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Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

Last post 08-05-2006, 6:45 PM by Vortex. 46 replies.
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  •  07-31-2006, 3:02 PM 2609

    Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    Published on Monday, July 31, 2006 by the Independent / UK
    Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming
    by Steve Connor
     
    A Nobel Prize-winning scientist has drawn up an emergency plan to save the world from global warming, by altering the chemical makeup of Earth's upper atmosphere. Professor Paul Crutzen, who won a Nobel Prize in 1995 for his work on the hole in the ozone layer, believes that political attempts to limit man-made greenhouse gases are so pitiful that a radical contingency plan is needed.

    In a polemical scientific essay to be published in the August issue of the journal Climate Change, he says that an "escape route" is needed if global warming begins to run out of control.

    Professor Crutzen has proposed a method of artificially cooling the global climate by releasing particles of sulphur in the upper atmosphere, which would reflect sunlight and heat back into space. The controversial proposal is being taken seriously by scientists because Professor Crutzen has a proven track record in atmospheric research.

    A fleet of high-altitude balloons could be used to scatter the sulphur high overhead, or it could even be fired into the atmosphere using heavy artillery shells, said Professor Crutzen, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany.

    The effect of scattering sulphate particles in the atmosphere would be to increase the reflectance, or "albedo", of the Earth, which should cause an overall cooling effect.

    Such "geo-engineering" of the climate has been suggested before, but Professor Crutzen goes much further by drawing up a detailed model of how it can be done, the timescales involved, and the costs.

    In his forthcoming scientific paper, Professor Crutzen emphasises that the best way of averting global climate disaster is for countries to cut back significantly on their emissions of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide produced by burning oil, gas and coal. But in the absence of such measures, and with the average global temperature expected to rise more than 3C this century, there may soon come a time when more extreme measures have to be considered, he said.

    "If sizeable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will not happen and temperatures rise rapidly, then climatic engineering, as presented here, is the only option available to rapidly reduce temperature rises and counteract other climatic effects," Professor Crutzen said.

    "Such a modification could also be stopped on short notice, if undesirable and unforeseen side-effects become apparent, which would allow the atmosphere to return to its prior state within a few years," he said.

    Such an idea is so controversial that some scientists opposed its publication in the peer-reviewed scientific press, fearing that it may encourage the view that it is easier to treat the symptoms rather than the causes of climate change.

    Professor Crutzen, however, argues that the "grossly disappointing" international political response to the necessity of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions means that it should no longer be considered taboo to think about geo-engineering of the climate.

    "Importantly, its possibility should not be used to justify inadequate climate policies, but merely to create a possibility to combat potentially drastic climate heating," he said. "The very best would be if emissions of the greenhouse gases could be reduced. Currently, this looks like a pious wish."

    His plan is modelled partly on the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption in 1991, when thousands of tons of sulphur were ejected into the atmosphere causing global temperatures to fall.

    Pinatubo generated sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere which cooled the Earth by 0.5C on average in the following year. The sulphate particles did this by acting like tiny mirrors, preventing a portion of incoming sunlight from reaching the ground.

    Professor Crutzen calculated that a relatively small amount of sulphur could cause similar cooling if it was released at high enough altitudes into the stratosphere, rather than at the lower altitude of the troposphere. Weather balloons or even artillery shells could be used to carry the sulphur.

    "Although climate cooling by sulphate aerosols also occurs in the troposphere, the great advantage of placing reflective particles in the stratosphere is their long residence time of about one to two years, compared to a week in the troposphere," Professor Crutzen said.

    "It may be possible to manufacture a special gas that is only processed photochemically in the stratosphere to yield sulphate," he said. Such a compound should be non-toxic, insoluble in water, non-reactive, and have a relatively short half-life of about 10 years.

    It would cost between $25bn and $50bn - or about $25 or $50 per head in the developed world - to launch sufficient sulphate to last for up to two years.

    But this high cost should be measured against the much bigger costs of environmental disasters, such as coastal flooding, caused by global warming, he said.

    Side-effects could be an increase in the destruction of the ozone layer and whitening of the sky, although the particles would make sunsets and sunrises more spectacular, he said.

    Other 'geo-engineering' ideas

    * Reflecting mirrors:

    Earth's natural reflectance or "albedo" reflects about 30 per cent of sunlight back into space. Increasing the albedo could be done by building giant unfolding mirrors in space, laying reflecting film in the deserts, or floating white plastic islands in the ocean to mimic reflective effect of sea ice.

    * Swallowing up CO2:

    Marine plankton absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which the microbes need for photosynthesis. The growth of plankton is limited by the relatively small amounts of iron in the sea. Scientists have conducted experiments on boosting plankton by throwing iron filings into the sea.

