Sunday, September 26, 2010

Now wouldn't that be fun

Matt Yglesias asks an interesting question

Every time I read an article about geoengineering, I think to myself “what would the reaction in the American press be if it came out that the Chinese government was investing vast sums of money in developing technology to manipulate global weather patterns?”
Perhaps one of the bunnies will wander over to usual suspects and put the question. Perhaps someone will write a post for young Anthony on why this might be a very bad thing.

The obvious problem is that delaying action on climate disruption will lead to intrusive, black helicopter type stuff later, something you would think the cone heads would not like. And, oh yes, climate disruption it is, because, although global in reach, the actual bad stuff will be local disruption. You can tell from the push back that climate disruption is a good description of what we will face.


Anonymous said...

This Little Mouse is a doomsaying little mouse. Sooner or later we are going to panic, and despite the horrendous consequences of geoengineering we will proceed.

Geoengineering must be studied now so that the absolute worst can be avoided. Maybe a little bit of this and a little bit of that may not be as bad as a lot of one.

The protocols must be agreed well in advance. Setting geoengineering protocols will inevitably involve the United Nations. Any single country that proceeds alone will be a pariah in short order.

Unless we start mitigating almost immediately, geoengineering will only be a very short term sop.

thefordprefect said...

Dr. Salter(of the duck fame) has a "sensible" geoengineering idea.

If you wang salty water (sea) micro particles high enough you can create clouds (possibly). Done from enough self powered ships (powered by Flettner rotors) you can change the albedo. Stop throwing the particles and the clouds should vanish. Or ... will all that additional water vapour cuse more warming?

Anonymous said...
"Zhang Qiang, a businesslike woman who heads the Beijing Weather Modification Office"
"The idea of creating good weather received political support from China’s former party head Jiang Zemin after he attended a 2000 celebration in Russia marking the 55th anniversary of the end of World War II. Jiang was impressed when the Russians induced rain to successfully clear up clouds for the ceremony."
Sort of related.

Whatever the science, whoever geoengineers is going to get blamed for bad climate things that happen afterwards.

Little Mouse

jaydee said...

Not just geoengineering. A friend likes the idea of power satellites which would microwave the power down to earth. I'm not sure how many people would be happy with anybody having a multi-megawatt space based microwave laser.

Turboblocke said...

If we can't get global agreement on reducing emissions, what makes you think we'll get it for geo-engineering?

Horatio Algeranon said...

Horatio likes Home Depot-engineering

Some of Horatio's best ideas come while he is scurrying around in the heating and cooling aisle, trying to avoid being crushed by the carts of other Depot Zombies thinking about how to save the world(or at least their small corner of it)

EliRabett said...

No one requires global agreement to start geoengineering.

Anonymous said...

David B. Benson said...

Climate dysfunction

Marion Delgado said...

Eli, Eli:

This is NOT ... repeat ... NOT an idle question. About 14 years ago, I did an in-depth story for one of the dailies on the HAARP near Gulkana, AK (right after it opened to the public). I went to HAARP, interviewed all the scientists and military personnel involved, people from Sen. Ted Stevens' staff, etc. as well as Dr. (of Naturopathic Healing) Nick Begich, Jr. and many other people who were convinced HAARP was nothing more than exactly that technology. Now, 14 years later, of course ... they still think exactly the same thing.

I think a Chinese geoengineering project would make them go ballistic, granted, but not because they think it would be a novelty.

Anonymous said...

"We have become a force of nature ... Not long ago, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, drought, forest fires, even earthquakes and volcanic explosions were accepted as "natural disasters or "acts of God." But now, we have joined God, powerful enough to influence these events." He said essentially the same thing in tonight's presentation.

And of course tonight, Suzuki strongly, even angrily, promoted the human-caused climate catastrophe hypothesis - no one dared contest him in the question period.

men&women of Science, the bold and the beautiful... rok on.

TimChase said...

I think we should be pointing up how different nations would (mis-)manage the the global climate. The interests of some countries will undoubtedly be given disproportionate weight if we start implementing some sort of geoengineering solution.

In the interim, some nations with the resources, military might and large stakes will be sorely tempted to go it on their own, especially the further we let this get out of control. And if in desperation they choose to go it alone their interests will in all likelihood be the sole determinant of how the solution is implemented and of its intended effects.

But if we go down the path of geoengineering politically we will find it that much harder to switch paths later on. And in truth we are already unintentionally masking the effects of global warming -- with the reflective aerosols that are still in the atmosphere -- being sent up by those developing countries that have as of yet to reign in their sulfate and nitrate emissions.

They will have to at some point -- just given the health effects of pollution that already makes the sun invisible on a "clear" day and results in so much respiratory and other illnesses already affecting their populations. And at that point we will see temperatures climb more rapidly than before.

The geoengineering "solution" may postpone the time at which we pay that price. But it can only do so by dimming our world to an increasing extent over time. That will have an increasing effect upon our agriculturally-produced food supply -- just as the increased acidification of oceans will diminish ocean harvests where fish populations are already severely stressed.

At some point economic crisis will likely rob us of the ability to mask the effects of global warming any further. Economic crisis will be followed by economic collapse.

If we choose to blot out the sun I suspect the future of humanity will be quite dim well into a distant future. A future so remote that few if any among us can genuinely comprehend.