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jethro

Geoengineering

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There is, of course, means of removing the threat rising sea-levels and dangerous global warming on a permanent basis by deliberately starting the next Ice Age.  Man has the resources and technology today to do this in one fell swoop and it can be done without wiping out large numbers of species or people:

I discussed in (3) (above) the "Kidnapping" and steering an asteroid into the Earth, we would need to find one somewhat larger and take up masses of hydrogen fuel with a big rocket into space, find an asteroid about 10 miles across and attach the powerful rocket to it.  With very powerful jet-engines we could steer this asteroid to hit one of the trans-antarctic mountains from the north at a speed of over 50,000 mph (angling in at about 45 degrees) at 4 pm local time in late-October.  This would do two important things on a long-term basis.

1) It would push the Earth into an orbit slightly further from the Sun so that the Solar constant is (on average) about 0.5% less.

2) It would reduce the summer tilt of the Earth from 23.5 degrees to about 20 degrees by 2100

This would reduce the strength of the Summer Sun at high latitudes and ensure that rising CO2 levels did not lead to melting ice. On the contrary the drop off in insolation near the poles would be substantial due to the Sun's rays glancing off the surface and having to pass through a greater length of atmosphere before reaching the surface, the result is likely to be increasing snow and ice in high latitudes so that more of the Sun's heat is reflected.  On the other hand winters would not be so continually dark over Siberia and northern Canada though there the winter Sun would still be so low as to make no real difference to the winter heat budget- the net effect would be a sharp negative change in the annual radiation budget at higher latitudes causing snow and ice to spread rather than decline.

The third effect would be to pulverise the trans-antarctic mountain hit and cause volcanoes that (together)would  throw up so much dust into the atmosphere globally that the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface declines by up to 5% globally over the first decade after it happens.  This is enough to cause substantial global cooling leading to big increases in snow and ice cover at higher latitudes.  By the time the dust and volcanic ash settles the weaker spring and summer sunshine at higher latitudes (caused by decreasing the Earth's tilt) would ensure the snow and ice stays- permanently as the snow/ice cover would reflect 80% of the weaker Sun's heat back into space.

Nobody, of course lives (and precious few insects) live in the Trans-antarctic mountains so the vast asteroid would not kill anyone itself.  Volcanoes are part of nature and we can get those living close to them to evacuate for a few days until we are sure that they wont erupt as a result of the asteroid collision (if this does happen, the people would be out of the way at the time).  The only real moot-point is whether we would want to cause an Ice Age to stop Global Warming once and for all.  There are a number of reasons why it might be preferable over global warming:

1) Tropical locations change little in temperature and tropical countries may have more land as the sea recedes.

2) Drought is a real threat to the tropics in an Ice Age (particularly if the tilt of the Earth is reduced lessening monsoons in so doing), but we can help them adapt with investment into water desalination units. However the Equator is likely to stay wet.  Less sticky moisture around means that many in the tropics escape the effects of bugs and water-borne diseases and slightly cooler conditions for many would be a welcome alternative to the heat.

  3) Large amounts of snow and ice at higher latitudes provide an ideal source of freshwater for higher latitudes.  Very severe winters down to -50C would kill the bugs that bring pestilence and disease for folk in northern countries.  Big greenhouses could be erected so that fresh vegetables can be grown in summer and homes could be triple-glazed so that folk can stay warm.  The snow and ice would add to the beauty of the countryside in Britain, North America and across Europe and we could have a thriving skiing/glacier-based tourist industry for all northern countries.  No-one would have to contend with floods or sticky summer heatwaves anymore as the climates would be too cold and dry for that.

4) It is true that large amounts of species would die or be displaced in an Ice Age (the same is true if Global Warming gets out of hand!).  In Britain with the North Sea and Norwegian Sea freezing over we could have wolves, reindeer and polar bears paying a visit.

