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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 03:54 PM
Original message
Geo-engineering can save this planet
http://blogs.zdnet.com/green/?p=5229
June 12th, 2009

Geo-engineering can save this planet

Posted by Harry Fuller @ 11:06 am

An article in the next issue of Atlantic puts geo-engineering front and center for stopping the ill effects of global warming. Faster and cheaper than the more political proposals like cap and trade or efficient cars. Its written by Graeme Wood, called Moving Heaven and Earth. When they finally post it online, it will be here.

Some of the schemes include pumping SO₂ into the atmosphere to block much of the incoming solar radiation and cool the planet. Another scheme calls for spraying seawater into the air, forming heavier white clouds to reflect sunlight back where it comes from.

A frisbee fan, my favorite: setting up big electromagnetic guns that would shoot thousands of reflective frisbees into space. Those in turn would turn back the solar energy. Wow! Another is to create a Blade Runner atmosphere, too dense for solar radiation to penetrate. Wed better hurry. Blade Runner is set in 2019.

Woods article claims any of these ideas could be carried out for less than $100-billion. Not much compared to what were paying for bank bail-outs, saving decrepit auto makers or waging war in far-flung parts of Asia. Hell, Bill Gates could do it on his own.

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rockymountaindem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. I read a book about seeding the ocean with ferrous sulfate
i.e. over-the-counter iron supplements. That apparently causes a huge profusion in the density of phytoplankton which create most of the world's oxygen, which also means they consume a lot of carbon dioxide. It might turn a lot of the ocean green, but apparently it's an idea that some people are considering.
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:05 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. 
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scubadude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:07 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. The results of those experiments net zero in CO2 reduction.
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rockymountaindem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:10 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Bummer dude
Oh well.
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scubadude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:31 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. There is plenty of room for hope.
As we learn more of course we must adapt, but we must concentrate on "the things we know we know", as opposed to "the things we know we don't know", not to be confused with "the things we don't know we know" as compared to "the things we don't know we don't know"...

Otherwise we may be trapped in a Rumsfeldian world of double talk and misdirection, and that would be pure torture! :wow:


Scuba
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scubadude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:02 PM
Response to Original message
2. Is this another magic bullet proposal?

My opinion is that magic bullets are what got us here in the first place. We need to learn how to control the bullets we have let fly already before we can move on to using more. When bullets fly unintended accidents are often what occurs.

Scuba

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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Well, actually it's a clip of magic bullets
I guess we'll need to wait for the article to become available.
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scubadude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:20 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. There are many ideas in this regard.
See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/0812221145...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/0901141622...

There are many more, but I won't dwell. My main point is that these ideas may lure us off the path that we know will work. We must lower our output of greenhouse gasses.

It is foolish to rely on other potential fixes that may not work. The risks are too great. I could see looking into some of these ideas as a sort of insurance policy, but we must concentrate first on correcting the problem at it's root.

Scuba

Scuba
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Fotoware58 Donating Member (473 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:40 PM
Response to Reply #2
11. How to reduce 6-8% of GHG's nationwide
All we have to do is eliminate catastrophic wildfires through scientifically-sound forest management. It wouldn't take any big technological breakthrough or desperate activities like we're seeing presented here. Simply by making our overstocked and tinder-dry forests into healthy ecosystems that resist fires, we can drastically reduce GHG's that spew into our upper atmosphere. Currently, high-intensity fires put out up to 300 tons of GHG's per acre of thick forest. Reducing that amount to the 8-30 tons per acre that "natural" fires produce would make a significant dent in GHG emissions. As a nice side effect, we could have forests that again become carbon sinks instead of huge sources. We could also put people to work, have nice products made out of wood, have cleaner air, cleaner water, better wildlife habitat and a bountiful source of cleaner renewable energy.

Yes, burning forests produce 6-8% of our nation's total GHG output but, many people don't want you to know that.
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scubadude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. I agree, a return to a more natural ecosystem is key.
Fire is included in that. Both setting them and putting them out.

