back to article 'Giving geo-engineering to this US govt is like giving a child a loaded gun'

An official US government report just has recommended that further research should be carried out into various methods of "geoengineering" the climate so as to combat global warming. But one of its authors disagrees with himself, saying that giving such technology to the current US leadership would be "like giving a loaded gun …

  1. Filippo

    Well, of course deploying this sort of tech would be a stupendously bad idea. It's a complete unknown; all we have are models that keep being proven inaccurate at best, and biased for political reasons at worst.

    That's exactly the reason why *doing research* on it, on the other hand, is a very good idea. *If and when* it turns out that putting mirrors in space is actually what we need, I'd really like for the tech to have already been developed and tested.

    There is one other MAJOR problem. Any mirror system in space that's big enough to affect the weather is automatically a terrifying WMD. And weaponisation of space is forbidden by international treaty. I'm sure that there are hidden weapons up there, but this wouldn't be something you can hide. If the USA tried to do something like this, even a comparatively small-scale experiment, Russia, China and everyone else would (with pretty good reasons) raise hell about it.

    1. NomNomNom

      "Well, of course deploying this sort of tech would be a stupendously bad idea. It's a complete unknown; all we have are models that keep being proven inaccurate at best, and biased for political reasons at worst."

      It's funny how "unknowns" and "inaccurate models" are used as a justification to CONTINUE uncontrolled CO2 emissions.

      But as soon as it comes to any other subject (geo-engineering or medicine for example) "unknowns" and "inaccurate models" are cited as a reason to AVOID the action in question.

      Wonder why there is such a wildly different approach. One that assumes it is fine until proven dangerous, the other that it is a crazy idea until proven safe.

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Unknown Inaccurate Models

        So the real issue in this is that the tech is not yet developed and the models are untested? Fine, let's terraform Mars. That way, we will know that the tech works and how well. As a bonus, we will have some additional real estate with which to play.

  2. John 110
    Meh

    Would be like...

    "like giving a loaded gun to a child …"

    Just a normal day in the USA then...

  3. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    Geoengineering, brought to you by the same maniacs who destroyed land for wind and solar. Now offering you a new and green way to be taxed- for sunlight.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh let them do it, Ice sheets across USA, Europe / Russia and China would solve a lot of the worlds problems.

    Just let me move to some nice place on the equator with a tall non volcanic mountain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Never mind that...

      Just let me move to some nice place on the equator with a tall swedish blonde...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Never mind that...

        For some value of Swedish blonde that is non-volcanic?

      3. Captain DaFt

        Re: Never mind that...

        "Just let me move to some nice place on the equator with a tall swedish blonde..."

        Hm... I'd prefer a local, raven haired Polynesian girl.

        A lot less likely to complain, "Don't touch me! I'm so sunburned!

  5. Bunbury

    Geoengineering is cheap and quick

    says the report, at least compared to burying the CO2/ reducing CO2 production*. So it seems sensible to explore the possibilities and do the technology development.

    But of course we should all scourge ourselves and do this the eco friendly way, it seems.

    * slightly disappointed not to see an option to turn it into diamonds and oxygen. Or to bury it at sufficient depth that the CO2 would be solid. They've obviously not had enough madmen on the project.

  6. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Alert

    Sounds familiar

    A giant mirror in spaaace? Where have I heard of that before? And where's the 007 icon when you need it?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Sounds familiar

      Come on. Diamonds are forever you know.

  7. Ilmarinen
    Devil

    Oh Goody...

    Sounds like Geoengineering will need HUGE subsidies - Where do I sign up for my slice??

  8. Curly4

    Who else can you trust?

    The climate is changing whether we want it to or not. With all that Obama has done to improve the US economy and the positive results that his efforts have had who else would or could one trust? Would or could trust those conservatives, climate deniers who put the world in the economic problems that it is just now coming out of? Give Obama and other like minded world leaders the authority (and budget) to do what needs to be done.

    1. Dan Paul

      Re: Who else can you trust?

      Not Obama, or any other Green AGW fool. They want us all in the cold and dark living in huts with mud floors and wearing hairshirts, paying their artificial carbon taxes.

      The "economy" would be alot better off if conservatives ran it because they would not have printed us into 20 TRILLION dollars of debt. That's American OIL and the resulting low cost of gasoline that is helping to bring the US out of a depression, not "green hot air". The democrats have stymied every bill that republicans have ever offered and Obama can't even begin to be honest or transparent about his agenda. He'd rather veto even bipartisan legislation and manipulate his cabinet to regulate any republican successes into oblivion.

      1. tesmith47

        Re: Who else can you trust?

        my dear Dan, you might be a really good , rational person, but your post make you seem like a RAVING LUNATIC

      2. tony2heads

        @Dan Paul

        Mud huts -LUXURY. Thing of all that thatch you would have to cut.

        They would have you in a cave rubbing stick together, and those hairs had better not be from an animal!

  9. john devoy

    Too late

    It is now too late to stop the damage from climate change, the USA preferred to argue about causes rather than solutions. While we try to limit the effects we should be looking at new ways of dealing with hurricanes/floods and droughts.

  10. lucki bstard

    Sounds like a win-win for the US - Planet overheating and overseas terrorists, fix both problems by dropping a dirty nuclear bomb on them.

    - Cools the planet down

    - Nukes the terrorists

    Presidents political party re-elected!

    1. Jes.e

      "Sounds like a win-win for the US - Planet overheating and overseas terrorists, fix both problems by dropping a dirty nuclear bomb on them.

      - Cools the planet down

      - Nukes the terrorists

      Presidents political party re-elected!"

      Not a good plan.

      Seeing us USA'ians make up 10% of the world's population but are using over 25% of the resources we should nuke ourselves.

      You get the nuclear winter, eliminate our planetary resource usage, the terrorists disband due to lack of enemy, AND we all go up to live with Jesus!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad Title

    The title of the article doesn't seem to jive with the content. The prof's comments seem to imply he thinks the senators that don't believe in man made global warming (mostly Republicans) are the crazy ones that shouldn't be allowed to tinker with the climate rather than Obama. Well, them specifically and anyone else that can't be bothered with a reasoned debate. Obama has usually been all too willing to try compromise and debate.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Bad Title

      I agree, the title is a bit of a troll. The actual source material has a low opinion of all politicians:

      "With the present state of leadership (and not just in the United States) ..."

      Anyway, if you gave Obama a gun he'd probably try to ban it. (Ducks for cover...)

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Bad Title

      Yes, yes, rather let Sarah Palin do engineering, "A" as in Alaska is after all closer to "E" like engineering than "K".

  12. moiety

    "Other amendments specifying that it is caused by humans failed to win the necessary majority."

    That's probably because the congresscritters are being paid by people who are making lots of money by accelerating the process.

  13. The Dude

    Investment opportunities...

    ...at least as good as AlGore's cap'n'trade scheme.

  14. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Bah

    If Barak Obama needed congressional approval to buy lunch, he would starve to death. There is no way in the world any geo-engineering proposal will make it through the US Congress before ex-President Obama is off on the rubber-chicken circuit, giving speeches and opening libraries.

  15. bigman

    The article seems to point more towards the "administration' than Obama (didn't mention him by name). I really think the comments may be referring to the United States government overall, probably more specifically the Republicans that have unscientific based ideas on global warming and are more likely to do things based on emotion and bombast. But that's not as much of an attention grabbing headline as putting Obama there as the goat.

    1. John 104

      @bigman

      Silly conservatives. How dare they ask for scientific method instead of wild declarations based on a few decades worth of manipulated figures. The whole problem with this agenda is that the politicians and their lackey bureaucrat/scientists throw terms like " settled science" around when the "facts" that they are spouting are only unproven theory at best.

