New Geoengineering Proposal: Bright Water


Seitz photo

Occasional Reason contibutor and Harvard University physicist Russell Seitz proposed a novel mechanism—microbubbles—for cooling the earth at the Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies at Asilomar in California last week. reports:

The bubbles in turbulent water already provide "undershine" beneath the surface, and these contribute around 0.1% of the Earth's reflectivity, or albedo. Harvard University scientist Russel Seitz's proposal is to use ships to pump tiny "," about 0.05 0.002 mm* in diameter, into the sea as they travel, in a strategy he terms "Bright Water". Seitz said the bubbles would, in effect, act as tiny mirrors containing air, and could be created by mixing water supercharged with compressed air with swirling jets of water. This would emulate and amplify a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Using computer modeling, Seitz discovered that a concentration of only one part per million of microbubbles can double the reflectivity of water, and could cool Earth by up to 3°C if the system could be deployed. Adding microbubbles to a square kilometer of ocean is feasible, but Seitz admitted that scaling it to cover an entire ocean would be technically difficult, not because of the energy requirement, which he said would be equivalent to about 1000 windmills, but because of the fact that the bubbles may not last long enough to effectively spread over large areas.

See other Seitz contributions to Reason on the dire implications of carbon rationing here and airport security nonsense here.

*Correction: Seitz tells me that PhysOrg reported the wrong size for the microbubbles in his proposal. Instead of 0.05 mm, they should be 0.002 mm.

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  1. Told you it was the mirrors.

    1. I was totally underappreciated in my time.

      1. I have a recording of him singing “Tiny Bubbles” on a 78.

  2. Don Ho, sadly, unavailable for comment.

    1. Just slow at typing, my Hawaiian friend.

      1. My drill sergeants used this as a cadence (slightly modified) and I had no idea where it was from until now.

  3. Wouldn’t it just be easier to primer some rocks in the Arctic? Egg shell is nice.

    1. Fuck you asshole. Bring on the heat!

  4. …and could cool Earth by up to 3?C if the system could be deployed.

    Oh no you don’t. I’m not jumping into any crazy schemes like that to control the Earth’s single temperature. I’ll stick with carbon trading, thank you very much.

  5. I have images of a totally frozen planet for some reason.

      1. Not that frozen. More like a frozen pi?a colada that’s been out on the sun for ten minutes?

        1. and then is caught in the rain?

          1. I swear to Snow Miser that I’ll become an Evil Overlord if that ever happens.

            I knew someone would reference that fucking song. Mea culpa.

        2. Planet Slushy: The Headache World

          1. Once the world is frozen, scientists will propose sprinkling tequila and citrus all over the tundra to reverse the freezing effects of tiny bubbles. Which will usher in a new period of violent drunkenness and mindless sex with people you’d normally refuse to even talk to.

            1. “Tequila goggles” is just a euphemism for gouging your eyes out.

              1. So, let’s take a poll: Would you rather live on an Earth that was Hoth-like or a world that was Dune-like? For ease of discussion, we’ll limit the comparison to climate–no sandworms, etc.

                1. Hoth, of course. water scarcity is a much bigger problem than heat scarcity.

                  1. Dune all the way, baby – I stand up a lot better to heat than cold.

                2. Hoth. Dune was so loooooooooong. Plus, I heard that after the Empire cleared out all those rebels, property values started to rebound.

                  1. Yeah, but Tauntauns are all over the fucking place. They are worse than rabid moose.

                    And when a Tauntaun shits in your yard, your yard really knows it’s been shit in.

                    1. Jesus, people! Frozen Earth or Desert Earth! No sandworms or tauntauns!

                    2. No sandworms or tauntauns!

                      That’s good. Sandworms would just eat the tauntauns anyway. I still go with Hoth. I don’t like my food too spicy.

                    3. No sandworms and tauntauns, either.

                      Don’t mess with me. I’m a known libertarian.

                    4. No sandworms and tauntauns, either.

                      Space PETA’s gonna hear about this.

                    5. No sandworms or tauntauns!

                      “This IS Ceti Alpha 5!”

                    6. Now you’re just being silly.

                    7. “Use the spice, Luke.”

                    8. ‘Scuse me SugarFree? You said crossing the genres was bad!

                    9. When the Atreides take over the Death Star from the EMPIRE corporation, the trap will be ready to spring.

                    10. That would be funny except that Lucas was “inspired by” Dune in about fifty different ways. Even when I was ten, watching Star Wars for the first time, I thought to myself, “Sandworm carcasses, desert planet, spice–is that supposed to be Arrakis?”

                      Even so, ripping off good stuff to make more good stuff is better than the reverse, which is the more typical approach favored by Hollywood.