Ecosystems rely on periodic fire to thin the undergrowth over a hundred years of unnatural fire prevention within our forests has allowed an unnatural burden of undergrowth and dead wood to accumulate. This prevents native animals who have evolved over tens of millions of years to live with the naturally occurring fire from having a normal life. It also endangers the greater forest because the undergrowth burns with a ferocity which burns the larger trees as well.

On the other hand man made fire, like those in Indonesia used to clear jungle of vegetation and those elsewhere used to make charcoal create an unnatural amount of smoke in places that see fire very infrequently.

I guess ultimately Earth did pretty well without us. We create change at an unnatural rate adding to the natural burden for the earth. Millions of years of evolution have created a natural ecosystem that copes with itself. Mans burden breaks the Camel's back.

Scuba
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Fotoware58 Donating Member (473 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Yes, however...
the fact remains that we CANNOT acheive a natural balance with fire alone. Yes, the greatest minds in forest ecosystems have finally come around to embrace the idea of forest management. Dr. Jerry Franklin, Dr. Thomas Bonnicksen and Dr. Stephen Pyne all agree that fires alone absolutely cannot restore forests to what they once were. They all say that we cannot reduce fuel loadings by setting fire to them without first preparing those forests with thinning projects. Envision trying to burn small portions of a giant haystack without having the entire pile go up in smoke. If anyone thinks otherwise, they have an ulterior motive that will doom our forests to catastrophic fires. Indeed, we have already seen this in action and forests have been vaporized from both accidental fires AND lightning fires. Why must it be this way?!?!? Why do we not trust our best scientists?!?! Why do we trust politicians to "save the forests"?!?

Prescribed fires will be essential to restore forests, as you say but, not without human intervention, in some form or another. We have many techniques and treatments to apply to our forests. I tend to think that it is politics that keeps us from restoring our forests. In today's world, politics trumps science and the natural world suffers.

Does anyone have a solution to this terrible situation?!?
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scubadude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 07:53 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. I guess you miss the importance of this sentence from my post.
"It also endangers the greater forest because the undergrowth burns with a ferocity which burns the larger trees as well"

It is implied that the undergrowth must be thinned before a burn, hence the "ferocity of the fire will burn the larger trees as well."

I have actually participated in a burn, on my families old 8 acre, heavily wooded plot. Before the burn we thinned out any potential "hot spots". The guys from the Nature Conservancy (my sisters friends) were in charge, I just helped. At any rate after the burn most of the multi-flora rose bushes were dead. In just a few weeks you couldn't even tell there was a burn, such was the regrowth.

Yes, there is a science to this. You are totally correct in my view.

Scuba
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Fotoware58 Donating Member (473 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 08:23 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. My apologies
Edited on Fri Jun-12-09 08:25 PM by Fotoware58
I am so used to having people assume that I am a timber beast who only wants to clearcut and then burn. People who only wish to preserve the conflict by accusations that just aren't true.

It sounds like you live in the east where controlled burns are quite effective and safe, unlike in the western forests. Last April, I was in southern Mississippi and saw active prescribed fires. It's really interesting how prescribed fires can be set and walked away from when the humidity is at that perfect level.

All of us need to be open to trust, following science and avoiding the trap of partisan politics, from either party. Alas, for some folks, this is patently impossible. Those people aren't even willing to consider listening to real forest ecosystem science. It takes a whole "suite" of techniques and treatments to restore forests to a more "natural" state. The idea of forests without man's manipulation is very foreign to some. However, no one knows what forests looked like before man arrived. How can we say that those pre-man conditions are what is needed?? Indian-manipulated forests vary quite widely and we cannot say that those conditions are best. Today's forests need the be able to survive drought, survive bark beetles and survive fires.

Anything less is disaster.

