January 15, 2007


Dr Strangelove saves the earth: How big science might fix climate change (Economist.com, Jan 15th 2007)

[The] gloomy outlook has encouraged new interest in a technological fix. A scientific journal, Climatic Change, published a series of papers on the subject in August, including one by Paul Crutzen, a Nobel-prize-winning atmospheric chemist. Other journals followed up. In November the Carnegie Institution and NASA held a conference.

Many big ideas for global cooling have been suggested over the years. They include seeding the skies with compounds to encourage the formation of low-lying, cooling clouds; building a giant sun-shade in space; and dumping iron in the oceans to encourage the growth of algae that would take in carbon when alive and trap it in on the sea floor when dead.

Ken Caldeira, a scientist at the Carnegie Institution, says the most promising idea may be to spray tiny sulphate particles into the upper atmosphere, where they will reflect incoming sunlight. Nature has already done the proof-of-concept work: volcanic eruptions spew such particles into the air, and the cooling effect is well documented.

Schemes of this kind may sound half-crazy; and, admittedly, they do tend to have some technical and aesthetic complications. Deliberately polluting the stratosphere would make the sky less blue, although sunsets would probably be prettier. Blocking out the sun might keep the planet cool, but it would do little to address other effects of high carbon-dioxide levels, such as the acidification of the oceans.
Deliberately polluting the stratosphere would make the sky less blue, but sunsets would probably be prettier

A more fundamental objection is that the models used in geo-engineering are similar to those used in forecasting climate change. Which is to say, they rely similarly on assumptions and extrapolations.

So if you're ready to act on their forecasts even the enviros admit they're totally bogus?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 15, 2007 11:06 AM

Careful whatcha wish for...

Posted by: M. Murcek at January 15, 2007 11:54 AM

Whatever happened to nuclear winter?

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at January 15, 2007 1:50 PM

We won the Cold War.

Posted by: oj at January 15, 2007 2:14 PM

Whatever happened to nuclear winter?

It came to Seattle several months ago, and has overstayed its welcome.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 15, 2007 4:08 PM