Earlier this year, Russian scientists carried out perhaps the first true geoengineering trial that could help combat rising global temperatures. But their efforts received little attention until a recent Mother Jones story by Chris Mooney, a science journalist who also blogs for Discover.
Scientists have long known that aerosols in the atmosphere can reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth, and so some geoengineering schemes had proposed cutting global temperatures by deploying aerosols. The Russian scientists put that plan into action by placing aerosol generators on a helicopter and a car chassis, so that they could spew sulfates at heights of up to 656 feet (200 meters) and see how much that cut back on sunlight.
The field test proved that the concept works, according to study results published in the journal Russian Meteorology and Hydrology in July. Lead scientist Yuri A. Israel, a top scientific advisor to Vladimir Putin, has also suggested ramping up the technological possibilities of aerosol-based engineering. Israel remains among the minority skeptical of human-caused global warming, but has embraced geoengineering.
This is a very different venture compared to cloud seeding efforts, such as Moscow's plans to divert heavy snowfall, or China's similar effort that dumped a crippling snowstorm on Beijing. Cloud seeding focuses on manipulating local weather and specifically causing rain or snow -- by contrast, the aerosol geoengineering has been considered for use on a global scale to reduce global temperatures.
As Mooney suggests, this may prompt other scientists and policymakers to really scrutinize geoengineering schemes and perhaps put restrictions on them. After all, the relative ease of carrying out such experiments means that anyone with enough money and know-how could carry them out.
This is a dangerous technology to be testing. I am all for insuring human survival and such, however this has the potential to destroy life just as much as it does to save it. To bad our "trial runs" can't be on Mars or Venus...
It makes sense from a cost-benefit perspective to pump aerosols into the atmosphere because it's (so far) easily the most inexpensive way to cool the globe--as Mt. Pinatubo and Mt. Hudson demonstrated in 1991--but no one is going to do it. Too many possible adverse effects, and global warming junkies aren't interested in that kind of result. What is more important to them is limiting industrial production in the form of CO2 even though it has a negligible effect on warming. And we already know the adverse effects of limiting CO2 and have decided we can live with them: continued poverty, political unrest, and wars in developing nations trying to achieve the wealth of industrial nations, to name a few.
Funny how CO2 has become the invisible bogeyman much like nuclear radiation. We know for a fact that nuclear fission is the "greenest" and safest proven large scale energy production technology but environmentalists are opposed to it. Living with logical contradictions seems a defining characteristic of that group.
The only way governments will choose this option would be if some smart bureaucrat (oxymoron?) can think of a way to gain from it, huge taxation and power over the people. Otherwise no way, too much power the other way. The idea itself has the potential to be dangerous if done badly. But I don't think that would bother them if they did find that taxation trick.
"Living with logical contradictions seems a defining characteristic of that group." That made me smile. I agree completely, whether its co2, political correctness, or an intolerant rage filled vitriolic rant about tolerance of all things. Sometimes I wonder how people are able to shoehorn such incompatible thoughts in their minds without going completely mad.
This proves the other too, if we can artifcially cool the planet off then we can artifcially warm it up. Since no real data was published here we cannot determine how much.
I completely agree with you laurenra7. As Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl proved, nuclear radiation is completely overblown and is harmless. Also I like how the nuclear fission reactors you propose will manage to mine the uranium and store the byproducts of fission without ever having to use a drop of fossil fuels. I absolutely agree with the idea that we should pump money into an industry that has huge lobbying influence in Congress, that plan could never fail, as the numerous overblown defense contracts have shown. It is also brilliant that your plan will break even in say about 50 years time, as compared with the about 10 of a wind farm. I also am amazed at the great idea of pumping sulfates into the atmosphere, I, like you am completely enamored with having diluted sulfuric acid as rain. Finally, I am in awe of your ability to discredit a couple decades of climate research without any evidence. You deserve a Noble Prize more than even Obama.
If and it's a big if we decide to do this we may have a huge advantage over other countries in the fact that we could put the additive in gas tanks in cars in the mountains in the west and possibly east for a more effective deployment due to the fact that they would be released at 1,000 ft. or even much more. Even if this treatment won't be done the dispersal in the mountains should still be remembered.
This idea is absolutely rotten and I find it hard to believe anyone would seriously consider implementing it. Sure it might make the Earth cooler, but at the expense of reducing the amount of light that we get. Plants need light. Trying to cool the Earth by reducing sunlight will make every farm in the world less efficient. That means less food. Would you rather be hot or hungry? It also would reduce the power you get from photovoltaics.
I knew you'd see it my way William-sudo. As you cleverly pointed out, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were leveled by fission bombs which were designed specifically to devastate. Fission reactors are designed to produce safe and clean power. Bombs and reactors are different technology with different purposes. Chernobyl was an outdated, unsafe reactor design even for its time, built by a government that had little concern for safety or quality control, which is symptomatic of communism...but that's another topic.
The number of casualties of pollution from coal-fired plants in a single year far exceed all the casualties of nuclear power generation (mostly accidents) since the dawn of the nuclear age. All the high-level waste generated since the first reactor powered up would cover a football field about 15 feet deep. Most of that waste could be reprocessed and re-used. Nothing comes close to the efficiency of nuclear power plants. The safety record is the best of any competing technology. Think of nuclear plants as modern airliners and everything else as automobiles. It's a very safe technology.
In the U.S. 50% of electricity comes from coal-fired plants, a product of economic realities. We have large coal reserves so it's relatively inexpensive. Nuclear accounts for about 20% and renewables like solar and wind make up only about 8%.
We should use solar and wind power where practical, but neither will replace coal (or nuclear) anytime soon for all kinds of reasons. Land use: the wind farm equivalent of one nuclear power plant would cover 50-plus square miles (nuclear=1.5). Consistency: wind farms generate electricity only when the wind blows (or the sun shines for solar). Both require electricity storage which is very expensive and "dirty." Nuclear generates electricity all the time and output can be easily increased or decreased to meet demand.
As for climate research, I'm not sure why you think that I discredited any. It is a mathematical fact that the effect of CO2 on warming is a logarithmic function meaning that for example, to increase global temperatures by about 2 F would require doubling the CO2 saturation of the atmosphere, if there are no other factors to account for which might increase/reduce that amount of heating. In fact mechanisms in our dynamic atmosphere appear to reduce the projected heating by CO2. Just for reference, a change in humidity (water vapor) of only 4% on any given day (which happens almost every day all over the world) causes the same amount of heating as doubling CO2. So there you have it. The contribution to warming by CO2 is negligible. Knowing that, you could ask what the big fuss over CO2 is. I don't know.
To: laurenra7 - Associating war only with financial differentiation is short sighted, the Muslim Quran/Koran encourages religous conquest - it's a religion of conquest. For example, the chant "death to infidels" essentially means convert to Islam or die. Islamic world conquest is the eventual goal of the Islamic faith. If a Muslim tells you that's not true, then they are not being obedient to their faith or the Quran. Unfortunately we have more on our hands right now than just global warming/climate change problems. If the non-muslim community is crippled or destroyed, there will be very little concern for climate change or peoples rights under the new regime.