    © 2006 Independent News and Media Limited


    "Dwell in possibility" - Emily Dickinson
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  •  07-31-2006, 3:13 PM 2614 in reply to 2609

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    Hi,

    Side-effects could be an increase in the destruction of the ozone layer and whitening of the sky, although the particles would make sunsets and sunrises more spectacular, he said.

    Before we start spending $25 billion or more on this brilliant idea: please be aware that Paul Crutzen is Dutch. You can legaly buy softdrugs over here, remember?

    Another Dutch expert claims that we have no clue on future climate changes, since it is influenced by way too many factors, so it largely depends on who you ask.

    Let's all just be cool.

    Peter





    Albert Einstein is the Wilber of physics.
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  •  07-31-2006, 4:09 PM 2619 in reply to 2614

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    I'm no expert Arthur, but the proposal sounds a little dicey. Like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, only to have three more leaks spring on him. Pretty creative, it may work...may not.

    Sure Global Warming is still not proven, but why not do what we can to decrease its likelihood. It's like smoking cigarettes. You may get cancer, you may not. You may get coronary artery diease, you may not. Why not optimize your chances?

    Dan

     

    UK, Calif. to strike global warming deal

    By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press WriterMon Jul 31, 3:05 PM ET

    Britain and California are preparing to sidestep the Bush administration and fight global warming together by creating a joint market for greenhouse gases.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plan to lay the groundwork for a new trans-Atlantic market in carbon dioxide emissions, The Associated Press has learned. Such a move could help California cut carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists blame for warming the planet. President Bush has rejected the idea of ordering such cuts.

    Blair and Schwarzenegger were expected to announce their collaboration Monday afternoon in Los Angeles, according to documents provided by British government officials on condition of anonymity because the announcement was forthcoming.

    The aim is to fix a price on carbon pollution, an unwanted byproduct of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gasoline. The idea is to set overall caps for carbon and reward businesses that find a profitable way to minimize their carbon emissions, thereby encouraging new, greener technologies.

    Monday's meeting was being hosted by Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group, and Lord John Browne, chairman of British Petroleum. British and American business leaders planned to use it to also discuss other ways of accelerating use of low-carbon technologies.

    In California, government officials disputed that the agreement was an attempt to sidestep the White House. In a conference call with reporters, state Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Linda Adams said the agency is in "constant contact" with federal regulators, but added that there was no discussion with Washington about Monday's agreement, which involves only voluntary actions.

    "This is an agreement to share ideas and information. It is not a treaty," said Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarzenegger's communications director. "Right now, all we are doing is talking about sharing ideas."

    The world's only mandatory carbon trading program is in Europe. Created in conjunction with the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 international treaty that took effect last year, it caps the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted from power plants and factories in more than two dozen countries.

    Companies can trade rights to pollute directly with each other or through exchanges located around Europe as long as the cap is met. Canada, one of more than 160 nations that signed Kyoto, plans a similar program.

    Although the United States is one of the few industrialized nations that haven't signed the treaty, some Eastern states are developing a regional cap-and-trade program. And some U.S. companies have voluntarily agreed to cap their carbon pollution as part of a new Chicago-based market.

    A main target of the agreement between Britain and California is the carbon from cars, trucks and other modes of transportation. Transportation accounts for an estimated 41 percent of California's greenhouse gas emissions and 28 percent of Britain's.

    Schwarzenegger has called on California to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2010. California was the 12th largest source of greenhouse gases in the world last year, bigger than most nations.

    Blair has called on Britain to reduce carbon emissions to 60 percent of its 1990 levels by 2050. Britain also has been looking at imposing individual limits on carbon pollution. People who accumulate unused carbon allowances — for example, by driving less, or switching to less-polluting vehicles — could sell them to people who exceed their allowances — for example by driving more.

    Bush has resisted Blair's efforts to make carbon reduction a top international priority. After taking office, Bush reversed a 2000 campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, then withdrew U.S. support from the Kyoto treaty requiring industrialized nations to cut their greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels.

    The United States is responsible for a quarter of the world's global warming pollution. Bush administration officials argue that requiring cuts in greenhouse gases would cost the U.S. economy 5 million jobs. Instead, the administration has poured billions of dollars into research aimed at slowing the growth of most greenhouse gases while advocating a global cut on one of them, methane.

    Craig Noble of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, said the pact had symbolic value but "the time for talk is over." He urged passage of a proposal, pending in the state legislature, that would make California the first state in the nation to cap greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources.

    "The bottom line is, voluntary is not enough," Noble said.

    ___

    Associated Press Writer Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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  •  07-31-2006, 5:01 PM 2625 in reply to 2619

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    A careful reading of the article shows him emphasizing that this is far from an ideal solution, it's risky, it should only be done IF preventative methods (such as cutting back on carbon emissions) are not pursued and IF global warming starts to spiral out of control; he also notes that he's pessimistic given the lack of progress so far. 

