Geo-Engineering: More about bad ideas to “save” the Earth


There has been a recent increase in articles about using massive scale engineering projects to stop the threat of global warming.  The linked article there talks about how it is time to get serious and start pushing these ideas through.  Of course we still have to stop CO2 emissions, all while not using nuclear power.  Keep the good ideas flowing.

I have touched on geo-engineering before here.  The idea of intentionally trying to tamper with the Earth’s climate while not fully understanding what is going on is incredibly rash and foolish.  One of the older ideas is to put vast quantities of iron into the oceans as a fine dust.  The idea behind this is that algae in the oceans is limited only by the iron content available.  It has been shown that adding iron does in fact increase the algae, but the idea took a massive blow due to a recent volcanic eruption in Alaska.

volcanic-ash--north-pacific-august08-10

In 2008 the volcano erupted and the ash was very high in iron content.  It happened that a storm was in the right place at the right time and carried the iron heavy ash out over the ocean where it was spread out over 1.5+ million square kilometers.  This did trigger the expected bloom of “ocean productivity event of unprecedented magnitude.”  The problem was the amount of CO2 absorbed was still tiny and had little impact.

phytoplankton-north-pacific-august08-10

This shows that to make a difference this iron seeding of the oceans would have to be done on an enormous scale to have an impact.  So expect plans for such events to be put forward as that would still be cheaper and have less of a “carbon impact” than some of the ideas like building giant mirrors in space to reflect energy away from the Earth…..  Here is the carbon footprint for the space shuttle.  It doesn’t directly generate CO2, but the energy budget is very large and CO2 is generated in each step along the way.

If you think that understanding the climate isn’t important, just think about that idea for a minute.

Posted in Fear and Misinformation and Unintended Consequences by inconvenientskeptic on October 19th, 2010 at 1:45 am.

5 comments

This post has 5 comments

  1. Geo engineering is a horrible idea. We have such a short term view of the climate and so little understanding of the dynamics that make it up that we have no business trying to intentionally alter it. You wouldn’t let a toddler play around in the back of an old tube TV set while it is on, we shouldn’t be playing with the climate that we have little understanding of.

    Nice blog John!

  2. Richard111 Oct 20th 2010

    Has anyone heard of a CO2 gas lode? I mean, does Mother Gaia store CO2 in gas form other than clathrates under the sea? No shortage of carbonate storage, White Cliffs of Dover for example.

    Pumping gas into the ground, even in liquid form, strikes me as a recipe for disaster. I once had the opportunity of visiting a gold mine in South Africa. It was HOT!

    Then I suppose if the gas leaks out we will still pay and be told how successful it all is.

  3. Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

  4. Lovely sharp post. Never thought that it was this easy. Extolment to you!

  5. Barefoot Dave Oct 25th 2010

    Actually, geo-engineering is a very good idea as a research subject and as a true “insurance” policy in case the worst scenarios of the alarmists turn out to be right; much cheaper “insurance” than replacing coal-fired power plants with wind-mills and doing without automobiles.

    Since whatever we in the US and other western nations do vast amounts of CO2 are going to be released by China and other industrializing nations, geo-engineering is going to be the *only* solution if things start to go badly in fifty or one-hundred years.

    And the people will be able to do geo-engineering with much more knowledge of the climate systems, with much more advanced technology, and with much greater wealth than we have today; so long as we don’t destroy our own economy by attempting to return to 19th Century energy levels.

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