Let's Just Block the Sun, Shall We?

Just now, Marina Schwarz said:

Harvard Scientists Are Really Launching a Sun-Blocking Geoengineering Experiment

Okay, so it's just a test, on a small scale, they say. But this is how I see humanity eventually doing itself in: driven by paranoia and panic.

Paranoia and panic may be how we do ourselves in, but I don't see anything wrong with experimenting.  In the event that the climate changes significantly - even if we're not causing it - we'll want some measure of control. 

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I think it's unwise, to put it mildly, to experiment with something as fundamental as climate, however good the intentions are behind the experiment. There are always unintended consequences you cannot predict in any way and there is no guarantee whatsoever that these will be beneficial. In the lab, of course, experiment all you want.

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38 minutes ago, Marina Schwarz said:

I think it's unwise, to put it mildly, to experiment with something as fundamental as climate, however good the intentions are behind the experiment. There are always unintended consequences you cannot predict in any way and there is no guarantee whatsoever that these will be beneficial. In the lab, of course, experiment all you want.

You mean like introducing cute little bunny rabbits to Australia?

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(edited)

Spot. On. And cute cuddly cats in New Zealand. And those weren't even deliberate experiments.

Edited by Marina Schwarz
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7 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Harvard Scientists Are Really Launching a Sun-Blocking Geoengineering Experiment

Okay, so it's just a test, on a small scale, they say. But this is how I see humanity eventually doing itself in: driven by paranoia and panic.

We have been doing this for 100 years with particulate emissions from burning coal and aircraft emissions. The impact of this has partially offset global warming. 

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8 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

I think it's unwise, to put it mildly, to experiment with something as fundamental as climate, however good the intentions are behind the experiment. There are always unintended consequences you cannot predict in any way and there is no guarantee whatsoever that these will be beneficial. In the lab, of course, experiment all you want.

We've been playing with the climate since we figured out how to use fire. With this experiment the particles settle out of the atmosphere rapidly, unlike gasses we release that can stay for considerable amounts of time. Although this approach seems to be a last course of action if climate change goes to far.  

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9 hours ago, NickW said:

We have been doing this for 100 years with particulate emissions from burning coal and aircraft emissions. The impact of this has partially offset global warming. 

Please explain that NIck. 

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17 minutes ago, ronwagn said:

Please explain that NIck. 

Aerosols (especially sulphur compounds) 

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Aerosols/page3.php

Aircraft contrails

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/airplane-contrails-may-be-creating-accidental-geoengineering-180957561/

 

The graph below summarises the respective radiative forcing impact (anthropogenic) of different sources. 

 

 

1280px-Radiative-forcings.svg.png

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16 hours ago, NickW said:

We have been doing this for 100 years with particulate emissions from burning coal and aircraft emissions. The impact of this has partially offset global warming. 

Did you just say particulate matter and emissions are good for the planet? I suggest you go into hiding. *percontation point* 

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14 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Did you just say particulate matter and emissions are good for the planet? I suggest you go into hiding. *percontation point* 

Nope - Sulphur aerosols and other particulates are not good for the planet especially peoples health / forests / lakes etc. 

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But they cool the atmosphere?

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8 hours ago, NickW said:

Nope - Sulphur aerosols and other particulates are not good for the planet especially peoples health / forests / lakes etc. 

Have sulphur aerosols and other cooling compounds increased or decreased in the last few decades?  If they decreased, when did that trend begin? 

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7 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

But they cool the atmosphere?

If I said Smoking reducing the risk of Parkinsons Disease this would be correct as all the epidemiology points in that direction.

Would you then translate that as - Smoking is good for your health?

---------------------

Certain aerosols have a short term cooling effect. They also destroy lakes, forest, peoples lungs and quite possibly have a significant impact on circulatory and neurological health.

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No, I understand the difference between specific and general effects. I just did not expect ANY positive effect from emissions.

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6 hours ago, mthebold said:

Have sulphur aerosols and other cooling compounds increased or decreased in the last few decades?  If they decreased, when did that trend begin? 

Sulphur dioxide peaked around 1980 and then fell because of better emissions controls and dash for gas in North America and Europe. Emissions are now rising in China and India. The questions remains as to whether we will see levels start to rise again.

 

so-emissions-by-world-region-in-million-tonnes-2.png

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15 minutes ago, Marina Schwarz said:

No, I understand the difference between specific and general effects. I just did not expect ANY positive effect from emissions.

Coincidentally if you look at that chart the big rise in SO2 emissions up to the 1980 peak roughly corresponds to the period when the Environmentalists (in the fertile imagination of climate change deniers) were telling us the next ice age is upon us.