      It's a money game, plain and simple. The whole thing sickens me, mostly because its my money...

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: @John 104

        Conservatives are to scientific methods like fish are to bicycles.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @John 104

          @ Someone Else

          Politicians are to scientific methods like fish are to bicycles.

          FIFY

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep, agreed. The relationship is very uncertain

    Yep. The relationship between human inputs and climatic response is very uncertain.

    Hmmm...

    .

    .

    .

    LOL. Don't panic. Not a "denier". Just putting that out there because it's amusing.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Devil

      Re: Yep, agreed. The relationship is very uncertain

      This is like the hysterical wife trope from John Q..

      OMG we're all going to DIE. You must do something. You must do something..

      No. No. No. You can't do anything. If you do something it will be too dangerous.

  17. William Donelson
    FAIL

    What I don't get is why people in Florida still vote Republican...

    What I don't get is why people in Florida still vote Republican...

    see graphic:

    http://gyazo.com/dcd233859a1465791cf1c7128eb79756

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What I don't get is why people in Florida still vote Republican...

      that graphic is a bit alarmist. 5m is a huge increase (especially since it would only take about 2m to swamp many of the cities on the east coast). regardless, since the sea level has been rising at around 3mm a year recently, florida still has a thousand or so years to build sufficient levees (and historically republicans have had few objections to building walls).

    2. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: What I don't get is why people in Florida still vote Republican...

      What I don't understand is why Florida is still allowed to vote?

      Just do a news search on Florida.. you'll see....

    3. kiwimuso
      Joke

      Re: What I don't get is why people in Florida still vote Republican...

      Do you think that 5 metres will be enough?

  18. Graham Marsden
    Holmes

    How did I know...

    ... before I even got down below the massive image that pushes everything else "below the fold" that the byline would say "Lewis Page"...?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How did I know...

      @ Graham Marsden

      Buggered if I know. Maybe you have a thing for Lewis?

  19. John Savard Silver badge

    Survival First

    While it's true we should be converting to nuclear energy - a way to reduce our carbon footprint without making huge sacrifices in our energy use - even that isn't happening soon enough.

    Giving a loaded gun to a child, if that's what the child needs to survive, is not always a bad thing; it may be the least bad alternative left.

  20. Little Mouse

    Tackling the symptoms, not the cause

    One big problem with geoengineering is that when you eventually stop doing it the global climate will revert back to non-geoengineered defaults very quickly indeed, causing far more damage than if you'd let things run their 'natural' course over several decades.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tackling the symptoms, not the cause

      That is always assuming they can stop the geo-engineering which could be rather difficult if your control centre is under a few hundred metres of ice.

    2. NomNomNom

      Re: Tackling the symptoms, not the cause

      I think that's the gist of what the scientist was saying. Geo-engineering projects need to be sustained in the longterm. Which means it all goes to shit if some crazy future administration decides it doesn't believe in the science anymore and cancels the project.

  21. Bucky 2

    Be Excellent to Each Other

    Surveys of public opinion in recent times have shown solid majority support for the idea that human activity is a cause of climate change, but only a minority holding the opinion that climate change is caused entirely or mostly by human activity.

    Such surveys always remind me of the beginning of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, where they're doing their History homework by sitting on the curb in front of Circle K and asking passers-by questions about historical figures.

  22. tekHedd

    reality-based?

    "In the United States, can we actually have a reality-based, serious deliberative process about anything anymore?"

    No. Obviously. Where have you been for the last 10 years?

  23. silent_count

    Unintended consequences

    Even if $GOVERNMENT, informed by the best scientific knowledge available, made a well intentioned effort at geo-engineering, I'm not convinced it would turn out well.

    Look at how many times an foreign species has been introduced and caused more harm than whatever problem their introduction was intended to solve.

    Mine's the one with the cane toad in the pocket.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Unintended consequences

      "Even if $GOVERNMENT, informed by the best scientific knowledge available, made a well intentioned effort at geo-engineering, I'm not convinced it would turn out well."

