back to article Can climate change be changed back again? Maybe, say boffins

Climate boffins now reckon that solar geoengineering could be done safely by targeting specific regions. Sunset in the Arctic Solar geoengineering basically works by reflecting sunshine back into space, thereby offsetting global warming. Scientists would pump aerosols into the stratosphere or create low altitude marine clouds …

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Anonymous Coward

Good news everyone!

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Happy

"Of course, because the greenhouse gasses are still building up, it takes more and more ice each time, thus solving the problem once and for all."

"But..."

"ONCE AND FOR ALL!!"

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Mushroom

Careful now!

Careful now! Make sure you don't set off an ice age. That would suck.

Nuclear winter icon, for obvious reasons.

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Pint

Re: Careful now!

Mankind *deliberately* messing around with climate, on a full-on global scale?

C'mon: Surely nothing could go wrong with *that*?

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Alert

Re: Careful now!

You mean burning fossil fuels, clearing forests, genetically engineering crops *isn't* deliberate?

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Mushroom

Re: Nigel 11

Well, not the end result. The short term or mid term result is deliberate. It's the end result that gets you in... well, the "end". Unless those aiming for short term goals at the risk of complete catastrophe are aiming for a long term catastrophe.

Nuclear Explosion, because they had unintended long term results too.

PS, no comments on GW here, just the general "eating all the fish in the pond leaves you with no fish" warning. :P

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""We have to expect the unexpected," Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science said."

Bad idea. If you expect the unexpected something expected will show up instead and that'll be the last thing you expect.

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Pint

Ah, but there is expected unexpecteds, expected expecteds, and unexpected unexpected...

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Coat

expect the unexpected

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition....

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Re: expect the unexpected

Does that mean we have to expect the Spanish Inquisition?

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Trollface

Re: expect the unexpected

"Does that mean we have to expect the Spanish Inquisition?"

No, but you may if you want to.

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I tried expecting the unexpected once

but nothing happened. I certainly didn't expect that.

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Coat

Re: I tried expecting the unexpected once

You need to lower your expectations....

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Re: Inquisition....

I thought it was the Spammish Repetition?

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Thumb Down

Even if it did work...

... you'd have to constantly use it more and more to offset the constant rise in CO2 and eventually it WOULD become a problem in its own right. For example, if you reflect enough sunlight back into space then plants and algae don't photosynthesize as much and so don't pull as much CO2 out of the atmosphere. Geoengineering is just some 1950s style engineering quick fix with the same naive assumption of that era than we can engineer our way out of every problem. Sorry , life isn't that simple.

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Re: Even if it did work...

The issue with CO2 concentrations and global warming as presented by IPCC are positive feedback loops. If you maintain the temperature, even as the CO2 concentrations increase, then positive feedback loops don't occur - it's the position of your own camp. Familiarize yourself with it. Note that negative feedback loops tied to CO2 concentrations still take place, making ocean acidification less of an issue. As to sustaining biosphere with higher CO2 levels, since you guys are so fond of charts, here's one: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/Phanerozoic_Carbon_Dioxide.png We're increasing our CO2 concentration at a rate of 1ppmv/year. Count for yourself how long that would take.

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WTF?

Re: Even if it did work...

"it's the position of your own camp."

FYI I'm not part of any camp , I make up my own mind rather than get into silly religious style wars about it.

"http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/Phanerozoic_Carbon_Dioxide.png We're increasing our CO2 concentration at a rate of 1ppmv/year. Count for yourself how long that would take."

Who cares? Earths past is irrelevant , its the future that matters and there is no way human civilisation as it is today could exist in the sort of hothouse enviroment that existed 500m years ago. So I'm afraid using the "Look! It was worse in the past so we're not really doing anything different!" argument is specious and just a little bit childish.

Lets get this straight - there is NO danger to earth from what we're doing. Its survived 4 billion years being hit by asteroids and all sorts of climate cycles so it'll survive us. The danger is to us! If we fuck up our enviroment WE will be the ones who suffer. Or more specifically following generations as most people reading this will probably be dead before anything really bad on a global scale happens.

