Tuesday, Aug 19, 2008
There’s already money going into developing geoengineering plans to combat rising temps on this planet. Shell Oil has stepped forward as an early supporter. There are a myriad suggestions on how to use mega-engineering projects to combat global warming. Sulphurous gases sprayed into the upper atmosphere. Blocks some solar radiation. Billions of aluminized, hydrogen-filled balloons in the stratosphere. Huge reflector mirros in space. Send the sun’s rays away from earth. Making the oceans more carbon dioxide absorbent. Takes CO2 out of the atmosphere. The United Nations’ IPCC has already begun to catalog proposals for large scale geoengineering.
Geoengineering has two major attractions. Governments like it because it can appear simple and means taking expensive action. Does not depend on conservation or asking or forcing people to change their energy use patterns. Corporations–maybe an oil company–can like it because it means huge expenditure of government money to hire private companies and engineering experts to carry out the geoengineering. This could make military and space exploration costs look tiny. Imagine in a few years: an entire planet of TV viewers glued to their sets to see if the International Atmopsheric Control Agency and its vendors can save humankind for only a few trillion dollars, or rubles if the US is bankrupt by then.
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Here’s  a research paper outlining some of the more prominent geoengineering proposals to combat global warming. Here’s a BBC  version of what is being talked about. Here’s a CNET blog  about one suphates proposal.
As you would predict, there are geoengine-naysayers. Geoengineering could be just another big, bad attempt by man to control the complex climatic systems he doesn’t fully understand. Interestingly, the anti-geoengineering arguments often sound much like the arguments from folks who say global warming is hooey. Don’t do it, says one UCLA scientist. When some of these proposals were first made back in 1990, they faced widespread scorn. Now the media thinks they are being taken seriously. Just wait for the Congressional hearings next year. Like Alan Greenspan pretending he can manipulate the US eocnomy.
Of course, there are no current international treaties or even informal agreements about who or how or when any geoengineering could be done, or even tested. It could be like the early days of the atomic weapons race, tests going on all over the atmosphere. Sulphates vs. aluminum balloons, think of it as the gaseous Olympics.