5) Some northern cities could get buried in ice but extra land would become available as sea-levels dropped.  In any case cities like Newcastle and Aberdeen could prevent themselves becoming entombed in the new ice-sheets by spreading salt in vast quantities over the urban areas and using snow-clearing equipment to remove snow and ice from those areas in summer so that they are not overwhelmed the following winter (when salt would prove useless in temperatures below -40C). Northern city-dwellers would always have pristine gleaming-white countryside on their doorsteps, get in their snow-buggies and visit it in any season!  If they are adventurous they could visit the new Grampian Glacier or North Pennine ice-sheets!  Breathtaking!

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You want to fly a trillion ton asteroid into Antarctica to solve climate change?

 

:drunk-emoji:

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On 29/12/2015 at 0:28 PM, Yarmy said:

You want to fly a trillion ton asteroid into Antarctica to solve climate change?

 

:drunk-emoji:

Firstly, Happy new Year.

It is a radical suggestion and I have to say a bit tongue-in-cheek to advocate provoking the arrival of a new Ice Age to stop global warming! 

However I do think Geoenginneering should be considered seriously, and practical measures enacted for keeping the World cool as CO2 levels rise inexorably as governments around the World wring their hands because their respective electorates refuse to accept the implications of 80% emissions cuts.  The consequences in terms of severe summer heatwaves, coastal flooding and rising sea-levels of global temperatures rising more than 2C above pre-industrial averages justifies, in my view, researching into practical measures to limit global temperature increases.  It is true that there are possible side-effects but are the side-effects (overall) going to be as bad as what could happen should mean temperatures be allowed to rise too much?

Take my suggestion of allowing industries across the World to dirty the air with sulphate/aerosol pollution:  The worst that happens is that a few million people get chest ailments (for which there are remedies) and acid rain kills off some forests in Scandianavia; but we prevent killer heatwaves that make life unbearable for millions in Europe and rising sea-levels that could mean forced abandonment of the East End of London and much of East Anglia with many other countries being affected by similar displacement whilst large numbers of plants and animal species are displaced/killed off.  This is the sort of trade-off we need to look at.  Or a couple of powerful H-bombs exploded on a remote tropical island in the Pacific (after evacuating any locals) putting so much dust into the stratosphere we cool the Earth and buy time to invest in and build a carbon-neutral economy- a few animals on the said-island might die but that is as nothing as to the massive displacement/loss of species and the misery of long 30C-plus summers across northern Europe that could occur if global warming continues unchecked.

I do not downplay that there are (undoubtedly) risks with Geoengineering measures, there are bigger risks in allowing governments (fearful of their voters) to continue permitting their countries to ply the atmosphere with much more carbon-dioxide.  The COP21 event in Paris did not produce agreement to specific measures to reduce CO2 levels on the scale that will be needed, no government in the World is willingly going to impose steep tariffs on businesses and inhabitants and put their economies into recession because they would be voted out of office for good!  Helping countries to adjust to a zero-carbon economy will (therefore) take time and it will be a century or more before this is done; it means that if nothing else is done to combat global warming it will become too late to reverse the effects of dangerous global warming before we get to that point! 

I would even assert, in view of all this, that if we cannot get international agreement on implementing Geoengineering solutions, that there should be a "Coalition of the Willing" (of say, USA, Canada, Britain, Scandinavia, Germany) to go it alone and drop a few mighty H-bombs on the remote tropical island in the Pacific (or blast an Arctic mountain at noon in June with an asteroid- to reduce the tilt of the Earth and weaken the Summer Sun in the Arctic and preserve the ice-cover there) in order to arrest a dangerous change in the global climate.   

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13 hours ago, iapennell said:

Firstly, Happy new Year.

It is a radical suggestion and I have to say a bit tongue-in-cheek to advocate provoking the arrival of a new Ice Age to stop global warming! 

However I do think Geoenginneering should be considered seriously, and practical measures enacted for keeping the World cool as CO2 levels rise inexorably as governments around the World wring their hands because their respective electorates refuse to accept the implications of 80% emissions cuts.  The consequences in terms of severe summer heatwaves, coastal flooding and rising sea-levels of global temperatures rising more than 2C above pre-industrial averages justifies, in my view, researching into practical measures to limit global temperature increases.  It is true that there are possible side-effects but are the side-effects (overall) going to be as bad as what could happen should mean temperatures be allowed to rise too much?