    Sounds fair to me.  I hope that scientists are starting to think of serious contingency plans to use in case of global warming emergency.  I don't see him anywhere proposing that we do this next Thursday, shortly after lunch.  Smile [:)]

    In any case, I posted the article for interest...I am not advocating that we do this.  I do find it interesting to speculate that we may be entering territory where radical intervention in the biosphere might be done in an attempt to avert catastrophe.  

    arthur


    "Dwell in possibility" - Emily Dickinson
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  •  07-31-2006, 5:51 PM 2627 in reply to 2625

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    The idea is straight out of a science fiction story, incredible that this may actually be considered

    Sounds fair to me.  I hope that scientists are starting to think of serious contingency plans to use in case of global warming emergency.  I don't see him anywhere proposing that we do this next Thursday, shortly after lunch. 

    Well, I may be 20 feet underwater with IKarma throwing me a lifejacket! Time to head back to the Midwest.

     I've started my global warming activism by eating less baked beans.

     

    Dan

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  •  07-31-2006, 6:43 PM 2631 in reply to 2627

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    I find the side effects the most disturbing. "Could destroy the Ozone" esp. disturbing. I'm no genius, but damn, everything I've every read said we kinda need that to stay around.

    I work in a ATC field (Air Traffic Control, for those unfamiliar with the acronym). I deal with weather all the time....

    IS it Global Warming, or just a cycle that comes every few hundred, once a thousand years, etc? We've only had weather records for the last hundred or so.

    I would be hesitant to intervene at this point, simply because we do NOT have enough facts to warrant some kind of intervention. The possible side effect is enough to warrant a pause. Sure we get great sunrises and sunsets if it goes that way, but at what cost? Death to every living thing on the planet? What, exactly, is the result if we screw it up?

    Better we treat the disease, than the symptoms. Unfortunately, until the oil is dry.......we as a people will probably continue down the same path. Brazil had the right idea. Too bad other western nations can't see that, or refuse to go that route.


    In a black and white picture....there's a lot of grey junk
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  •  07-31-2006, 6:55 PM 2633 in reply to 2631

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    I heard an interesting Michael Savage rant on the radio today.  He was playing clips by a scientist who was giving evidence that this sort of warming has happened multiple times throughout history, and saying that even if we were possibly exacerbating it, we were not causing it.  Michael (the Savage Wiener) then commented that he thinks the liberal preoccupation with global warming is just a symptom of liberals' rampant narcissism.  "They think they cause everything and are behind everything.  They can't think of a greater force in the universe than themselves.  And they are always at fault.  It isn't the terrorists' fault that they're bombing people; it's ours.  It's not a global pattern of warming; it's all about us!"

    I could have sworn he was talking about Boomeritis.


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  07-31-2006, 7:52 PM 2653 in reply to 2609

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    interesting, as usual, Arthur
    the immediate future seems quite uncertain...that's fer sure

    thought i'd post a few useful links for those who like data
    (or those who say there be no data)

    http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/New_Data/ especially check out the last blip of the graph on this one...that red line going straight up
    http://gcmd.gsfc.nasa.gov/ especially check out the "Environmental Impacts" section under "Human Dimensions"
    http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/trends.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Carbon_Dioxide_400kyr.png
    http://www.globalchange.gov/
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html

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  •  07-31-2006, 8:35 PM 2657 in reply to 2633

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    Hmm...on the face of it, it seems incredible to suggest that modern humans are not having a significant effect on the global ecosystem.  However, perhaps we are utterly incapable of coming to terms with the destruction of the ecosystem.  Perhaps we're going to argue about what's happening, or what to do about it if it is happening, while the ship goes down.  (Have we hit an iceberg?  Do we have any data on that?  What is an "iceberg" really, anyway?)  Or, maybe it really is just business as usual on planet earth, and we'll freak out and undermine the ecosystem in a panicked attempt to fix something that's not actually a problem - that would be kind of funny, don't you think?

    Of course, I'm not an expert on this stuff.  Also I've been wondering lately why I pass along weird scary shit like this.  Will continue to ponder that one.

    Sounds like a science fiction story, someone said...dude, we are in a science fiction story, have been since before I showed up on this planet.

    I wish we had other planets to play with...but let's face it, that's not going to happen any time soon.

    I take transit, walk, recycle, buy local produce when I can, turn the thermostat off when I'm not home etc.

    Todd, thanks for the links.  An Inconvenient Truth is a great movie which I would recommend.  Lots of charts and shit.  Might mean something.

    arthur


    "Dwell in possibility" - Emily Dickinson
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  •  07-31-2006, 9:17 PM 2662 in reply to 2657

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    adastra:
    An Inconvenient Truth is a great movie which I would recommend.  Lots of charts and shit. 
    Might mean something.



    arthur




    Playing devils advocate.....

