Geo-Engineering: Salvation or Threat

If you are digging yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging!


We should all  be astounded by the article in the July/August  2009 issue of The Atlantic magazine.  Graeme Wood in his article, Moving Heaven And Earth, summarizes and correctly wonders about our collective sanity when we begin to truly give credence to the newest buzz word in the world of global warming, Geo-Engineering. 

Geo-Engineering!  What you may ask is that? 

Well here are some snippets and quotations from Graeme Wood which may help resolve some of your questions, if not your credibility.

Humans have been aggressively transforming the planet for more than 200 years. The Nobel Prize–winning atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen—one of the first cheerleaders for investigating the gas-the-planet strategy—recently argued that geologists should refer to the past two centuries as the “anthropocene” period. In that time, humans have reshaped about half of the Earth’s surface. We have dictated what plants grow and where. We’ve pocked and deformed the Earth’s crust with mines and wells, and we’ve commandeered a huge fraction of its freshwater supply for our own purposes. What is new is the idea that we might want to deform the Earth intentionally, as a way to engineer the planet either back into its pre-industrial state, or into some improved third state.

Certainly Paul Crutzen has it right reflecting on the last 200 years and mankind’s immense impact on the planet, but the last sentence is the one that takes on a more sinister aspect. The author goes on.

Large-scale projects that aim to accomplish this go by the name “geo-engineering,” and they constitute some of the most innovative and dangerous ideas being considered today to combat climate change. Some scientists see geo-engineering as a last-ditch option to prevent us from cooking the planet to death. Others fear that it could have unforeseen—and possibly catastrophic—consequences. What many agree on, however, is that the technology necessary to reshape the climate is so powerful, and so easily implemented, that the world must decide how to govern its use before the wrong nation—or even the wrong individual—starts to change the climate all on its own.

Does this sound a lot like the post WWII warnings about nuclear proliferation? And we all know how successful we have been with that policy after decades of other countries joining the now not-so-exclusive club. You may also be wondering about the altruistic intentions of say North Korea and Iran. 

A Sample of Geo-Engineering Proposals

We all know global warming is an issue that threatens all of us, but what does this Geo-Engineering science  propose to allay the gathering threat? Well, below is a short list:

  • Dragging propellers behind 1500 ships so the resultant spray will form more clouds
  • Shoot Frisbee-size ceramic disks-800,000 every 5 minutes for 10 years to reflect the sun
  • Sulfur-aerosol injection: Pumping sulfur dioxide from factories to Zeppelins at  65000 ft, basically causing smog and blocking the sun-this is referred to as the Blade Runner solution.
  • “Carbon-eating trees” that would decay into topsoil creating carbon traps
  • Building-size structures to filter and trap carbon chemically. Then pump the carbon (major greenhouse gas) back into the ground
  • Huge Plankton gardens on the surface of the seas to ingest carbon and trap it at the bottom of the oceans

Potential Blow-back

And apparently every country, that can afford it of course and has the technology, can be undertaking their own program(s) of choice.  Never mind that the blow-back from any of the above could be catastrophic in its own right. 

Has everyone forgotten there is only ONE atmosphere, no backups here!

But what should be somewhat disturbing to all of the doubters is the author’s own response and concluding paragraph.

We should keep such images in mind. And they should remind us that, one way or another, a prolonged love affair with carbon dioxide will end disastrously. A pessimist might judge geo-engineering so risky that the cure would be worse than the disease. But a sober optimist might see it as the biggest and most terrifying insurance policy humanity might buy—one that pays out so meagerly, and in such foul currency, that we’d better ensure we never need it. In other words, we should keep investigating geo-engineering solutions, but make quite clear to the public that most of them are so dreadful that they should scare the living daylights out of even a Greenfinger.

Graeme Wood goes on in the last sentence of his concluding remarks to make what seems a somewhat understated solution.

In this way, the colossal dangers inherent in geo-engineering could become its chief advantage. A premonition of a future that looks like Blade Runner, with skies dominated by a ruddy smog that’s our only defense against mass flooding and famine, with sunshades in space and a frothy bloom of plankton wreathing the Antarctic, could finally horrify the public into greener living. Perhaps a Prius doesn’t sound so bad, when a zeppelin is the alternative.

Reduce Populations Rather Than a Zeppelin

You are to be applauded for your warnings and insight, but is that it Graeme? A Prius instead of a Zeppelin! That’s our only choice?

Well, if that is our only solution than we are truly doomed to a Blade Runner scenario, even with the help of everyone driving a Prius. 

Doesn’t it make more sense  to make some logical choices now so that Geo-Engineering becomes pointless, and can be left to all the “smart people” drinking way too much coffee down at Starbucks?  

Where is the real source of the  problem? The problem is not the symptom global warming. The root cause is too many people continually creating and feeding the conditions for global warming.

Back to Basics: We Are the Problem

Let’s quit mincing words and refusing to deal with reality. If we are going to doom ourselves to Zeppelins and Frisbees let’s at least be honest about the whole thing, we are the problem. 

There is an expanding  industry materializing around the global warming issue. That is most likely the motivation for the Geo-Engineering scenarios. 

Again, as always, we have to follow the money, and there isn’t a whole lot of money for Wall Street in reducing populations, so unfortunately expanding populations, growth economies and now Geo-Engineering will still try to rule the day.


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