Take my suggestion of allowing industries across the World to dirty the air with sulphate/aerosol pollution:  The worst that happens is that a few million people get chest ailments (for which there are remedies) and acid rain kills off some forests in Scandianavia; but we prevent killer heatwaves that make life unbearable for millions in Europe and rising sea-levels that could mean forced abandonment of the East End of London and much of East Anglia with many other countries being affected by similar displacement whilst large numbers of plants and animal species are displaced/killed off.  This is the sort of trade-off we need to look at.  Or a couple of powerful H-bombs exploded on a remote tropical island in the Pacific (after evacuating any locals) putting so much dust into the stratosphere we cool the Earth and buy time to invest in and build a carbon-neutral economy- a few animals on the said-island might die but that is as nothing as to the massive displacement/loss of species and the misery of long 30C-plus summers across northern Europe that could occur if global warming continues unchecked.

I do not downplay that there are (undoubtedly) risks with Geoengineering measures, there are bigger risks in allowing governments (fearful of their voters) to continue permitting their countries to ply the atmosphere with much more carbon-dioxide.  The COP21 event in Paris did not produce agreement to specific measures to reduce CO2 levels on the scale that will be needed, no government in the World is willingly going to impose steep tariffs on businesses and inhabitants and put their economies into recession because they would be voted out of office for good!  Helping countries to adjust to a zero-carbon economy will (therefore) take time and it will be a century or more before this is done; it means that if nothing else is done to combat global warming it will become too late to reverse the effects of dangerous global warming before we get to that point! 

I would even assert, in view of all this, that if we cannot get international agreement on implementing Geoengineering solutions, that there should be a "Coalition of the Willing" (of say, USA, Canada, Britain, Scandinavia, Germany) to go it alone and drop a few mighty H-bombs on the remote tropical island in the Pacific (or blast an Arctic mountain at noon in June with an asteroid- to reduce the tilt of the Earth and weaken the Summer Sun in the Arctic and preserve the ice-cover there) in order to arrest a dangerous change in the global climate.   

I don't disagree with your sentiments, but the focus must surely be on reducing emissions by finding smarter alternatives to fossil-fuel burning rather than grand untestable geoengineering projects. The US spends more on pet grooming than it does fusion research. It's madness.

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What about this?

http://www.intellectualventureslab.com/invent/introducing-the-stratoshield

This is relatively very cheap, and it's not so much a case of throwing dice as some other solutions are because all we are doing is what a volcano does when it erupts. However, there is no loss of life, no ecological impacts, no one has to be evacuated, etc. (AFAIK).

I agree with Ian here, Governments need to stop faffing around and start doing something. These climate summits seem to get us nowhere.

Edited by Relativistic Sting Jet
P.u.s.s.yfooting was censored so I changed it to faffing.
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Governments around the World certainly need to realise the gravity of the situation before it is too late: I was discussing with my brother the merits of planting trees on a grand, grand scale yesterday and I have to say that there is certainly something in this.  Trees absorb large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere and (over time) they could prevent CO2 levels rising to the point whereby this causes dangerous levels of global warming occur.  My brother also pointed out that lots of healthy young trees would use vast amounts of energy from the Sun in their growth and that, in turning CO2 into oxygen and carbon trees cause an endothermic reaction in that heat (and light) from the Sun is used, and it is used to make chlorophyll.  Certainly trees on a large scale would absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and contribute to a small reduction in the net heat input into the Earth-atmosphere system.

