For the uninitiated, geoengineering is easiest explained as the plan B in the fight against climate change, in case our politicians and world leaders fail. And as the Kyoto agreement is due 2012, with both Bali and Copenhagen settled disappointments, it is perhaps time for drastic action.
Scientists all over the world are already on it.
10. Ocean Iron Fertilization
“Give me half a tanker of iron, and I’ll give you an ice age” ~John Martin, discoverer of the Ocean Iron Fertilization Idea.
Introduce iron into the ocean’s upper layer and increase the amount of phytoplankton (plant plankton) in the ocean. This in turn will increase the amount of food for ocean life, strengthen the ecosystem and most importantly, take in CO2 and release oxygen. The problem however, is not just the process but the scale on which it has to be done to make an impact.
9. Cloud Reflectivity Enhancement
Making clouds whiter. How? Apparently the “viable plan” by Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh is to have 1500 special ships known as Flettner ships to spray ocean water into the atmosphere. The ocean spray would work within a concept known as the Twomey Effect. The biggest problem is the lack on ocean nuclei needed due to pollution.
Problem: 1500 honkin’ ships shooting water into the air.
8. Scatterers – Stratospheric Sulfate Aerosols
Release microparticles into the atmosphere at the rate of 1 million metric tons a year through the use of jumbo jets and military artillery. The idea is to reflect some of the sunlight entering our atmosphere, thus reducing warming effects and helping us keep nice and cool. Read more at Wikipedia.
7. Sun-blocking Space Crafts
Some people have been watching way too many movies; Stephen Schneider of Stanford University to be precise. He suggests building 60,000 shiny space crafts and putting them into orbit. This is yet another proposed process to avert some of the sun’s rays (10% to be exact) and cool the earth. Cost: $100 billion a year.
What would Spock say?
6. The CO2 Scrubber
Like the concept of terraforming was introduced in the movie Total Recall, the idea here is to create 250,000 C02 scrubbers and deploy them around the world. The greenhouse gases would be stored underground and used to fuel industries. Here’s the rub: 250,000 units- that’s a quarter-million machines built and deployed. It’s not impossible, but considering the world’s governments can’t agree on a lunch menu, how would they organize such a crazy project?
5. Artificial Trees
The concept of building artificial trees around the world and allowing them to filter out the carbon monoxide is just the ticket. I have no idea why this wouldn’t work beyond the fact that we’re using artificial trees. Why not just plant more trees? Oh wait, we need those for cutting. Perhaps a better plan would be to make artificial trees and cut them down and leave the real ones alone. Nutty as it may seem, this idea has already received media attention.
4. The Sulfur Dioxide Hose
The idea is to loft baloons into the air and have them just floating around. The huge balloons would have several air hoses attached to them that would spray sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere creating a nice red hue at sunset.
The technology is available right now and could be readily deployed. The downside is that like many other expensive international endeavors, one country will probably end up footing the 300 trillion dollar bill. See Treehugger article for more information.
3. Space Frisbees to Save Earth
The idea has been proposed to shoot millions of reflective disks into orbit around the Earth. We’re talking in the neighborhood of 80,000 discs per minute over the course of years. Hasbro, an American Toy maker, is firmly behind this idea, as are skeet shooting clubs around the world.
2. The Volcano Idea
To create manmade volcanoes and use them to spew forth enough particles to help cool the Earth: This is an ongoing project by the British Royal Society that would require an eruption every few months for the rest of our time here on Earth or at least until we can figure out how to reduce our emissions and clean up what we’ve already done.
Where these eruptions are to take place and what the effects on the Earth would be, no one really knows. Personally I believe any volcanoes that are manmade should be made into amusement parks as well. The braincases who endorse this idea should be the only ones allowed in the park, preferably just before an eruption.
1. The “Farting Tank” for Cows
Though this isn’t strictly Geo-engineering, Scientists figure that one steak dinner for a family of four equals the same amount of greenhouse gas emission as a long drive in a SUV. The thought is to either figure out a way to reduce the methane production of cattle or reduce the amount of cattle being herded. One proposed way to reduce the gas production of cattle is to feed them garlic. Another is to attach plastic tanks to the cow to encapsulate its farts.
Why not just take it to the next level and shoot them into space? Their corpses could block out the sun and reduce greenhouse emissions. They would no doubt stay fresh and we could retrieve the beef at anytime through shuttle missions. Too nutty? See above.
For further funny reading on cows as #1 climate crook, check out this article: “Meet the world’s top destroyer of the environment. It is not the car, or the plane,or even George Bush: it is the cow.”