Tuesday, September 7, 2010
David Keith, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy, has proposed releasing engineered nano-sized discs in the earth’s atmosphere to “offset global warming”- and that for just $ 1 billion of your taxpayer-money annually.
“You could manipulate the Earth’s climate at large scale for a cost that’s of the order of $1 billion a year. It sounds like a lot of money, but compared to the costs of managing other environmental problems or climate change, that is peanuts.”, Keith told Nanowerk News.
Keith also made clear that mentioning the annual cost is not necessarily an argument pro or con, but an “indication” rather, “that risk, not cost, will be the deciding issue.”
Until now, scientists have mainly looked at injecting the volcano-mimicking sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere as a way to “get the maximum cooling benefit.” This new nano-particle proposal of spraying “levitating” engineered nano-particles in the atmosphere might have serious drawbacks, Keith acknowledges:
“A downside of both these new ideas is they would do something that nature has never seen before. It’s easier to think of new ideas than to understand their effectiveness and environmental risks.”
On the upside, Keith says:
“(…) the distribution of engineered nano-particles above the Earth could be more controlled and less likely to harm the planet’s protective ozone layer.”
The risks that Keith is willing to take with the earth is illustrated by a speech he gave for TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design). Other speakers for TED have included Al Gore, Hans Rosling and Sir Ken Robinson:
“We could make the particles migrate to over the poles (…) which would have minimal bad impacts in the mid part of the planet, where we live, and do the maximum job of what we might need to do which is cooling the poles in case of planetary emergency, if you like.”
“The one thing about this”, Keith states, “is that it gives us extraordinary leverage, this.. this improved science and engineering will- whether we like it or not- give us more and more leverage to affect the planet, to control the planet, to give us weather and climate control- not because we plan it, not because we want it, just because science delivers it to us bit by bit. With better knowledge of the way the system works and better engineering tools to affect it.”
Control of the planet, no less, and at a minimal expense for the taxpayer- if you call $ 1 billion a year minimal.
This article was posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm