“Obama looking at cooling air to fight warming”, says AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein. A climate adviser to the President is looking at a variety of schemes, including shooting sulfur into the atmosphere, to avoid Global Warming.


Tinkering with Earth’s climate to chill runaway global warming — a radical idea once dismissed out of hand — is being discussed by the White House as a potential emergency option, the president’s new science adviser said Wednesday.

That’s because global warming is happening so rapidly, John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month.

The concept of using technology to purposely cool the climate is called geoengineering. One option raised by Holdren and proposed by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays.

“We’re talking about all these issues in the White House,” Holdren said. “There’s a very vigorous process going on of discussing all the options for addressing the energy climate challenge.” Holdren said discussions include Cabinet officials and heads of sub-Cabinet level agencies, such as NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency. … The British Parliament has also discussed the idea. At an international meeting of climate scientists last month in Copenhagen, 15 talks dealt with different aspects of geoengineering. …

Holdren, a 1981 winner of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, outlined these possible geoengineering options:

• Shooting sulfur particles (like those produced by power plants and volcanoes, for example) into the upper atmosphere, an idea that gained steam when it was proposed by Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen in 2006. It would be “basically mimicking the effect of volcanoes in screening out the incoming sunlight,” Holdren said.

• Creating artificial “trees” — giant towers that suck carbon dioxide out of the air and store it.


These guys are thinking of applying linear solutions to a complex problem they don’t even understand, to a system they can’t even model. Re-engineering the whole planet is the ultimate public works project; and is likely to cost untold sums. When the whole scheme comes a cropper, as it might, the unintended consequences may be incalculable. I happen think this is total madness, but that’s no reason it won’t happen. Maybe the crazier something is, the more likely it is to be embraced as conventional wisdom.

Back to the drawing board.

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