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Offline lemonoman

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Geoengineering
« on: October 21, 2007, 09:07:01 PM »
I've been reading some articles about "Geoengineering", and wondered what everyone else thought of the ideas.

If you're not familiar with it, Geoengineering is the further manipulation of the environment to achieve desired climatic outcomes.  For example, the injection of sulfates into the stratosphere, to increase the planet's albedo, and cause a small amount of global cooling (similar to how the earth cools by fractions of a degree when there are large volcanic eruptions):



Or, in a different league altogether, some have proposed a near-transparent shield to be put in between the earth and the sun to block out whatever amount of sunlight we don't want hitting earth.  So we can say, "Okay, we only want 98.9% of the sun's intensity this month, to keep the temperature where we want it".

Thoughts?  I can provide more details if no one else is familiar enough, or if more people are curious :)

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If you have access to Journals, good articles can be found at:

Nature (2007): "Is this what it takes to save the world?"
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v447/n7141/full/447132a.html

Crutzen.  Climate Change (2006): "Albedo Enhancement by Strospheric Sulfur Injections: A Contribution to Resolve a Policy Dilemma?"
http://www.springerlink.com/content/t1vn75m458373h63/

Offline enahs

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Re: Geoengineering
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2007, 09:39:31 PM »
To do anything on that large of a scale will require massive amounts of energy. I.E. look at what we are doing with CO2, we are every so tinily changing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere; the amount of CO2 we are putting out is quite insignificant as compared to the natural amount; yet it might possibly have a major effect. But look at how much energy it takes to do what we are doing!!!!


I hate to always be the guy shooting down new technology and ideas to "fix" problems, but they all require massive amounts of energy.

It is really important for people to understand that sometimes it is best to just leave things alone, trying to fix it makes it worse; especially something as complicated as the earth!

I think the best thing to do is stop wasting energy and let the earth deal with it; it has dealt with far more CO2 in the past. I have no doubt if we go intentionally trying to alter environment it will either be a waste of time or have disastrous results.


As I have said before, science can help, but I do not see the problems we face dealing with energy as a science problem. It is a economical, social and political problem first.


Offline Bashkin001

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Re: Geoengineering
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2007, 11:11:38 AM »
I'd like to see some more detailed rationales (maybe my fault for not reading enough yet).  Take seeding of iron into ocean deadzones: are those dead zones performing some vital part of the oceans ecosystem?  Or are they just dead by some accidents of geochemical fate?  Or is something, living or not, sequestering all the iron away form the plankton?

Then with the urea dumping- since fertilizer runoff from increased farm use (largely due to bioethanol) is harming the Gulf of Mexico and the rivers and streams all over, why is it a good thing to add this particular nutrient to the ocean?

Geoengineering is, in my mind, just an extension of the very old practice of introducing foreign species into countires or continents to solve some problem.  Rarely did these efforts turn out well, and typically they were disasterous since no natureal predators existed for the exotic animals.

So what about the exotic chemicals?

Of course, the urea production is already happening and companies want a place to dump it.

Offline lemonoman

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Re: Geoengineering
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2007, 11:25:06 AM »
Good points by enahs and Bashkin, I liked them both.

We talked about this in my research group's "group meeting", and the biggest problem people had with the idea was this:

Injecting sulfates to cool the earth takes care of a SYMPTOM of earth's erratic global climate change, but it doesn't deal with WHY it's happening.  All of the other symptoms will still be occurring.

Geoengineering is being proposed, I guess, as an "Emergency Contingency".  In the event that something CATASTROPHIC happens, and we need to cool the earth by half a degree ASAP, sulfate injection may work.  Or we could bomb volcanoes...that might be cheaper and more energy efficient (to make enahs happy :) )

Offline constant thinker

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Re: Geoengineering
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2007, 08:59:29 PM »
In my opinion geoengineering is a bad idea. I think we'd either just make worse, or worse, do nothing at all and waste money and energy. The way in my opinion is to change our habits like enahs said. Move away from fossil fuels, and let earth sequester all the carbon again. It did it in the past, and I don't see why it can't do it again.

The only semi geoengineering I like is pumping CO2 into abandoned oil fields even if it is to just pump up more oil. It puts away some of the CO2 we released.
"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' " -Ronald Reagan

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Offline Donaldson Tan

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Re: Geoengineering
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2007, 10:01:05 AM »
Oh dear, geoengineering will be another disaster.
"Say you're in a [chemical] plant and there's a snake on the floor. What are you going to do? Call a consultant? Get a meeting together to talk about which color is the snake? Employees should do one thing: walk over there and you step on the friggin� snake." - Jean-Pierre Garnier, CEO of Glaxosmithkline, June 2006

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