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Eldorado

Why is this article illustrated with a still from the title sequence of failed 90's soap, Eldorado?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ8YThsr49g

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Re: Eldorado

Because if global warming kicks in - that's what Eastenders will look like?

Oh the humanity ......

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Boffin

Hope there model is *very* complete

Given the trouble people seem to have when it comes to modelling the poles.

Now. What sort of *bill* are we talking about?

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Happy

Re: Hope there model is *very* complete

Why would you want to model the poles? Just go down to Lidl and see them for yourself.

Sorry.

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Go

Re: Hope there model is *very* complete

Why the hell would Poles want to go to Lidl; it's full of unemployed people!

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Anonymous Coward

Every Lidl helps.

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... and if current global warming theory is wrong and we cool our planet down too much.

Ah well... I guess I can look forward to Britain hosting the Winter Olympics... Or maybe even Jamaica.

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Re: ... and if current global warming theory is wrong and we cool our planet down too much.

Exactly my thoughts.

Problem: We might be influencing the climate through emissions etc

Solution: Let's deliberately mess with the climate

The only thing that this will definitely achieve is an end to the debate on whether or not man is influencing the climate in any great manner. Of course, it won't answer whether we were beforehand, but we definitely will have if we start tinkering.

There were a lot of conspiracy loons worrying about the LHC destroying the earth. Won't seem nearly as crazy if they were to oppose the very idea of this, hell I'd probably join them.

Still, at least they're not saying that they plan to do it.

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Re: ... and if current global warming theory is wrong and we cool our planet down too much.

"The only thing that this will definitely achieve is an end to the debate on whether or not man is influencing the climate in any great manner."

No it won't. Geo-engineering is based on the same kind of models that show we are influencing the climate through greenhouse gas emissions. If the evidence from the models isn't good enough to end the debate on one, it can't be good enough for the other either.

For example, if these mad scientists do start a geo-engineering scheme and the world starts cooling, how do you prove the cooling is due to the geo-engineering and not a coincidence due to natural causes?

Consider that following predictions in the 80s that the world would warm due to human emissions the world has warmed, but a lot of people are unconvinced and think it might have just been a coincidence due to natural causes.

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Re: ... and if current global warming theory is wrong and we cool our planet down too much.

I think you missed my point...

At the moment we might be influencing the climate.

If we fuck with the climate, then the one thing we can say for sure is that we are influencing the climate. If we fill the sky with clouds (for example) and cooling occurs, on the balance of probability it's fair to say we probably were responsible. You could, of course, argue about whether those clouds actually appeared as the result of our efforts, or some major coincidence, but I know which way I'd swing.

Consider that following predictions in the 80s that the world would warm due to human emissions the world has warmed, but a lot of people are unconvinced and think it might have just been a coincidence due to natural causes.

It could well be natural causes, it could also be due to human emissions. In the absence of strong evidence for the latter, however, fucking with the climate is a truly horrific idea. It's also not entirely beyond the realms of possibility that someone saw a warming trend, predicted things would warm further and decided to pin it on human emissions (whether by mistake, or with some other agenda) just as it's possible they were right and it is emissions. What's still lacking is reasonable debate on the subject, there's just too many entrenched views on either side. I'm becoming increasingly convinced the only way we're ever going to know now is when the worst happens (whether because warmists were right, or because they do decide to geo-engineer and fuck everything up).

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Re: ... and if current global warming theory is wrong and we cool our planet down too much.

At least their bobsled team will be ready!

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@Ben Tasker

He didn't miss it, he deliberately ignored it. NomNomNom is the High Inquisitor for AGW. If it ain't in his bible, it doesn't exist and any who speak words not in his bible are a demon spawn who needs to be purged.

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Anonymous Coward

Geo-engineering? The arrogance of the assumption that we, as a people, can be sure of the results and the consequences of such actions beggars belief. Sorry, but it borders on lunacy and is the wrong side of that fine line between genius and madness.

