The Startling Irony of “Geoengineering”

by Val Germann

As readers here at Star Phoenix Base well know, the last few months have seen an avalanche of information leading to the inescapable conclusion that the Earth’s climate is warming very rapidly indeed. To those of us previously alerted to this problem the situation appears absolutely dire, and some kind of action is an urgent priority. But what action is needed, and on what scale? And what agency exists that might implement such action should it be determined to be necessary?

Unfortunately, there are no current answers to these questions, which makes a recent article on the SPACE DAILY website a bit of a shocker. Let’s start in the middle with a quote from Tom Wigley of The National Center for Atmospheric Research:

“Geoengineering could provide additional time to address the economic and technological challenges faced by a mitigation-only approach,” says Wigley.

That is, the warming effects of human-generated gases are by now so severe as to preclude the effectiveness of any “fix” based solely on reduction of emissions. As a result, some way should to be found to actively cool the atmosphere, and quickly, too. But what? Well, scientist Wigley has some computer models and a geoengineering suggestion:

To see how geoengineering might change this picture, Wigley took the overshoot scenario and added three frequencies of Pinatubo-scale injections of sulfates into the stratosphere. The frequencies were equivalent to an eruption every year, every two years, and every four years.

Yes, you read that right, the proposal is to inject material into the stratosphere on a greater scale than occured as a result of one of the most massive volcanic eruptions of modern times. We’re talking millions of tons of material fired miles up into the air, again and again and again! We’re talking billions, even trillions of dollars, combined with rocket launches (or something similiar) on an ENORMOUS scale!

And so we see what “geoengineering” implies: even more large-scale human intervention concerning the Earth’s climate system, this time to counteract the previous “unintended geoengineering” of gigantic fossil fuel combustion.

But what kind of energy releases, near the surface, would be required to do all this heavy lifting? The mind boggles and I’m sure Dr. Wigley’s model would, too, if he only had included it, which I’m sure he has not.

In addition, the Pinatubo eruption led to massive crop damage and flooding here in the U.S. as rapid northern hemisphere cooling collided with an El Nino. Do we want THAT again?

Now, don’t get this writer wrong, he is all in favor of science and serious scientific research. But some things are simply so far outside the pale as to have never seen the light of day, and this is one of them.

Let’s have “Plan B”, Dr. Wigley, and soon, too, if you don’t mind!

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About Val

I am a long-time teacher of science and astronomy with a strong interest in resource conservation and the environment.
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