    Then, again, it might not.
    In a black and white picture....there's a lot of grey junk
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  •  08-01-2006, 5:37 AM 2700 in reply to 2662

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    "By altering the chemical makeup of the atmosphere..."? Really? I have a big problem with that, as if we haven't done enough already.

    So what is everyone doing to help curve global warming? Going to sit around and say "maybe its true, maybe its not" as the ice caps melt away?

    I drive to work on a HWY that has 70 MPH as a speed limit. I started today driving 55 MPH on this HWY. That IMMEDIATELY saves an additional 10 MPG in gas and decreases my CO2 emissions by how much?  And however much people hate them, I have installed the compact bulbs that save a ton of electricity in home consumption.

    As soon as Toyota comes out with a plug in Prius, I am getting one...125 MPG. Better yet, when 100% electric cars become common place, I'm there (the ones with the solar panel recharge supplement option).

    Jumpin' Jack Flash it's a gas gas gas

    Dan

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  •  08-01-2006, 6:05 AM 2703 in reply to 2700

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    You emit 19 lbs of CO2 for every gallon of gas you burn.

    Savings by decreasing speed from 70 MPH to 55 MPH is 10 MPG (with a hybrid).

    This translates into 190 lbs of CO2

    Yearly estimate is roughly 9880 lbs of CO2 saved per year. In 10 years that's 98,880 lbs of CO2 held back from the atmosphere by simply SLOWING DOWN.

    That's 1 driver.

     

    BTW, if you put nitrogen in your tires you'll increase your mileage by 3.3%, about 1.5 MPG more on the average car (thats another 2223 lbs of CO2 saved yearly per person. I hear Costco does it for you).

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  •  08-01-2006, 8:39 AM 2719 in reply to 2633

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    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    It's interesting that I'm sorta skeptical about the human cause of global warming.  Nevertheless, it seems prudent to err on the side of caution.  I find it even more interesting that "conservatives" (I would consider myself a "progressive conservative" to use Stephan Dinan's terminology) are so interested in wasting resources.  Why is it that conservatives tend to not be interested in conserving gas?

    Maybe this is not an appropriate comment for this thread, but it seems to me the most immediate concern with respect to energy policy has to do with security issues.  I really don't even think the economic impact is that much of a concern.  I have a theory that the secret policy of this administration, and maybe even a policy that is secretly passed on from one administration to the next, is to use up all the middle east oil as quickly as possible, taking away the major bargaining chip that region has to keep us engaged there.  What will that part of the world do when we are no longer buying their only marketable asset?

    As far as the effects of global warming, well I just won't be planning on buying any property below elevation 20 (above mean sea level).   A good investment strategy might be to invest in "future oceanfront property," ala Lex Luthor.  ;-)

    Peace

    Keith

    Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. -unknown
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  •  08-01-2006, 10:43 AM 2729 in reply to 2657

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    Thanks for posting the article Arthur..........an important development and good comment on our paralysis in doing anything about the problem here in the U.S.

    When I hear the blue v-memers complain and try to confuse nearly universal scientific consensus on such issues as global warming, it makes pretty clear that it is blue warring against erosion of their authority and control (or more correctly, attempting to regain the authority and control they have lost during the scientific, industrial and post-industrial revolutions)...........these attempts are extremely dangerous for mankind!

    Scientific values are premised on constantly-increasing, observable knowledge of the natural order of the univserse, that is, on evolutionary "progress."  Blue-memers already say they know everything important there is to know via their Absolutes (which only they can interpret), therefore at the core, such progress is an anthema to them and they prefer the status quo (or attempts to return to earlier forms of it) where they held sway as the high-priests of their era.

    Sure, orange has some unhealthy aspects, but it is far superior to unhealthy blue......which tries to discredit scientific findings without doing the science (for example, by over-empahsizing one scientific study which descredits global warming, when there are far over 100 to 1 that support it).

    Someone recently asked, "When did science become a liberal value?"  It did when people discovered that scientific findings could be used for moving us away from superstition and arbitrary control by the most powerful who dominate the status quo, and toward progress for individuals and mankind.

    Healthy blue and green (and higher) values are needed now to guide a healthy orange........and these are not what we are seeing from unhealthy blue that are in denial and using strategies of obfuscation and confusion, nor by green when they are driven by idealogy to the exclusion of necessary material progress and development.

    R.K. 


    "No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness that created it in the first place!"

    887 Posts on Forum #1; 222 Posts on Forum #2......Member Since 8/8/2003
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  •  08-01-2006, 1:24 PM 2748 in reply to 2729

    Re: Scientist Publishes 'Escape Route' from Global Warming

    Thanks for posting the article Arthur..........an important development and good comment on our paralysis in doing anything about the problem here in the U.S.

    Yes, we need long term solutions and visionaries. Just as important and commonly overlooked with apathy and indifference is what we can do NOW collectively. A lot of talk, no action.

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