There will be an unexpected sight high in the skies over the British county of Norfolk next month: a huge balloon attached to the ground by a giant hosepipe.
It isn’t obvious, but it is the first small step in an experiment which aims to re-create the cooling effect of erupting volcanoes on the earth’s atmosphere.
Scientists and engineers from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford are behind the three-year, 1.6 million pound ($2.5 million) project called Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE).
The scheme will assess the feasibility of so-called solar radiation management (SRM) by mimicking volcanoes when they erupt. Eruptions can both warm and cool the Earth’s climateFix, depending on how sunlight interacts with volcanic material.
SRM works on the assumption that some eruptions expel particles into the upper atmosphere, bouncing some of the sun’s energy back into space and thereby cooling the earth.
“In 1991, a large eruption at Mount Pinatubo injected around 18 million tons of SO2 (sulphur oxide) to a 30-km altitude,” project leader Matt Watson told reporters.
“That had the effect of cooling the global climate by around half a degree over two years.”
Does Ken Adam still live in England? I’m sure he could pass on a referral to the guys who do all the construction work for SPECTRE. (To borrow a Lileksian reference to which I can’t readily find a link.) They’re experts at building fake volcanoes. Fake volcanoes with giant pools for sharks with frickin’ lasers on their heads, people.
Incidentally, it’s all kabuki of course:
Here’s Anthony Watts of the Watts Up With That science blog on Australian journalist Andrew Bolt scoring “the Quote of the Millennium” — almost literally so, on MTR-1377, Melbourne’s talk radio station:
Our regular feature, “Quote of the Week” just doesn’t work here. Neither does decade or century. No, a whole new category all by itself is reserved for this quote from the newly appointed Climate Commissioner of Australia, Tim Flannery, noted zoologist and author of the book The Weather Makers.Here it is, brace yourself:
If we cut emissions today, global temperatures are not likely to drop for about a thousand years.
Lest you think that is an errant remark out of context, here’s the follow up from Flannery:
Just let me finish and say this. If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as a thousand years because the system is overburdened with CO2 that has to be absorbed and that only happens slowly.
Crikey! So much for the “think of the grandchildren” argument used by Dr. James Hansen.
Not to mention this badgering fellow’s botched ambush interview.