A flotilla of "cloud ships" spraying sea water from their funnels could avert global warming for just $9 billion, according to a new think tank study headed by a former climate change skeptic. That's in comparison to the $250 billion which leading nations would consider spending each year to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
The Times reports that U.S. and British scientists have begun fundraising for sea trials, and want to eventually deploy 1,900 wind-powered ships within 25 years. Such a fleet would create white clouds to reflect sunlight and reduce global temperatures, and will likely gain the endorsement of the UK's Royal Society.
Surprisingly, the latest backing for the proposal comes from Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish political scientist who authoered the controversial book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" and founded the Copenhagen Consensus Centre which released the recent study.
Lomborg told the Financial Times that he wanted to find cheaper ways of halting rising temperatures, and made no apologies for his about-face concerning his former climate change skepticism.
Geoengineering still represents a radical approach for many scientists when compared with cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions, even though the idea has become part of cautious discussions by the likes of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the White House science advisor.
Some thinkers such as billionaire Bill Gates have even looked at using similar ship-borne schemes to try and slow or halt hurricanes. But either way, critics point out that grand geoengineering plans can have unwanted consequences.
Lomborg's fresh support for geoengineering won't likely quell the fears of opponents. Many environmentalists and policy experts have already expressed their concerns about the idea to Bloomberg and other media outlets.
[via The Times]
Bjorn Lomborg has never been a global-warming/climate-change skeptic. He has always believed that humans are contributing to warming and climate change.
What he did that garnered so much ire from other environmentalists is criticize prohibitively expensive "solutions" which yield almost no discernible results. He said we should spend our limited monetary resources on other environmental problems that can realistically be improved. I agree.
He is correct in noting that reducing carbon dioxide emissions will be enormously expensive while producing almost no reduction in warming. It says a lot about the blindness of the global-warming movement that they would criticize him for his carefully measured and intelligent stand. It is well known that water vapor has a much more pronounced effect on warming and cooling than CO2.
However it's all still nonsense. Any reasonable review of global temperature measurements shows that the warming of the last century is not unprecedented and that we don't know what the ideal temperature should be. Messing with large-scale geo-engineering is risky, especially when we're not certain that there is a problem.
<b>"Surprisingly, the latest backing for the proposal comes from Bjorn Lomborg".</b> Surprising to whom? Lomborg has always placed the facts and data front and center, using results published in the top journals and the reports of the IPCC to determine the future cost of global warming. He has then argued for the most economically beneficial course of action. For example, if you worry about loss of life in Africa in 100 years time, send money to Africa today. You can do more good. So anyone who has actually read Mr Lomborg would expect him to support an economically promising route to reducing the impact of global warming. Please don't try to cast Lomborg as a crackpot. He is anything but.
Ummm Cloudships? what a crock! I cant believe people waste time on such crap! If the planet is getting warmer there will be more evaporation hence more clouds... also wouldnt the ships are putting water into the air wich in itself is a green house gas. And where are u going to get the energy to convert water into clouds? - Cuz you'll need a bit :) What are u going to burn to produce this energy? ohhhhh lemme guess Biodiesel? hahaha
Are people no longer capable of reading? In this very article they state "wind-powered" ships.
Anyways, I'm not sure it's such a good idea to have a near permanent cloud cover over certain parts of land and the ocean. For one thing there are ecosystems that depend on sunlight and block that out and the system either dies or dramatically alters.
Regardless we should be striving to reduce carbon emissions in a reasonable manner for two good reasons:
1. Better efficiency = less strain on our limited resources.
2. By the time we are 100% sure we're the reason the climate is going to hell it'll probably be too late and/or cost way more money than now.
Bad idea whether it would be affordable or not. All geoengineering plans to reduce sunlight to combat global warming would have bad effects on agriculture. Plants need light. So do solar cells.
While the concerns regarding constant cloud cover in an area are understandable, these are SHIPS and therefore mobile, not stations constantly pumping in one place.
The planet is an ecosystem that evolves based on a realm of conditions that are well beyond our control and our time line. It is not here for our use, we are just one of the evolved happenstances at this time. The planet works quite well at temperatures and conditions that our outside of the humans tolerances. Considering the 4,500,000,000 year age of the planet and of that only the past 5,000 years have been optimal for the survival of humans. So the question is what makes you think that you are so important as to need to modify the self regulating environment of the planet. And considering how much we abuse the fellow occupants, perhaps it is time for us to become extinct.
Would this work better if flexible thin walled tubes were added to or used instead of the solid chimneys. It' seems it would give more height to the formed clouds. Of course these would have to be kept inflated to work and that assumes some kind of powered blowers are used.
I know that microbes, dust and even insects get deposited in the US and South America from African dust storms and wonder if this scheme wouldn't deposit salt and other harmful sea minerals on arable land and that would dimish its ability to grow plants beneficial to reduction of global warming.
I believe the idea would be to put vapor into the air where standard solar energy would evaporate it into typical clouds. Yes, they would retain some salinity, but ocean based humidity already does (you can taste it in the rain from hurricanes here on the USA's eastern coast). By injecting the water into the air you (1) defeat the mass-cooling effect of the ocean that lessens evap, (2) break the surface tension that holds evap in, (3) increase the surface area of the water to air temp and solar heat, and (4) reduce energy need for elevating moisture from sea level.
This would create clouds. The problem is, we already have a cloud producing system that systematically raises water vapor and releases it: trees. Forest produce clouds AND lock in CO2. For the same cost, if you really wanted to work on geo-engineering: desalination and desert irrigation.
This has to be one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard of. So we are ruining the weather by deforestation and producing too much CO2, hey lets try stuffing up the weather even more by pumping salt water into the atmosphere.
This idiot has obviously never been in the tropics. It can get pretty hot even when it's cloudy. The clouds trap the heat.
I wonder if this guy thought about what happens to all the extra salt he's planning to pump into the atmosphere. It is all going to come back down eventually, making rivers that already have salinity problems much worse.
Hmm... I wonder what will happen when all that extra salt spray lands on snowy mountain tops. I wonder if the millions nof people flooded by all the extra snow-melt are going to thank him.
I sent this Idea to the Gov. of California 5 years ago when the drought was threatening water supplys and they never replied.
In my opinion, Lomborg has always underestimated the rate and severity of global warming although it doesn't surprise me that he would advocate geoengineering as a cheap alternative to severe carbon dieting. Frankly, it really doesn't matter what anybody says, geoengineering will either be researched now for deployment later, or it will be deployed later when things get really bad:
"The alternative (to geoengineering) is the acceptance of a massive natural cull of humanity and a return to an Earth that freely regulates itself but in the hot state." --Dr James Lovelock, August 2008
"Frankly, it really doesn't matter what anybody says, geoengineering will either be researched now for deployment later, or it will be deployed later when things get really bad:"
A fine example of the faithful defending the sacred cow of AGW. Thanks, I gave at the office.
The role of clouds in computer models is one of the greatest mysteries to AGW scientist. They have no idea how to treat clouds in their models. Clouds will either reflect sunlight back into space and cool the earth, OR, the additional water vapor (the most effective greenhouse gas on Earth) will cause more global warming.
So what to do?
Well, you may have guessed by now which scenario is most favored by the current crop of AGW politico-scientists. Clouds will cause positive feedback in the climate models: hence causing the large increase in GW that we all hear about.
Proven? No. Convenient? Oh, Yes.