The global dimming period (1940-1970 ish ) may well have been caused / part caused by the large growth in SO2 emissions, decline of stratospheric ozone, massive growth in aircraft use (contrails generating cloud).

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51 minutes ago, NickW said:

Coincidentally if you look at that chart the big rise in SO2 emissions up to the 1980 peak roughly corresponds to the period when the Environmentalists (in the fertile imagination of climate change deniers) were telling us the next ice age is upon us.

No one has ever explained the correlation between SO2 emissions and the belief that we were in a global cooling period before. It makes sense.

As far as the offsetting emissions, they cancel each other out temporarily.  Given SO2 has a very bad local health effect and has a much shorter half-life than carbon emissions (months rather than years), as we phase out SO2 emissions we should see a spike in global heat.

Last point:  George HW Bush partnered with Mulroney to reduce SO2 and save North American lakes from dying due to acid rain.  They used a cap-and-trade methodology which to me makes much more sense than the carbon tax that so many are proposing.

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" Would you then translate that as - Smoking is good for your health? "

Only if you're predisposed to developing Parkinson's

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8 hours ago, Geoff Guenther said:

No one has ever explained the correlation between SO2 emissions and the belief that we were in a global cooling period before. It makes sense.

As far as the offsetting emissions, they cancel each other out temporarily.  Given SO2 has a very bad local health effect and has a much shorter half-life than carbon emissions (months rather than years), as we phase out SO2 emissions we should see a spike in global heat.

Last point:  George HW Bush partnered with Mulroney to reduce SO2 and save North American lakes from dying due to acid rain.  They used a cap-and-trade methodology which to me makes much more sense than the carbon tax that so many are proposing.

Interesting evidence of a temp spike over the USA immediately after 9/11 as all aircraft grounded. 

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17 hours ago, Happy Go Lucky said:

" Would you then translate that as - Smoking is good for your health? "

Only if you're predisposed to developing Parkinson's

PD is idiopathic but if someone had a profound fear of developing PD my advice would be to drink 3-4 cups of strong coffee each day. Caffiene has a similar effect (not quite as potent as nicotine) without the health impact of smoking.

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(edited)

I would strongly advise to avoid such geoengineering. Other than CCU and natural geoengineering like planting trees, most of the other tech is just going to increase the risk and trust me, if it's researched and relatively ready or even if it's only barely ok in terms of readiness, it'll be applied. That's how humans act in a crisis, that's how the first nuclear weapons came to fall on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that will ultimately be the way we end up using these half baked solutions. There are multiple points of weakness for a sun blocking station. First, it'll be a target for rogue nations who might think they have less to lose or that they can at least scare the rest of the world by targeting it even if there's no real intention to engage, in order to get their way. Another possibility is that as technology advances, terrorist factions that rely on chaos for their survival will actually target it and might be successful. We know we are changing the climate and in terms of natural changes, these are too slow to be of any concern within centuries, maybe even millennia.

Only something like a meteor strike or volcanic eruptions could alter climate within a short enough time to be a concern in terms of naturally occurring events and such a sun shield would do little to protect us against that eventuality. I'm not aware of any natural climate change in history that would have required such preparations at our current technological level. Assuming such major changes take tens of thousands of years which existing evidence that I'm aware of strongly suggests is the case and assuming our civilization survives that long, our technology will be of a different calibre then and such "solutions" are unlikely to be the most effective available. So they neither solve the issue that we have now, nor are they of any use for potential future developments that will be so far off that such technology will be comparable to trying to solve international flight today with the wings Leonardo da Vinci built back in his days, the difference might be even starker on timeframes of tens of thousands of years.

In terms of "spraying stuff", it's unlikely to be applied consistently across the entire world so that will almost certainly create a major amount of both climate and geopolitical chaos. It's one thing to have global pollution do this "naturally" and another when you start deploying masses of planes to spray this stuff in your area, thereby messing up the climate of other sectors that might not be willing to apply pollution as a solution.

Edited by David Jones
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such "experiment" already took place - I believe Soviet Union end up paying soem penalties to Canada for damage caused by acid rains from Norilsk Nikel refinery SO2 emissions.

You may also google pictures from Karagash (one of most polluted place on Earth) where SO2 and metals were polluting air and soil for over a century.

Brutally efficient method though - not only lower radiative forcing but also increases albedo - from desertification (by acid rains)... Nassim Taleb's "intellectual yet idiot" definition seems quite fitting to this "scientists"

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