      Even if a US Govt. did decide to launch a huge space mirror to cool down the USA, how is that really going to help the rest of the world? If it's not in a geostationary orbit, what happens if cooling affects other countries in bad ways? Do they get to shoot it down?

      Any geoengineering project needs to be a world wide project, or at least have ALL the big players on board. And we all know just how long those negotiations will take.

  24. petec

    Sigh

    http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/erupting_volcanoes.html

    Currently there are 41 actively erupting volcanoes on earth. Our combined CO2 emissions and whatever else, does not even compare to what the volcanoes chuck into the seas and air.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sigh

      As much as warmist FUD annoys me, making up facts like this is even worse. The CO2 emitted by volcanos worldwide is estimated between 65 and 320 million tonnes per year, and although that may sound like a lot, it pales in comparison to human output (fossil fuel use alone produce nearly 30 billion tonnes per annum).

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warming???

    If there is such a thing as 'global warming', or is it 'climate change' at the moment, why do I have to have the heating on in my house for the first time in 20 odd years especially since I am living in the south of France?

    I could use some of the 'missing heat' that the climate 'scientists' appear to have lost. Maybe it wasn't there in the first place and was just wishful thinking on the part of those producing the over hot models.

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: Warming???

      Haven't you heard? Temporary localised warmer temperatures are proof of "global warming". Temporary localised colder temperatures are proof of "climate change".

      The rest of us call it "the weather".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Warming???

      The reason is that all the data and charts and graphs are based on when the temperature is hotter than the average. The times when the temperature is lower than the average are ignored.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Warming???

        On the other hand more heat in the system means more energy, meaning more extreme weather patterns - not necessarily warmer weather.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Warming???

      thanks for reminding us how climate deniers don't understand science guys

      1. Ilmarinen
        Facepalm

        Re: Warming???

        Actually...

        IIRC, "Global Warming" (tm) is supposed to heat the poles more than the lower latitudes, thereby reducing temperature gradients that drive that thing we call "weather".

        But, as it turns out, the Globe hasn't warmed* for nearly 2 decades, despite continually increasing CO2. We engineers would probably agree that this means that the "Anthropogenic CO2 -> Global Warming -> DOOM -> Saved by taxes and more Government" theory is broken.

        *I know we just had the "Warmest Year Ever" broadcast round the Globe. If you read the small print (anounced a bit later) it was maybe 0.02oC warmer than a few years back, with low (38%) confidence and with error big bars. And of course, temperature records from earlier years have a history of being "homogomised" - always downwards of course - making warming appear from thin (but CO2 infested) air ;-)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    See icon -->

    If we do build such a system of shades why not make them solar cell arrays. We've got the Moon nearby for materials needed in the construction and the solar arrays help reduce fossil fuel use as well. Even keeps the anti-nuclear power idiots happy.

  27. another_vulture

    We already did that

    The main proposal for Alberdo modification is to spew sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere. This causes a high haze layer which reflects sunlight. But we already did that in the US by burning high-sulfur coal before and during the 1970s. The big spike in "global warming" occurred after we started scrubbing the sulfur out of the exhaust because it causes "acid rain."

    For the last decade, China has been rapidly increasing their use of coal, and (you guessed it) their coal is high sulfur: they are in effect counteracting their CO2 emissions by spewing out SO2, and the warming trend is in abeyance. Unfortunately, the SO2 falls out in the relatively short term, but the CO2 does not. Also, the SO2 has other consequences (some bad like acidified lakes, some good like free fertilizer) that may eventually cause China to begin scrubbing their exhaust.

    So: we already did a massive experiment in albedo modification, and we are now doing another one.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sharks are being jumped as we speak

    Gawd, the inclusion of that downward-trending graph is astonishingly moronic, having absolutely nothing to do with either the subject at hand or the unarguable decadal global temperature rise that we're currently experiencing.

