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back to article 'Sunshade' global-cooling plan would ruin solar power

Attempts to deal with global warming by putting a particulate "sunshade" into the atmosphere would have adverse effects on solar power generation, according to a US federal boffin. Dan Murphy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) investigates a major inspiration for "sunshade" schemes, the volcanic …

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Woah, hang on a second

Who exactly is planning to put this 'layer' into the atmosphere? Surely any such thing would need to be approved by the whole world before being deployed.

Is this something that's genuinely being developed or just a theory? If it's real then I personally would like to see some details before they potentially screw up my planet with it.

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Who would have ever thought that..

That something intended to stop the sun's rays reaching the earth could possibly have such an affect on solar panels. This man is a genius.

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Thumb Up

<title>

Make the 'sun shade' a giant solar pannel, problem solved,

Jobs a good 'en

Copyright Me 2009

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So what you're saying

is we need a dependable source of power like Nuclear that'll run without the need for air or sunlight for a very long time and (thanks to developments mentioned in El Reg) while producing less waste.

Then we need to briefly block out the sun, creating a biblical scale event that would have the Vatican trying really hard to find something on a bigger scale (outside of Genesis).

And THEN we can sit back and relax with lovely cold weather?

Would this not be more useful over hurricane prone areas- keeping the thermal differentials down as far as possible would rob them of a lot of their power.

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Anonymous Coward

Clearly the answer

Clearly we need nanomachines. They'll solve all our power problems.

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Plants...

Solar energy to one side, what about plants? You can give a plant as much or as little nutrients as you like, but the only real plant food is sunlight. The amount and intensity of that sunlight determines how effectively a plant can process the nutrients given to it. In other words if you dump a load of high quality nutrients into the soil at the base of a plant, if the sunlight is not reliable then the plant will not be capable of processing the nutrients and will die.

A sunshade isn't entirely a bad idea, but is best implemented in outer-space, not through particulate insulation in the atmosphere. It's a lot easier to reverse the effects of a device in outer-space than it is to clean up man-made pollution in the atmosphere.

As is often the way with humans, they think of a 'great idea' to resolve a problem but neglect to consider fundamental consequences.

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Joke

So is that a case of Murphy's law?

I bet there are at least 12 posts before mine saying the same thing :)

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Paris Hilton

Isn't it a bit dim?

There's this enormous nuclear fusion reactor safely located 93 million miles from us, chucking out this enormous amount of energy for as long as you like, which we could use for so many things, and the enormous collective wisdom of the human race decides the best thing to do is ... have I got this right? ... block out that enormous amount of free energy coming at us for nothing ... so we can burn more fossil fuels down here, clogging up the atmosphere with toxins. That's just brilliant! Like Paris

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Private sector funding

No government is going to want to stump up the money for this, and no sane person is going to want to pay more tax for it so the obvious place to look, as with everything from healthcare to transport, is the private sector.

We could be only a few years away from having the sky over London sponsored (and branded) by McDonald's (a ghastly monstrous big 'M' projected subtly onto the floating particulates), with the rest of the world divvied up between the likes of Coca Cola, Nestle and Nike.

Hang on, no, I'm only kidding... it would never work really! That's as dumb an idea as expecting people to pay through the nose for plastic bottles of water when they can obtain perfectly clean and drinkable water from the tap...

We're doomed!

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The Simpsons

Didn't Mr Burns already come up with this plan? Albeit to make money. And then he got shot. By a baby. What was my point again?

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ian
Bronze badge

Nuclear winter?

Let's have a lovely nuclear war! That'll solve the problem.

It's a bit of "The House That Jack Built", innit.

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Raise the CO₂

@Plants...

By Craig Posted Thursday 12th March 2009 15:04 GMT

No need to worry about the plants. Raise the CO₂ levels to the 700–800PPM (presently about 380PPM) range, and plant yields would rise by 25–60%, as they can better use nutrients and sunlight.

That should please the anthropogenic global warning scare-mongers.

cheers

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... and Arthur C. Clarke rolls in his grave

Isn't it obvious that the sunshade should be kept *outside* the atmosphere? I'm no physicist, but wouldn't some of the diffuse light from such a shade be deflected away from earth due to angle of incidence anyway (reducing the initial shade requirement)?

