, fertilizers might still be an exception.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#14
PhoenixRu

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...then they will go there for those reasons

 

Because it won't be cold and gloomy if...

 

Strange, it seems you're all missed the point. The "cold and gloomy, terribly backward, totalitarian country with collapsing economy" wasn't the description of real country, it was about popular perception of Russia, created by media. It WILL NOT change no matter how warm or rich or happy Russia will become in reality.

 

Reminded me one story i've read in one old book. Somewhere in Africa, the captain of the Soviet ship talking with local port worker:

Captain: "So, what do you think about us now? Would you like to visit USSR?"

African: "No, no, no!"

Captain: "But why, mate?"

African: "You have no freedom..."

Captain: "What? Freedom? You're living in slums, wearing loincloth, working 12 hours per day for pennies to feed your 10 children... what freedom you're talking about?"

African: "Yes, you have no freedom, i know!"

 

So, yes, as long as majority of those future refugees, being "educated" by international media, will "know" that Russia is "cold, poor, gloomy, no freedom at all" while Europe is "rich, full of silly weak men and easily accessible women" - i can feel safe.

 

===

 

Just as example: western perception of Russia in 19th entury:

 

Spoiler

 

in 20th century:

 

Spoiler

 

in 21th century:

 

Spoiler

 

Let me guess, in 22nd century, if western world will survive, it will still be the same octopus...


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"And the Russian land, let God keep it! Under heavens, there is no other land like this. And although Russian nobles are not righteous neither kind, let God arrange the Russian land and give us enough justice" - Afanasy Nikitin, medieval traveler of XV century.


#15
joe00uk

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To be honest though, I don't think the perception of Russia is as negative in the Third World. In fact, it's much more often positive.


"The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains." - Karl Marx
"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentleso temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."  - Mao Zedong


#16
Yuli Ban

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You missed my point as well. When everyone else is trying to flock to Russia just to not die from extreme weather, they'll conveniently forget any such octopodes existed since they're now trying to claim that land as their own. Like how people who live in countries hostile to the US suddenly become patriots if they were to emigrate to the States, even if they are still silently hostile.

And Northeast Asia will become the land of wars of attrition.


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#17
Unity

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I think David Deutsch make some excellent points about global warming in this TED Talk:

https://www.ted.com/..._cosmos/up-next

Please watch the whole thing but he basically points out that problems are inevitable and problems are soluble and we should focus on the solutions that are cost-efficient and help us to live in a warmer world or one in which we cool the Earth rather than are focusing on avoiding the problem in the first place

#18
wjfox

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Geo-Engineering Is Not the Climate Change Solution, Study Shows

https://www.truthdig...research-shows/
 


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#19
Unity

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I really can't say enough about how much I think the future of geoengineering is in synthetic organisms engineered to sequester carbon

https://www.technolo...-the-earth/amp/

Haven't seen an idea better than this
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#20
Jakob

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I really can't say enough about how much I think the future of geoengineering is in synthetic organisms engineered to sequester carbon

https://www.technolo...-the-earth/amp/

Haven't seen an idea better than this

Not to mention we can sell captured carbon and use it to make useful stuff like plastic.


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