Geoengineering: Obama administration’s global dimming plans are dangeorus

Posted: April 12, 2009 in environment, science & technology
Tags: ,

pollution_point

The previous post looked at how different US government agencies, especially the DOE, are actively researching options of geo-engineering the planet to mitigate the effects of global warming. While these efforts took shape already under the Bush administration, Obama looks like he will continue with yet another unwholesome policy of his predecessor.

John Holdren, the new science advisor to President Obama, is actively considering radical geoengineering ideas in order to halt global warming. One such idea now being discussed with the Obama administration involves launching enormous amounts of pollution particles into Earth’s upper atmosphere to block the sun’s rays and “chill” the planet.

This idea of eliminating of eliminating the effects of atmospheric pollution by adding more pollution is utterly absurd.

First, adding pollutants like sulphur to the upper atmosphere is playing a risky game with the earth’s ecosystem. And, let’s face it, allowing scientists to be the game players might not only dim the planet but also make our chances of success look pretty dim. After all, it’s been science that got us into the current predicaments in the first place. Scientists have a pretty bad track record in holistically predicting outcomes in highly complex systems, and even Holdren admits unspecified and unknown risks – apart from studies that already suggesting that artificially added particles might eat away a large chunk of the ozone layer above the poles and cause the Mediterranean and the Mideast to be much drier. We better let people in these areas know that it’s time to stand up and declare loudly that science cannot be trusted with any geoengineering efforts.

Secondly, even if global dimming strategies would work, what would happen then? Would we stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere? Of course not. So far we have not managed to handle our global warming contributions sensitively and rationally, and the chances are that we will continue polluting, thinking either that we’ve found a panacea or that we have bought ourselves more time before we have to act. Most likely, all we will end up with as a result will be a vicious cycle of impoverishing the earth’s atmosphere with chemtrails and pumping out more greenhouse gases. The idea of global dimming is just another one of those techno-fix bandaid solutions that allows the cause to fester rather than being cured.

Third: let’s not forget that life on this planet thrives on sunlight because it promotes plant growth, and plants are pretty much parts of most species food chain, including of course our own. One might think that dimming sunlight a bit might not have a major impact; after all: it’s less than having a cloudy day. Wrong! Why? Read this excerpt from an article by Mike Adams in natural news:

1816 is known in the western world as the “year without a summer” because of the eruption of a massive volcano named Tambora located in modern-day Indonesia. The amount of particulate matter ejected into the atmosphere by the volcano dimmed the sun across much of the world and chilled the summer temperatures so drastically that to this day, the year 1816 is called “Eighteen hundred and froze to death.

That year, a record-keeping meteorologist named Edward Holyoke recorded this entry on June 7 (which should be summer): “…exceeding[ly] cold. Ground frozen hard, and squalls of snow through the day. Icicles 12 inches long in the shade at noon day.”

A poem from that year reads,

The trees were all leafless, the mountains were brown
The face of the country was scathed with a frown
And bleak were the hills, and the foliage sere
As had never been seen at that time of the year.

You can read more about the Summer of 1816 here at Wikipedia

Fourth: it would be naive to assume that sulphur chemtrails will stay within the atmospheric layer they were dropped onto. Sulphur returning to earth can have devastating outcomes. In my last post I already mentioned how it can negatively impact on human health. On top of that, we know already from past experience the role sulphur plays in creating acid rain, and we have seen its results. And what we don’t know anything about are any other consequences for the eco system, such as acidification of oceans, rivers and lakes, and the effects on other life forms.

So, all in all there are too many concerns outweighing possible benefits of global dimming strategies (and I say ‘possible’ because we can’t even guarantee they will work while we still facing the risks of trying). At this point in time therefore, undertaking any geoengineering effort simply is an act of foolishness.

[Cartoon by Mike Adams]

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Comments
  1. jack caesar says:

    Any better ideas?! If you look into the full details of such geo-engineering projects, of which there are many, I think you might be surprised at how much the scientists involved in them DO NOT WANT TO USE THEM. It is well documented, and obviously sensible, that the best way to limit climate change is to reduce emissions. However when the best models and scientists calculate what effect this would have, the answer is that it would most likely not be enough to return our planet to pre-industrial (circa 1800) levels of CO2 in the atmosphere – an aim set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Although many scientists are attempting to find ways to reduce emissions, from everything I have read about in this area it seems wise to at least spend money on developing other (geo-engineering methods) in case they have to be used in the near future.

    • isiria says:

      sure, but the problems is that none of these solutions are really understood and therefore could make things worse than they are right now. there are countless examples of science having tried to fix a problem and creating a much bigger one with its solution.

      the real question is not whether to do something or not; the real question is what paradigm is science using to come to the rescue. our common scientific paradigm is a reductionist one that consequently leads to technical fixes. each scientist is a specialist and there is no general attempt being made to bring these bits together in a holistic system of knowledge. band aid solutions therefore might sound honourable, but they won’t get us away from climate change results that are spiraling out of control.

  2. jack caesar says:

    Of course, the whole situation is far from ideal! But in the news/this article it makes out that talking about geo-eng is the same as actually doing it. This is not my point, I believe that money should be spent on looking into any ideas in case one day we have no other choice. More understanding IS needed, as you point out, and the only way this can happen efficiently is to spend money, and that is what Holdren is advising Obama. Put it however you like, but this may well be the lesser of two evils, and perhaps (fingers crossed it won’t come to it! – although hoping is not necessarily a good option, its what we have been doing for far too long!) such ideas wont be needed.

    Having said that though, many geo-engineering options are have very little danger attatched to them, such as air storage – where basically fake trees are made, and they take in CO2 for permanent storage. Time and effort should, in my opinion, be at least put into inverstigations in such areas.

    Its definitely something that needs addressing, and being in the news does get in the open!

    • isiria says:

      ok granted: research can be done. my concern though is that the US government will focus more on geoengineering solutions than on reducing greenhouse gases. despite all the obama rhetoric, not much has happened yet in terms of setting realistic targets – apart from democratic senators from coal mining states already balking at CO2 reduction targets. and science is always ready to help – which is where my main concern lies: reductionist approaches are one of root causes for the planet’s rapidly changing biosphere, and i have very little faith in future large-scale geoengineering projects being understood well enough to not cause more irreparable damage. sounds like you have more faith, maybe because you fully trust what i consider a highly flawed scientific paradigm.

  3. Rachael Webb says:

    Jack Caesar, YOUR A FREAKIN LUNATIC!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is no such thing as the lesser of two evils when talking about the only planet humans have to live on. Why dont you read a book on Venus and shut up! A world of of fake trees? what the hell what was your highest grade level 2nd? A natural world is the only we can survive, and pumping toxic metals into the air we breathe is homicidal. Its idiots like yourself that keep these global warming nuts around. THERE IS NOT SUCH THING AS GLOBAL WARMING. the whole notion was based on another idiots master thesis, it was a theroy, a what if..

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