However, trees are dark; certainly those in the jungles and conifers and deciduous trees in summer in mid-latitudes have albedos less than 10%- so surely replacing relatively pale open grassland and scrub (albedo 20 to 25%) with dark forests would increase the proportion of heat absorbed from the Sun contributing to a warming that would cancel out most of the supposed-cooling effects (reduced CO2 over time and endothermic reactions). Alas, trees also moisten the atmosphere above them through evapo-transpiration and promote higher rainfall (this undoubtedly helps the trees planted in drier locations) and the more frequent cloud-cover over newly-forested areas would result in more of the Sun's energy being reflected (cancelling out the effect of darker trees compared to bare ground).  Trees are only evapo-transpirating in summer in higher latitudes and throughout the year only in the deep tropics, at times and places where increased cloud-cover reflects away strong sunshine and where this effect is greater than the effect of cloud-cover having a warming effect at night through preventing outgoing long-wave radiation.

Certainly, there is a case to be made for promoting the planting of trees on a vast scale in regions like southern Brazil, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula where summer rainfall is marginal.  Forests in these locations would probably have a net cooling effect (at least over the longer term) and evaporation from the trees could promote rainfall in these areas, stimulate crop yields and give a boost to local economies all at once.  Replanting higher-latitude forests where the Sun (overall) is weaker and where the increased cloud-cover that results is more important at preventing net radiative heat-loss at night than reflecting heat from a weaker Sun is not something I would particularly advise in the fight against Global Warming!       

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A further point about using trees in the fight against Global Warming, particularly at higher latitudes is that it all depends on the type of trees used:

Deciduous trees have advantages over conifers in that they are not dark green all year-round.  Indeed certain North American trees produce bright yellow leaves which could increase the trees albedo to over 30%; others produce brilliant white blossoms in spring that similarly increase albedos at a time when the Sun is getting strong in higher latitudes.  However, a forest of bare trees in winter still absorbs more of the Sun's heat than bare ground and the effect is enhanced with a highly-reflective snow-cover that the wind blows off the trees. Trees are still evapo-transpirating (and have dark green leaves) in October if the autumn is mild in many mid-latitude locations- the net effect with the Sun weaker by then is for increased cloud to have more of a warming effect through keeping in heat that would otherwise be lost to space under clear skies during long autumn nights.

On balance, I would concur that new forests planted north of about 50N would have a slight global warming effect; the same would be true if forests could be established in barren deserts like the Sahara where both the loss of surface albedo and greatly reduced radiative heat loss (due to clear dry skies being moistened and clouds being produced) caused by forests would outweigh the effect of extra CO2 uptake.  Anywhere outside deserts between 50N and 50S increased forestation would have a cooling effect overall so forests should be planted in these areas.

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On 9/10/2016 at 23:11, knocker said:

 

@knocker, Having read this article, it seems there is certainly potential in crop rotation and regenerating cropland so that it retains more CO2 and so that the land acts as a sink, rather than a source, of CO2. If as much as 40% of all mankind's CO2 emissions can be taken up through a global effort with the farming community it is certainly worth looking into a system of fiscal incentives to encourage farmers to rotate crops, etc and this might buy us another 20 years before the 2C level of mean annual global warming- the point at which dangerous tipping points/feedbacks happen- occurs. It is something that Geo-engineers should have R&D money from the government to look into and to develop practical proposals in order to make this happen.

This Cropland Renewal Scheme, and planting trees (preferably developed light-coloured hybrids) on a global scale (with a little help from the Grand Solar Minimum of 2020 to 2060) could go some way towards postponing dangerous global warming by another 50 years. This should give countries around the World plenty of time to develop carbon-neutral technology without imposing damaging taxes and regulations upon their respective economies.

Failing that there is the Strato-shield that could be looked into as a very last resort, to be implemented as soon as the melting tundra over Canada and Siberia start belching methane (a far more potent "greenhouse gas" than CO2) in colossal quantities!  

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More harm than good with climate geo-engineering

Geo-engineering might be possible – but so far it doesn’t look practical. Yet another study sees dangers in the technofix.

http://climatenewsnetwork.net/23484-2/?utm_source=Climate+News+Network&utm_campaign=3f665ba06b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1198ea8936-3f665ba06b-38767669

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