Again, sorry for implying anything towards you, scubadude. BTW, I also am a very big Zappa fan.
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scubadude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-14-09 07:29 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. Yeah, it will take man to remedy man's meddling.
That is unless we burn it all and wait a thousand years for nature to catch up.

Yes, it is a very complex problem where there is no single measure that will work everywhere. Unlike CO2 sequestering though, I think we can speed up nature's hand on this one.

Just got back from a visit to Morton Arboretum. Great place, with quite a bit of forest reclamation. Yes, it is very small, but at least the practice is being tested out and succeeding.

Yes, Zappa was great. Too bad he didn't live to see the Bush years. Imagine!

Scuba
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Fotoware58 Donating Member (473 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-14-09 08:29 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Alas...
historians will look back on this era and wonder why we didn't lift a finger to save forests? Why we chose to let fires burn? How did we decide that, in the face of global warming, wildfires were good for forests? Why was politics more important than saving forests and endangered species? Why weren't we progressive enough to accept the solutions offered by science?

It's just so sad to see purposeful incineration of our National Forests.

Zappa would have been licking his chops over the Bush Administration. Who knows? He could have made the difference in both Bush elections. He was very involved in trying to sign his fans up to vote in the '88 election. His album "Broadway the Hard Way" dealt very much with those politics and the songs still ring very true today (errrr....last election). However, think of the material he would have been able to use from Clinton's term, as well. "The Blue Dress" would have been a very good song title. How about "The Meaning of IS"? Zappa was never afraid to make fun of Democrats, too!
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scubadude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-16-09 03:17 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Zappa took aim not so much at parties, but at hypocrisy.
Edited on Tue Jun-16-09 03:20 PM by scubadude
I am increasingly in agreement with him in that view. It seems that although there are differences between the parties, in many ways that count they are distressingly alike.

Yeah, you are right, Zappa would have had a great time with Bill. Perhaps because of the way he lied and why, to protect himself from a scandal of his own making. That being said Yet I could also see him going after the folks who persecuted Bill, because after all, many have done the same or worse. I think he would have had a better time with Bush, maybe with song's like "Confessing to the Bush" or "Puttin Food on the Family", or "Schlock and Drawl", or "Screaming out for Amurika", or "Another Vietnam", or "Pissin in your Boots", or "Wanna Shoot Your Face Off", or "Dubya's Got One Mean Dick" or "Screwed by Dubya and the Dick", you could go on forever...

Scuba

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ddiver Donating Member (188 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:06 PM
Response to Original message
5. Kudzu! That worked out well.
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Larkspur Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 04:33 PM
Response to Original message
10. Here's another idea -- start a chain reaction volcanic eruption
In the last 8-10,000 thousand years, we've lived in a relatively quiet volcanic period. Volcanoes spew SO2 into the atmosphere so why not encourage them to blow their tops? :sarcasm:

Some of these geo-engineering ideas are interesting. I like the frisbee fan.
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pscot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 08:01 PM
Response to Reply #10
15. Terrific idea
Let's deliberately do to the troposphere what we've accidentally done to the oceans; litter it with tons of plastic debris. What could possibly go wrong there? We seem to be working our way through the five stages of grief. This is number three, we're trying to bargain our way out of the situation.
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The Croquist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-12-09 11:13 PM
Response to Original message
17. Any time I see this I can't believe that people would think this is a good idea
This is the STUPIDEST idea imaginable. If you're in a hole you stop digging. Screwing up something to fix something else is crazy. If you think we have a CO2 problem (I don't) stop emitting CO2 don't poison us with Sulfur Dioxide.

I'll tell you what. Go stand up in a canoe for a few hours and let me know how that works out. It will lean left, you will lean right. It will lean right, you will lean left. It will lean left, you will lean right. THEN YOU'RE ALL STINKING WET, your wallet is soaked and the bag containing the stuff that made you think that standing in up in a canoe was a good idea is floating away.

Repeat the process until you learn to keep your ass in the canoe.
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