Geoengineering to mitigate effects of climate change
Nov 29, 2018 at 10:56 pm #3566490Anthony ASpectator
@halfred-galpsiLocale: Middle West Earth
The notion of climate engineering has been around nearly as long as the concept of climate change itself and almost equally controversial. Climate engineering, also referred to as geoengineering, is the intentional manipulation of the Earth’s climate, usually with the aim of mitigating the adverse effects of global warming. Scientists typically suggest utilizing climate engineering as a strategy in conjunction with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate engineering concepts commonly fall into one of two categories- greenhouse gas removal and management of solar radiation. The removal of greenhouse gases is typically considered the preferred method because it would also reduce oceanic absorption of gases and the subsequent acidification. Examples of this technique include carbon sequestration and reforestation. There are many proposed solar radiation management techniques, but nearly all involve reflection to reduce surface absorption. This concept has the potential to be very helpful for those most threatened by climate change, but it is very unclear what its full effects would be, and where.
The “moral hazard” is evident, but when/if the urgency created by climate change arises these techniques may need to be deployed. Regardless, more research is necessary to sufficiently inform any decision.
I am interested in the forum’s opinion on the subject!Dec 5, 2018 at 4:51 pm #3567539Anthony ASpectator
@halfred-galpsiLocale: Middle West Earth
For example:Dec 5, 2018 at 5:06 pm #3567541
If you spray sulfates in the stratosphere it will cool the planet but it recedes in a couple years.
So, you’d have to constantly be spraying more into the stratosphere. At some point maybe you’d figure out an unintended consequence and decide this was a bad idea. Or you’d need to spray more and more.
In the mean time, since this would be neutralizing some of the effect of CO2, maybe there’d be less impetus to reduce CO2 emissions, so there’d be more in the atmosphere.
Maybe it would be better to just focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Not that we shouldn’t research sulfates. Consider doing it. Maybe things will get so bad we have no alternative.Dec 5, 2018 at 6:41 pm #3567553Todd StoughBPL Member
As we start seeing the cooling trend grow you guys are going to be trying to burn more carbon. I think these ideas sound dangerous.Dec 5, 2018 at 6:48 pm #3567555ben .BPL Member
reducing emissions is indescribably important. but given 2018’s geopolitical reality, it looks exceptionally unlikely to be anywhere near enough. it seems that humans will need to hit on one/two/many moon shot ideas as well. which should make us all very nervous given the myriad unintended consequences associated with the ideas that we’ve seen proposed so far. but hey, here we are.
a graphic from yesterday’s washington post says it better than i can:Dec 5, 2018 at 9:49 pm #3567660
responsible, publicly regulated, climate engineering could be cool.
Imagine a world in which all crops receive perfect conditions and there are no deadly storms. Our giant food companies could go back to managing giant wild herds and use technology to bring mixed farming to a whole new level with those giant herds. We used to eat bear and whale and now we eat salmon and deer. We ate a whole rung of the food chain and have gone down a tier. We should eat salmon and deer, but we could also control the environment so we have healthy populations of whale and bear to harvest as well.
If profit incentives can be created and appropriately regulated so people can get rich dealing with C02 and all our pollution, managing rains and crops/herds, and managing mineral resources and recycling then we could probably handle the current situation. A lot of that is already in place today, and dedicated people are working to figure out the rest.
As citizens I think its important to keep an open mind and embrace change. If solutions to our problems are found they very well might involve more change and we are going to have to be willing to deal with the consequences.Dec 5, 2018 at 10:40 pm #3567679
The removal of greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration or reforestation are both very problematic. Reforestation only sequesters carbon for decades or a century unless we’re constantly harvesting that biomass and burying it (Yeah, Landfills!). And remember, burning fossil fuels is reversing that same process which occurred naturally over 300 million years. If carbon sequestration just stores CO2 in caves or the deep ocean or geological formations, it will leak out over time. The gold standard of carbon sequestration would be to create a geologically stable compound (i.e. coal) and bury it. Until all coal mining (and oil/gas extraction) is stopped, we’re the exact reverse of the most permanent solution.