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Coat

And

we'll burn at the stake anyone who disagrees with us

I'll get my coat because I dont want to live in the 16th century anymore

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Coat

My thoughts too, still there is this "perhaps" in the header, the ever forgiving word, in the mouth of boffins. Planting trees, I suppose, is geoengineering too, and I am well with that. But when it comes to really large scale stuff, the Soviet Union comes to my mind, they tried to achieve very likable results in Siberia and elsewhere but the result was always a complete disaster. Geoengineering Mars could be more interesting as it cannot get worse. (I think).

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Joke

"Geoengineering Mars could be more interesting as it cannot get worse. (I think)."

So you really believe that there is anything that mankind *can't* make worse?

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Linux

Hands off Futurama

The giant Icecube has been keeping the world cooler for the last 20 years, shame the north one is nearly all gone. We can start on the south one next year! not nice for the penguin though

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I shouldn't think climate skeptics will have a problem with changing the climate through geo-engineering.

After-all the climate has changed in the past long before geo-engineering even existed and supposedly that means any changes man causes are irrelevant.

Also of course claims that geo-engineering is dangerous are pure chicken little alarmism. The fact is it hasn't been 100% proven that geo-engineering will even alter the climate in any perceivable way. It's just guesswork by academics based on "theories and models". Therefore there's no cause for concern that geo-engineering is dangerous and no reason to stop them getting on with it if they want.

And even if geo-engineering is found eventually to cause climate change, it could just as well be a good thing! So what's the problem?

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Anonymous Coward

Er Nom...I take it you forgot to use the joke or troll icon?

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I am making a serious point through sarcasm. The non-sarcastic mode would be:

How can climate skeptics be worried about proposed geo-engineering schemes such as these when they are so calm about a much larger and uncontrolled CO2 based geo-engineering experiment that is already happening?

I mean sure they can, but my "there's an inconsistency" detector is beeping.

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Anonymous Coward

To Nom

Your straw man is on fire. I assume you are aware of parts of the world flooding (its normal). Now most of us (who dont blame a deity) say it is natural, but that doesnt mean I am happy to see people intentionally flood or drain water sources.

If you seriously believe that about skeptics then you further my belief that you have no idea what your talking about. A real skeptic wants the truth. However a cult will label any non-believer a skeptic regardless of the real position.

So your cult labels us skeptics and tells you we are morons who believe the rubbish you spouted. You are wrong (no offence but the point is made). So hopefully you will accept there are skeptics who aint deniers, they are realists. And we realistically dont want cults ruining the country or the world because their deity (spoken by prophets and profit) insist the end is nigh.

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Re: To Nom

"Your straw man is on fire."

Not at all, a popular argument by climate skeptics is that "climate change happens all the time, it's normal" as if that is some kind of argument against human caused climate change. It's not a strawman to point this out is it?

As for your flood example, that's an impact not a cause. The propre analogy with regard to floods in this case is that there's no evidence geo-engineering will cause more floods. Sounding alarm about potential impacts from geo-engineering while dismissing potential impacts from emissions is inconsistent. I see skeptics do it anyway.

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Re: To Nom

There's a big difference between our emissions which might be causing climate change and deliberately doing something that we believe will cause climate change.

Pumping aerosols into the atmosphere deliberately.... couldn't possibly go wrong.

It's quite possible to believe that man can change the climate whilst also believing that we currently aren't (or that greater evidence is needed). We know we could change the climate by way of nuclear winter (not that we particularly want to), so it's no great stretch to believe would could also do it through (potentially) less destructive methods.

It's quite possible that we do lack the ability to change the climate (ignoring nuking things), but as we don't know what the effect of any attempts will be it would be absolutely mental to try.

So yeah, I agree, your strawman is ablaze

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Anonymous Coward

Re: To Nom

So lets look at the skeptic point of view (realist not denialist) there is no conclusive evidence beyond doubt that it is us, and even less evidence of how much is us if it is at all. I say this accepting the possibility of MMCC while holding as much belief in it as a deity (I dont). That is purely down to proof and evidence. The only proof and evidence we conclusively have is what you claim is the skeptic view you stated of "climate change happens all the time, it's normal". I hope MMCC believers accept this too otherwise they are making stuff up outright.