    Again, The Register embarrasses itself.

  29. Piobairean

    The ultimate weapon; give me what I want or I'll create a drought/heat-wave/monsoon/polar weather in your country.

    Bugger up the climate in Mexico or Canada to improve the climate in the U..S.?

    The Sahara was a Paradise during the ice age; I'm sure the people living in squalor in North Africa would like to have their lakes and rivers back.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be afraid

    Be afraid, very afraid. The 'climate scientists' that think they know all about the climate don't, because if they did the weather forecasts would be very accurate for a start.

    With them not knowing are we prepared to let them undertake this insane plan which could very well tip the world over into another ice age? A few degrees of warming, if it eventuates, we can deal with, ice moving from the poles over the US and Europe we can not.

  31. dncnvncd

    Climate Warfare?

    In the 1970s there was an international tribunal convened for the purpose of ending climate warfare. All nations were signatory to the resulting treaty and climate warfare was to end. Geoengineering seems like a new term for climate warfare. While mankind in developed countries burns fossil fuels in contained combustion chambers, the Earth has been subject to burning of fossil fuels by forest, prairie, marsh, peat bed and coal bed fires throughout the ages, the climate changed and the Earth and it's inhabitants survived. If everyone just protects their living area, the rest will take care of itself except for those with delusions of grandeur thinking they can really move the Sun, Moon and stars. Since there is a sucker born every minute, the hucksters will just find a new hoax. The U.S. Congress being filled with hucksters proves that.

  32. Paul Shirley

    block moderate, timely, precautionary action - WTF did you expect?

    Some idiots never learn, let a crisis build and governments will eventually make excessive and dangerous responses... and rape your wallet with taxes along the way.

    Obstructionism is not free of consequences.

  33. NomNomNom

    It is quite funny to read various climate skeptic blogs discussing this news about geo-engineering in which climate skeptic commentards drop their guard and shriek hysterically about the dangers of modifying the climate, citing the "law of unintended consequences", wailing "not on my planet!" and bemoaning the risk of messing around with the climate.

    Somehow in complete contradiction to their casual don't-give-a-shit attitude towards ongoing CO2 emissions which are not only a form of geo-engineering but an uncontrolled one. Yet in that case the "law of unintended consequences" doesn't get a mention and anyone who dares suggest such a thing would be labelled as "alarmist".

    If any evidence were needed that their "nothing to see here" attitude towards CO2 is all about the $$$

    1. codejunky Silver badge
      Devil

      @ NomNomNom

      "It is quite funny to read various climate skeptic blogs discussing this news about geo-engineering in which climate skeptic commentards drop their guard and shriek hysterically about the dangers of modifying the climate, citing the "law of unintended consequences", wailing "not on my planet!" and bemoaning the risk of messing around with the climate."

      Probably because they see the damage from the warmist cult nutters already and now apparently the crazies are planning geoengineering involving the sun. These idiots cant even tame their own imaginary data never mind the sun.

  34. ST Silver badge

    can we have a reality-based, serious deliberative process

    <QUOTE>

    In the United States, can we actually have a reality-based, serious deliberative process about anything anymore?

    </QUOTE>

    I'll answer that: No.

  35. Sherrie Ludwig

    Not all climate mod ideas are giant space mirrors. Read the chapter in Superfreakonomics about "Budyko's Blanket" and find that there are some crazy-sounding, cheap, easily reversible methods of cooling the upper atmosphere as well. There are also some reasons there not to do so, and some reasoned discussion overall on climate change.

  36. Terry Cloth
    Paris Hilton

    Interesting graph you've got there

    Where'd the last couple of hundred years go?

    On my screen, 500 y = 4.4 cm. After 1500 we only get 2.2 cm of chart, meaning it's missing from 1750 to present, 265 years. I'd love to know how it comes out.

    (Icon for the question mark, not the bimbo.)

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