Solar radiation management , OTOH, has lots of possibilities. Creating whiter surfaces on earth. Orbiting sunscreens. Mega-engineering for sure, but a few jurisdictions are already mandating the low-hanging fruit: high albedo surfaces (whiter roads, whites roofs) in urban areas. Yes, it’s a small fraction of the earth’s surface, but if LA (Mexico City, Rio, Rome, etc) have just a few degrees less “urban heat island” effect, then the hundreds of millions of (high energy using) people in those urban areas each use less energy for air conditioning. And each building, so built or retrofitted, will have temps 20-30C cooler on its roof, greatly reducing its cooling load.
My proposal would work, it’s completely doable, but it raises energy prices 25%: For every ton of coal (oil / gas) you extract and burn, you must mine a ton of limestone, grind it up, and put it in the ocean to restore ocean alkalinity and react with atmospheric CO2. To actually reverse of the problem, you’d have mitigate not 100% but 150% of your impact for a few decades to reverse the last century of unmitigated fossil-fuel use. An exception could be made for coal-fired and gas-fired power plants located adjacent to limestone deposits into which their emissions could be vented and react permanently with the limestone.
It’s been done before, naturally. Some of the big downward temperature swings in the past have been from limestone deposits being exposed during mountain formation. Like the geology t-shirts say:
We just need to speed up that process.Dec 5, 2018 at 10:59 pm #3567685
“The gold standard of carbon sequestration would be to create a geologically stable compound (i.e. coal) and bury it. ”
Yeah, exactly, much easier to just leave it in the ground in the first place.
I believe CO2 injected into basalt turns it into limestone. That would be a stable product. That happens naturally. When the continents were located so there was more, natural conversion of CO2 + Basalt to limestone, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere decreased so the earth cooled and totally froze over, snowball earth. Then, with total ice coverage there was no CO2 conversion so CO2 levels increased and it all heated up and the ice melted. This explanation is not totally agreed upon.Dec 6, 2018 at 3:26 am #3567728Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I believe CO2 injected into basalt turns it into limestone. That would be a stable product.
Basalt generally has a composition of 45–55 wt% SiO2, 2–6 wt% total alkalis, 0.5–2.0 wt% TiO2, 5–14 wt% FeO and 14 wt% or more Al2O3. Contents of CaO are commonly near 10 wt%, those of MgO commonly in the range 5 to 12 wt%.
The CaO could change into calcium carbonate or limestone, but to change the other 90% of basalt might require some serious alchemy. This might not happen.
CheersDec 6, 2018 at 3:39 pm #3567784
yeah, exactly, it turns the CO2 into calcium carbonate : )
the point being that it’s stable, not like pumping CO2 into the ground which might leak back out. I think they have some demonstration plants. And it’s not like putting sulfates into the atmosphere which only last a couple years before you have to put more.
maybe they could grind basalt up into powder and sprinkle on the ocean, CO2 converts to calcium carbonate and sinks to the bottom. I don’t think there is anyone proposing this though. There is a lot of basalt on the earth, probably enough to neutralize any CO2 we could possibly liberate from fossil fuels.Dec 6, 2018 at 6:25 pm #3567809ben .BPL Member
an article (with pretty pictures of rocks!) about the subject:Dec 7, 2018 at 12:12 am #3567865jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Painting rooftops white is a great idea; simple; should have been done fifteen years ago when we already knew about it but hey: you’d have to mandate it and people would scream about government tyranny (“you can’t tell me what to do!”). Even better: mandate (that word again) that all new houses built in the sun belt states have to have solar panels. Period. That’s where the vast majority of population growth in the States is anyway. Do the same in sunny Australia, etc.
and China! They’re good at getting everyone on board with grand projects. Might be time to invest in Sherwin Williams stock.
and actually, don’t you think that giving the population at large a fairly simple and effective task to counteract global warming, that seems so overwhelming, would be unifying and empowering in a way? Like fighting the Germans in ww2?