So based on proof and evidence there is a claim that we can artificially cool the climate (this topic) while having little to no evidence of what is happening to the climate. Simply if this is a natural or outside effect which could change at any point then we may cause too much cooling while being clueless. Look at the many missing pieces coming to light which revise down the models greatly.

In short you cant fix a problem until you know what the problem is. If you treat the symptoms you may make the problem worse or disguise it.

If we accept the cult of the MMCC the question is who's figures do we use? So far the hockey stick and similarly revised up figures are pushed as proof. The actual records seem to suggest a steady and normal temperature rise, especially when not using cherry picked information. This could still turn out to be bad in the long run (or maybe even good). So while the alarmist graphs seem to be constantly revised down, such geo-engineering as this surely wants to assume a very revised down graph which we can incrementally change for safety.

Yet doing that act assumes that a) a problem exists and b) it would be a problem. Both are huge assumptions which unfortunately suffer from cults of believers and non-believers overshadowing science.

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But what happens if

We destroy the whole economic base of civilisation, plunge the world into a dark age, starve millions to death, get the CO2 levels down and then discover it wasn't CO2 after all and geo-engineering would have had a fraction of the human cost and actually worked...

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Alert

Re: But what happens if

It's actually quite possible that the interglacial period during which humankind developed civilisation wold naturally have come to an end a couple of hundred years ago, or a few thousand ... and it's us burning fossil fuels, or us burning forests for agriculture, that is the reason we're not fighting the next ice age. But if we over-do it, the ice goes away altogether, and that's also a bad thing.

We don't know what we're doing. We're trampling on an unstable natural system. The one thing we can be sure of is than an interglacial period is a global climate system NOT in long-term stable equilibrium. "Stable" is either an ice age, or an ice-free planet. One is too cold for humanity, and the other is too hot.

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Devil

Cant apply corrective action w/out complete understanding of what happened in the first place

Folks,

All this sounds good in theory but I've spent enough time in the process control business and if you want to correct overshoot you have to apply the corrections in exactly the right way or your system goes completely unstable.

We can't even agree on what is causing global warming so therefore we cannot agree on what is the equal but opposite action required to reverse it's affects.

Chances are that putting enormous sheets of mirrored mylar at low eath orbit to reduce incoming solar radiation could cause WAY more problems than doing nothing at all.

We do know that weather operates on the principle of temperature differential and large differentials have the most energy. We are only beginning to understand what happens at the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

Can anyone say "Super Hurricane"?????

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Regional?

If it's regional then we can screw up places where poor people live and keep the Range Rover?

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Anonymous Coward

what climate change

pretty cold here so why make it any colder?

that will s***w up the jet-stream once and for all...

maybe we should remember, that the models are incomplete (and we know all about coding errors don't we?) and the saying:

"an infinite number of experiments will never prove (you) right, it takes only one to prove (you) wrong"

(yep I'm heading back under the duvet - until the next Solar Maxima)

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Happy

Wins for me -

Close the loop, get it under control. The next problem after that would be how long will the nice toasty warm Sun last?

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Facepalm

What could possibly go wrong?

Was going to say "if it ain't broke don't fix it", but...

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These People Are Nuts

Firstly, there is zero evidence that there is any significant man mad climate change at all. Secondly, doing insane crap like this is likely to cause massive problems in its own right, orders of magnitude worse than any perceived problems we might have today.

As mentioned by another commenter, the sheer arrogance of these people is astounding. Thinking they can manipulate a planetary eco-system on such a grand scale without any adverse affects whatsoever and expecting it to behave exactly as they predict is bat shit insane.

For fucks sake, the computer models that they use to try and predict Earths existing climate variations don't even come close to working, yet they think they understand enough to do shit like this?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Man Mad Climate Change

Whether it exists or not, you are absolutely right. Bat-shit insane.

What's insane about bat shit? Why should shit fly off a shovel? What's angry about ape shit? How about some accurate day to day global weather forecasting? --- and other stuff they (whoever they are) should find answers to before trying anything like this.

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