                    11. I want to see this crossover. The slashfic must be written.

                    12. Which crossover? Due to global warming, nested, threaded comments make no fucking sense.

                    13. The Dune/Star Wars crossover.

                    14. Kyle MacLachlan and Mark Hammill wouldn’t say no.

                    15. As I note above, it was done when the first film came out. Here’s a site talking about Star Wars‘ origins.

                    16. But would teenage boys really go see a movie starring two old lesbians?

                    17. No worries. Modern CGI can convert those old lesbians into young lesbians. That’s cinema gold.

                    18. “Oh, Obi-Wan Stilgar! The sandworm tore off my clothes!”

                    19. That’s no sandworm. That’s the Force.

                    20. Poor Harvard Professor Nerdlinger up there had no clue his bubbles idea would lead to a concept stag film with what I assume will be lower than average production values and pending infringement lawsuits from two franchises.

                      Star Wars: Episode LXIX – Wrath of the Double-Ended Sandworm.

                    21. Parody isn’t infringement! It’s our right as Americans!

                      I imagine the Force will be used in a similar manner as Chevy Chase used his telekinetic powers in Modern Problems.

    1. Same here.

      One of those “What could possibly go wrong?” scenarios.

      1. “Well, we can’t just do nothing!! Then we’d be doing nothing!!”

    2. Well, the good thing about this particular scheme is that it sounds easily and quickly reversible.

  6. Great SITE for Documentaries check it out,

    1. Are you gargling your mom’s cunt snot?

      1. Why are you so full of hate?

        1. Your mom didn’t breast feed me long enough.

    2. Full disclosure, please. What’s your interest in this venture?

  7. Yeah, I think Vonnegut already told us what would happen in this scenario. Didn’t work out so well for humanity, as I recall.

    1. Ice, ice, very nice

  8. If the world’s governments refuse to pursue the technology, it really, really cries out for “Mad Scientist Weaponization”.

    If you scale it up to 4 or 5 degrees, isn’t that moving into Little Ice Age territory?

    “Time to suffer, Englanders! Muwahahahaha!”

  9. The thought of a frozen planet is a whole hell of a lot scarier than one of no ice caps.

    It would seem to me that if humans are even able to error in changing the planets climate, wouldn’t we want it to be warmer than cooler? I mean, almost NOTHING survives a frozen planet… plants, animals, insects… doesn’t seem very ‘green’ to me. However during periods of time when the earth had no polar ice caps, life thrived even beyond what we know today.

    Do they realize that only about 10,000 years ago New York was sitting under 1000 feet of ice where it had been for one to two million years? I don’t think we should be playing to trying to ‘cool’ the climate…

    1. 10,000 years ago New York was sitting under 1000 feet of ice where it had been for one to two million years

      Actually, it was about 20,000 years ago, and it had been there for less than 100,000 years. I know these aren’t huge errors, but if we want to have any credibility in our fight against the hippies, we should at least get the undisputed facts straight.

      To be fair, it has been under ice repeatedly over the past two million years, but interspersed with periods of warmth comparable to the current interglacial.

    2. only about 10,000 years ago New York was sitting under 1000 feet of ice

      Ahhh – the good old days…

  10. Uh, did Sokal leave the room giggling?
    I’m waiting for the punchline.

  11. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to use scrubbing bubbles?

  12. So, when we do a holeshot with our boat to start the skiing or tubing or waterboarding wakeboarding or whatever, you get lots of bubbles. And of course they keep going as long as the boat is going. I’m not sure how many are less than/equal to 0.05mm, but thinking some must be. Although that’s a REALLY small bubble.

    So: I should run my boat a LOT more this summer, as should all other boaters, right? “We’re doing it for THE PLANET.”

    Just askin’…

    1. Oh, and we’ll need a gummint subsidy – some “green dollars” for doing the Lord’s work to Save teh Planet. I have a 50 gallon gas tank, so filling up is bit pricy @ $3 a galloon.

  13. I was going to ask if anybody else thought of scrubbing bubbles, but apparently the spam filter thinks it’s spam. And yet, Anon-Bot gets away with it….

  14. I don’t think that anyone can claim with certainty that global warming will not happen and will not be a problem. To do so is just as stupid as to jump right in with the most alarming exaggerated scare scenarios you get from the enviro-crazies. It is stupid to say that the science is settled either way.
    Supposing at some point we end up with a planet that is inconveniently warm (due to whatever cause, anthropogenic or not) it is probably good to have some ideas like this kicking around.

  15. As usual, Ron gives me too much credit, but why the snappy lede picture of me in Harvard’s Peabody Museum ?

    That , as they say, is another story, which ran in The New York Times:

  16. Carbonate the oceans!

  17. Last year my summer was cooler than usual and my winter was warmer than usual. In both seasons I saved on my energy bill. Now if everyone would just keep their shit going at exactly the same speed as you did last year, I will send out one million internet points to everyone. Thanks.

    1. Except everybody knows that climate change pushes weather further to the extremes. Surely, you must have misread your bills.

  18. only about 10,000 years ago New York was sitting under 1000 feet of ice

    Ahhh – the good old days…

    Now the geezer stories about walking to school in the snow, uphill both ways, makes a lot more sense now.

    1. “Now…now”

      Just so you’re sure what tense i’m talking about.

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