Also, can't help thinking that it'd be easier to spiral a non-atmospheric shade off into the sun (or burn it up on reentry) than it would be to depollute the atmosphere (or oceans) of aerosols... I mean global warming is an issue, but it's just one class of the more general problem of *pollution*. (Eg. a food supply full of mercury will leave us with significant problems even if we don't cover the planet in hot water.) So polluting the atmosphere to address warming seems to ignore the one thing we've learnt from all the Great Ideas of the past, which is that their most remarkable consequences were rarely intentional. (Cane toads anyone?)

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Re: Raise the CO₂

Thanks for the chuckle Gary!

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Boffin

RE: The Simpsons

Neil, as you sure know *everything* has been done on the Simpsons already. Everything.

Thing is, I would rather wait for the next volcano to take care of the thing rather than to invest gazillions into some far-fetched Sci-Fi wet dream. But if Mr Boffin got his publicity now I guess it's all cream and nipples.

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Totally stupid idea.

The idea of using a 'sunshade' is probably the most stupid idea that has been proposed by man to date. Counter productive, will likely have unintended results, not easily reversible, in short: a really, really bad idea.

I do hope that some sort of reason starts to take effect soon. The fact that 'man made global warming' has not even been remotely proven is an important factor.

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Bah

Isn't it even *more* obvious that no matter where you put your sunshade, the proper place for the solar panels is in solar orbit?

Solar panels in California subject to

a) vagiaries of vulcanism (ibid)

2) Space blanket sunshielding (ibid)

$) more than a few hours of something called "night", in which little sun shines on the concentrators due to inconvenient, Californian Legislation-proof spinning of the planet.

Solar panels in solar orbit subject to

a) Meteor strikes

2) Alien infestation

$) Nothing else that cannot be easily engineered around with off-the-shelf-today technology. No unobtanium or Star Trek Bendy Physics needed.

Powersats sending back mighty beams of plentiful cheap healthy microwaves that can be easily turned into electricity is the way to go.

Then you can have your sunshade and heat it.

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Anonymous Coward

A primary reason to shift to any kind of solar energy

is because, sooner or later, oil will be too expensive to burn.

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Dumbest idea ever

One of the biggest causes of climate is water in the atmosphere causing differential heating/cooling which results in high/low pressure which causes big winds.

Any permanent umbrella would help to make a permanent hurricane factory.

And isn't a lot of the earth's heat due to self heating from the core's radioactivity and friction? If so, then it seems a bit dodgy to wrap us up in a blanket.

Besides building then launching all those particle seeders is going to generate a whole lot of CO2.

It really is hard to see any real benefit except for the venture capitalists.

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Plan B

Quick, back to lobbing rusty ELV motors in the Atlantic!

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Regitard

Change the name to The Regitard. You fail to consider 'the other problem' with a failure to move away from fossil fuels (other than their depletion). The CO2. It will still acidify the oceans...

You can't just put a sun-shade up and forget about reducing CO2. You have to reduce CO2 anyway for several reasons. So, as one of the ways to do that is to use solar, setting up something that reduces solar's ability to produce power and thereby solar's ability to assist with getting off carbon-based fossil fuels is COMPLETELY nonsensical.

It is hilarious when a moron thinking they have 'cracked it' makes a dick out of themselves by squitting out in public, a brain-turd such as this article.

Must cut CO2.

Solar will help. It will help more if we don't block the sun. Idea of putting up a giant solar panel to block the sun is amusing though. There is a hypoithetical problem w solar BTW. Black absorbs heat best. So panels are black. If we cover the world with black stuff, it gets hotter. Humans need to make everything that isn't generating power WHITE!... White roads. White roofs... Building stuff should only be non-white if it's generating solar power or reducing the need for heating energy or (add any number of jokes here). Roofs that change colour (white in summer, black in winter) would be a GREAT way for humanity to save energy. My idea. Simple, but effective. Will work. Much cheaper/faster to do than making every roof a solar roof. More efficient by far.

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Re: Plants

The article noted (but didn't emphasise) that the total solar energy input dropped by only 3% (so that's the figure that a plant would care about) but made "diffuse" a whacking 20% so that concentrating (focussing) solar power plants couldn't use it. (Presumably that's a consequence of the light no longer coming from a point source so it is impossible to focus onto a point target.)

It *is* a large reduction, and perhaps an argument against relying too much on that particular form of solar power generation. It is not good if your national electricity supply dips by 10-20% for a few years every time a big volcano blows its top.

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Waiting for the big "oops"

Here we are trying to think of ways to clean up our atmosphere and this brainwave figures we ought to muck it up even more?

Seems it would be a terribly difficult fix if they miscalculated.

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At last!

We now know the official name for the university of the bleedin' obvious!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration!

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