January 28, 2009
Climate Engineering Options Compared

Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia, UK has released a comparison of methods for climate engineering to cool the planet.

Lenton's calculations show the only methods powerful enough to have a significant effect in the relatively short term (in the second half of this century) involve placing physical barriers between Earth and the Sun. This would involve either orbiting space mirrors, stratospheric mists of sulphur, or using seawater to make reflective clouds.

But Lenton warns that these options also carry the most risk. A sulphur sunshade could reduce radiative forcing by 3.7 W/m2, but would have to be continually replenished. If it was allowed to disappear, temperatures could shoot up by as much as 5 °C within decades (Climatic Change, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-008-9490-1).

I see the ability to quickly decrease the sunshade as a feature, not a defect. If we use satellites then even a partial collapse of civilization wouldn't prevent a single country from maintaining control of already launched satellites. Also, the costs of silicon dioxide for cooling are so low that we'd need to experience a total civilizational collapse (in which case most of us will die anyway) to lose the ability to keep releasing it.

Another recent research report throws doubt on the efficacy of ocean iron fertilization for atmospheric CO2 removal. Attempts to conduct iron fertilization research run into political opposition.

We aren't going to melt Antarctica and Greenland because if the melting becomes a big problem we can just cool the planet with climate engineering.

Still, I think we should stop building coal electric plants and start building nuclear power plants instead just to cut emissions of particulates, mercury, and oxides of sulfur among other pollutants. Also, when the planet starts cooling for the next ice age we might want to have all that coal available to burn for CO2 when we really could benefit from the CO2. Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors might be the ticket.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 January 28 10:55 PM  Climate Engineering

Fat Man said at January 29, 2009 9:39 AM:

Everything is covered with ice and snow in my frozen hell. I want Global Warming and I want it NOW!

John Moore said at January 29, 2009 7:34 PM:

Hansen is the leading proponent of Global WarmingClimate Change hysteria.

His boss just retired and says climate change science is bunk and explains why. His attacks on certain scientists (not named) are clearly aimed at Hansen.

He is one in a long string of scientists who, as soon as they can safely speak out, condemn climate change alarmism.

Garson O'Toole said at January 31, 2009 2:08 AM:

A group of Marine Scientists just released the “Monaco Declaration” that claims increasing acidity in the ocean is interfering with the growth and health of shellfish and eating away at coral reefs. The New York Times coverage is titled ”Rising Acidity Is Threatening Food Web of Oceans, Science Panel Says”.

An increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (and hence the ocean) is cited as the culprit in the document, and the scientists call for “urgent action” to sharply reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. If this is a problem then some of the climate engineering techniques mentioned in the New Scientist article will not be adequate.

Measures aimed only at “radiative forcing” that do not modify CO2 levels will not halt coral bleaching and other marine effects. “Space mirrors in orbit around the planet” and “clouds of sulphur particles in the atmosphere” do not change the CO2 level. On the other hand “turning agricultural waste into charcoal and burying it” and “planting vast forests” can potentially change the CO2 level.

Jack Olson said at January 31, 2009 9:26 AM:

Past efforts at geoengineering have had some terrible results. The Aswan Dam has disturbed the natural flow of the Nile, thus encouraging erosion of the Nile Delta and the spread of water-borne disease and depriving the soil of nutrients. Even worse, the Soviet diversion of so much water from the rivers that feed it has destroyed the Aral Sea. Geoengineering can work, as in the case of the reclamation of so much land from the sea by the Netherlands, but it's risky unless you can predict all the results of a project.

Lark said at January 31, 2009 10:45 AM:

"Geoengineering can work, as in the case of the reclamation of so much land from the sea by the Netherlands, but it's risky unless you can predict all the results of a project."

1.) We can't predict everything that will happen if we do nothing, so clearly we'd better not do nothing.

2.) The people involved with the largest geoengineering project - Kyoto - seem to be considerably worse at predicting than anybody else, so whatever projects we choose, let's not let those folks run them.

GrannyJ said at January 31, 2009 11:37 AM:

I note that nobody has suggested bombing (or nuking) a few potential volcanoes...

James Mayeau said at January 31, 2009 4:40 PM:

From Garson O'Tool's NYTimes story on ocean acidification,

"“Severe damages are imminent,” the group said Friday in a statement summing up its deliberations at a symposium in Monaco last October."

Global warming scares are always imminent.

"“ocean acidification may render most regions chemically inhospitable to coral reefs by 2050.”"

And always 50 years away.

JD said at February 1, 2009 12:25 AM:

Question. If co2 levels cause such catastrophic acidity in the ocean which endangers coral etc. then how did the little buggers ever evolve since almost all of earth's history has had extremely higher levels of that dastardly co2.

James Mayeau said at February 1, 2009 4:44 AM:

I'll try.

Corals have a skin that protects them from being desolved, plus corals are composite beings, part plant and part animal. The plant part of coral thrives on co2.

People like the authors of that New York Times story are bald liars. In fact any story about the "harmful" ocean acidification is meant to deceive the ignorant.
That's why these types of stories are in declairation form rather then in scientific studies. Also you notice it doesn't have an author to take credit, or in this case blaim. One hundred and fifty five scientist from 26 countries and other international groups, is just cowards hiding their identity. Take for instance how they make a big deal of acid rising 30% since the 17th century. What they don't say is that co2 solution in water is temperature dependant, so that as the oceans heat up co2 will be released. Saying the ocean is more acidic then back in the 17th century is about the same as saying the world has gotten warmer since the little ice age.
Here's a little tid bit for you from a real ocean scientist, Dr J Floor Anthoni. http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid.htm#intro
"The most important limiting factor in aquatic ecosystem is the dearth of hydrogen ions (H+). That is to say the more alkaline the ocean is the lower biological productivity becomes. Plants need co2 in the ocean just like they need it on land. In the sea this is borne out by the observed fact that highly productive upwelling areas are more acidic. In other words, acidic seas are a good thing."

Vangel said at February 2, 2009 7:34 AM:

First, the ocean is not acidic and cannot become acidic from man's addition of CO2 into the atmosphere. After all, most of the CO2 that is added to the atmosphere during warming periods comes from CO2 that can no longer stay dissolved in the warmer water and coral evolved when CO2 concentrations were much higher than they are now.

Second, the shorter term measurements shows that when man's emissions exploded after WWII we had a three decade cooling, which makes it hard to argue that CO2 is a primary driver of climate change. On the other hand, the ice core studies show that temperature changes have driven CO2 levels in the past, not the other way around.

Third, the predicted signature from CO2 emissions, which is described in Section 9 of the IPCC report, is missing from the mid-tropospheric satellite measurments.

Forth, the instrumental data showed that of the ten warmest years in the last century, four were in the 1930s while only three were in the hyped up 1990s. Add to that the fact that we have not seen any actual warming since 1998 and the AGW folks should be seen as blatant frauds.

MILAN MITIC said at December 28, 2009 2:57 PM:




Erosion trigger channel + huge tides = huge erosion of land tidal channels = low cost excavation with erosion = land desalination = more clouds = more rain = cooler climate = huge carbon sink

Ask the farmer that got trouble with erosion because of rain

what erosion would huge 12m tides do.

Ask the scientist how big will evaporation be in bone - dry scorching hot desert if tidal system of canal and channels is made by erosion assisted excavation.

1. evaporation from saline tidal water, canals, channels, tidal lakes, tidal marshes
2. transpiration from mangroves and other sea water tolerating plants
3. transpiration from rain forest around, ( tidal evaporation 1 and 2 = more rain = rainforest 3)

Ask the engineer if it can be done.

Ak the economist would project be economical
if less: cyclones,floods, droughts, bushfires,

more hydro energy

Greener deserts and more clouds, cooler climate,
more water in rivers lakes and soil

for more see: http://www.royalcommission.vic.gov.au/Submissions/SubmissionDocuments/SUBM-002-010-0001_R.pdf


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