Germany is way ahead of us in terms of generating non CO2 power, and it’s dark and dank there most of the year. We should be able to outdo the damn Germans****
And then there’s mandating low energy lighting in new and/or existing office buildings–and how about turning the lights off at night. Buildings as a whole account for 40% of the total energy expenditure in the U.S.
I’d never heard about the whole limestone thing but that sounds great and most important doesn’t seem like it would bring along its own unintended consequences….???? same with the other approaches mentioned so far. We have to start somewhere, right?
***My ancestors are German, just kidding!Dec 7, 2018 at 5:16 pm #3567946Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
In my opinion, quick fix solutions like the spraying stuff in the air, will lead to a lot of unintended consequences.
What’s really going to kill us about the CO2 in the atmosphere is ocean acidification. When we reach the tipping point on that, the entire food chain of the earth will collapse and the mass extinction event we’re already in will become too devastating to survive.Dec 7, 2018 at 5:56 pm #3567956
maybe they should use rooftops to grow food
save energy transporting food to eaters in addition to reducing heating and cooling cost in dollars and CO2Dec 7, 2018 at 10:43 pm #3567996
“And then there’s mandating low energy lighting in new and/or existing office buildings–and how about turning the lights off at night.”
We’re already seeing the effects of more efficient appliances and especially lighting being mandated. 100-watt incandescent bulbs passed out first, then 75, later 60. So you have to replace them with CFLs or LEDs. After a century of electrical consumption always going up 1-2% a year, despite more efficient appliances (because people keep doing more things with electricity), we now see 1-2% annual declines per household.
>”ocean acidification. When we reach the tipping point on that, the entire food chain of the earth will collapse”
And one of the many scary things about ocean acidification is that any buffer solution reacts with more and more of one reactant for a long time until, suddenly, its pH flips very quickly. And that we’re adding more CO2 each year. Once the ocean isn’t buffering CO2 emissions much, atmospheric CO2 will rise at about 3 times the current rate.Dec 8, 2018 at 9:43 pm #3568093
For more awesome carbon sequestration information MIT is still maintaining https://sequestration.mit.edu/
We probably have the understanding and technology to address our climate issues. We aren’t waiting for some science or technology to be figured out. What we are waiting for is someone to figure out how to monetize any one climate fix idea. Once people figure out how to get rich fixing the environment, then the environment is going be fixed. I don’t want to sound cynical, really I’m trying to be optimistic. The science and technology should have been the hard part…
Taking control of atmospheric C02 levels will affect the whole carbon cycle. Climate engineering is one thing, but I think it is worth considering engineering the biomes and ecosystems as well. It is all so inter-related why not? Reap what we sow and what not. I read somewhere that if ants are 0.7 on the Kardachev scale then humans are 0.71. Maybe we are facing the ‘growing pains’ of becoming a true type I civilization.Dec 22, 2018 at 1:32 am #3569759Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
A few years ago the US Air Force DID experiment with sun blocking high altitude “spraying” of some substance. When asked about the strange contrails there was a canned “denial denial” issued.Dec 22, 2018 at 2:53 am #3569766jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
We can ever so slightly alter our behavior to try to address this problem, OR: some guy will promise that if we spray stuff into the atmosphere in order to completely change it, we can continue on the way we are. It’a only the atmosphere; what could go wrong?
Because altering the earth’s environment has worked out so well up until now.
Keep banging our heads against that wall until…Dec 22, 2018 at 5:11 am #3569776
“A few years ago the US Air Force DID experiment with sun blocking high altitude “spraying” of some substance.”
they’re trying to manipulate us, make us more compliant
or maybe it’s to make us unreasonably argue all the time : )Dec 22, 2018 at 5:13 pm #3569800Tom KBPL Member
“And one of the many scary things about ocean acidification is that any buffer solution reacts with more and more of one reactant for a long time until, suddenly, its pH flips very quickly. And that we’re adding more CO2 each year. Once the ocean isn’t buffering CO2 emissions much, atmospheric CO2 will rise at about 3 times the current rate.”
With potentially catastrophic follow on effects: As the ocean warms it will hold less dissolved gasses like CO2 AND O2; less O2 will have a serious impact on marine life, particularly in the higher latitudes, as pointed out in a recent study published in Science. Their conclusion is that we are on the threshhold of creating conditions similar to those which caused the last great extinction 252 million years ago. The first two links below are worth reading if you are interested. The Guardian link is an overview; the Science link will get you an abstract. You will have to pay if you want to read the entire study, but I think the abstract will give you enough to understand what is going on.
And then there are those oft overlooked methane hydrates, the release of which will likely have a synergistic effect on the process. The linked study below, from the University of Washington Oceanography Department indicates we may be on the verge of a tipping point at which an increasing amount of methane hydrates will begin to dissociate, resulting in a feedback loop that results in an ever increasing amount of methane being released. Its warming effect on the atmosphere will in turn amplify the feedback loop already in progress in the northern latitudes, where ever increasing amounts of methane are being released from the anaerobic decay of organic material long frozen in the permafrost zone, as the atmospheric temperature continues to rise.
All in all a very ominous analysis of where we are headed. Meanwhile, back in The Swamp, our benighted little band of Neros continue their cacaphonic fiddling, while the planet burns.Dec 29, 2018 at 6:37 am #3570648BeendarenbackBPL Member
@beendareLocale: SF Bay area
I dunno what to believe when it comes to Climate change….its so political now. Isn’t geoengineering like spitting in the ocean? I suppose harvesting trees and then replanting is ‘geoengineering’…those type projects I’m all for.
Sure the climate changes..no argument there..but are humans a major factor. I saw some study where British researchers [I think] found that Ocean algae caused more greenhouse gasses than large human populations.
Seems to me that many of these scientific studies set out to prove ‘Climate change’ [politics] Al Gore has gotten rich from the politics of climate change. Is climate change really a problem caused by humans…or is it the natural evolution of the planet? If it is human caused…
Common sense tells us that reducing pollution is a no brainer…….if not for the sake of the water we drink and the air we breathe.Dec 29, 2018 at 8:27 am #3570655Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
That is why we have the IPCC Report, a consensus of hundreds of involved scientists. Read it.
It is only the coal, oil and gas empires and their associated politicians who are trying to make it ‘political’. It ceased being ‘political’ some years ago.
CheersDec 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm #3570657
” I saw some study where British researchers [I think] found that Ocean algae caused more greenhouse gasses than large human populations.”
It doesn’t matter that the effect of CO2 is small compared to many natural climate change causes. Like what causes ice ages anyway?
It’s easily measured that the amount of CO2 is rising beyond any recent history, and it’s because of burning fossil fuels
This will only raise the global temperature a small amount, a few degrees. By the time we find out exactly what the effect of that is, the CO2 will be in the atmosphere and it will take a long time before it’s naturally removed, 1000s of yearsDec 29, 2018 at 7:36 pm #3570685
Of all the sources to point to the IPCC is the only one that is actually politicised.
They don’t use the accepted peer review process. They commission the reports.
You can read about their process here:
They claim their process is great (and in reality it is), but the facts are they choose the authors, the contributors, the reviewers, and the editors and the people they choose benefit from being chosen in one way or another. This is where all the crying about politicised science comes from.
I’m regurgitating this from a chemistry professor who I think was upset that they denied him the opportunity to participate…
Earth science is not politicised, the UN is. If you look at any earth science peer reviewed journal you can see all the same evidence, same conclusions, same science, but peer-reviewed under the traditional, accepted as ethical, method.
It would be cheaper though to realize that the UN’s political incentives are aligned with peace and prosperity and read their reports for free, after all they contain all the same info.
The traditional, accepted as ethical, peer review method isn’t perfect either…Dec 29, 2018 at 11:03 pm #3570694
Here’s a great graphic of global temperatures over the last 22,000 years. Scroll along through the millennia, read what humans were doing at that time, and enjoy the occasional jokes. Then look what happens in the last century:
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