Climate Change

New Research Suggests Solar Geoengineering Could Safely Lower Global Temperatures

We should stop hemming and hawing and try building an emergency backup cooling system for the planet

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Harvard/SEAS

In his 1997 Reason article "Climate Control," physicist and sci-fi grandee Gregory Benford observed, "If we treated global warming as a technical problem instead of a moral outrage, we could cool the world." Benford reviewed proposals for reforestation and for fertilizing the oceans with iron to pull excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. He also considered such ideas as injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere and burning sulfur in ships to boost the reflective cloud-cover over the oceans.

This week, a new study in Nature Climate Change bolstered the case for solar radiation management by spreading sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere in order to lower the earth's thermostat.

There are reasonable concerns with this strategy. One of them has been that blocking enough solar radiation to bring down surface temperatures to around where they were at the beginning of the 20th century would greatly destabilize weather patterns. For instance, it could change the timing and extent of monsoon rains, thus harming ecosystems and farming.

Diehard environmentalist ideologues, on the other hand, have feared that it would work. Consequently, they have been adamantly opposing geoengineering experiments aiming to figure out how to moderate the planet's rising temperature. As Rutgers University environmental scientist Alan Robock has observed: "If humans perceive an easy technological fix to global warming that allows for 'business as usual,' gathering the national (particularly in the United States and China) and international will to change consumption patterns and energy infrastructure will be even more difficult."

This new study, "Halving warming with idealized solar geoengineering moderates key climate hazards," by Harvard engineer Peter Irvine and colleagues, finds that using solar geoengineering to reduce average temperatures by about half the amount temperatures would increase if atmospheric carbon doubled would not likely destabilize current weather patterns. They call this amount "half-SG."

Researchers found that half-SG not only cools the planet everywhere but also moderates changes in water availability and extreme precipitation in many places and offsets more than 85 percent of the increase in the intensity of hurricanes. Less than 0.5 percent of gloabl land would see the effects of climate change exacerbated, according to the calculations of the researchers.

"The places where solar geoengineering exacerbates climate change were those that saw the least climate change to begin with," said Peter Irvine, a postdoctoral research fellow at SEAS and lead author of the study, in a Harvard press release. "Previous work had assumed that solar geo-engineering would inevitably lead to winners and losers with some regions suffering greater harms; our work challenges this assumption. We find a large reduction in climate risk overall without significantly greater risks to any region."

This is good news. Now it's time for environmental activists to stop stymieing research on the development of an emergency backup cooling system for the planet.

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109 responses to “New Research Suggests Solar Geoengineering Could Safely Lower Global Temperatures

  1. If the same morons are in charge of cooling the Planet what are claiming warming is out of control, I am against it.

    They will probably put too much Sulfur Dioxide into the Stratosphere and we go into a premature Ice Age.

    1. I do like snow at Christmas…

      1. But do you like snow on 4th of July and shooting fireworks from the Washington DC Glacier?

    2. These shit stains dont know how this works, their models are consistently wrong, and yet people keep “SCIENCE” like it isnt really just voodoo, because NASA chimes in.

      Wake up! NASA is a government agency. When they were young and lean they put a man on the moon, now they seem to be more in the business of killing astronauts because bureaucracies get old and bloated and say stupid shit just to get more money.

      Environmentalists will not be happy until they engineer us back into an ice age and the population drops below 2 billion. Cold causes famine more than hot assholes.

      1. THIS!!^^

        A global experiment with poorly understood consequences is insane.

        And what happens when natural cooling overtakes the warming – millions starving due to crop failures.

        1. TOP WOMEN this time

          1. Not ‘bottom bitches’?

  2. You are out of your fucking mind.

    1. Bailey just gave up on even trying to be act Libertarian months ago.

      Bailey being the “Science Correspondent” at Reason reminds me of The Daily Show making up correspondent titles.

      1. This magazine a some housecleaning. Maybe they can hire some actual libertarians.

        1. There are not really any LIbertarians at Reason to know what a Libertarian is, to hire one.

          They have been lying for so long that Anarchists are Libertarians, their opinions are suspect.

      2. Bailey should just replace “Climate Change” with Zeus or Odin in everything he writes. It would read the same.

        1. When Zeus realizes that you are sacrificing a goat instead of a human, he will NOT be happy…

        2. No. If Odin gets involved, then we will have to deal with Loki’s shenanigans. Thor usually deals with him but sometimes he’s busy with the Avengers.

  3. “If humans perceive an easy technological fix to global warming that allows for ‘business as usual,’ gathering the national (particularly in the United States and China) and international will to change consumption patterns and energy infrastructure will be even more difficult.”

    I’m beginning to suspect that this whole thing might just be an excuse for social engineering.

    1. Welcome to the party, pal!

    2. Exactly. It’s not a problem. Its an excuse

    3. What took you so long? Social and economic engineering is all it is.

  4. But…but..SCIENCE demands that government get a cut.

    Anyway, be prepared for the chemtrails crowd to run with this one.

  5. “If we treated global warming as a technical problem instead of a moral outrage, we could cool the world.”

    How the hell can you create an all-controlling world government like that???

  6. Not sure if I’m totally comfortable with large scale engineering on that level, but it’s worth at least exploring the concept.

    1. But you’re comfortable with large scale economic and social engineering.

      1. Umm, no?
        That’s pretty dumb.

  7. “If humans perceive an easy technological fix to global warming that allows for ‘business as usual,’ gathering the national (particularly in the United States and China) and international will to change consumption patterns and energy infrastructure will be even more difficult.”

    Yeah, and it will also be less necessary, so what’s the problem? Oh, right, it isn’t about human well-being for some people, it’s about a social, economic, and political agenda.

    Having said that, I’m super skeptical about the solar geoengineering approach talked about here.

    1. L: Skepticism is warranted but let researchers proceed with some modest experiments to get a better idea of the risks and benefits.

      1. Taxpayer expense, I’m sure.

        Maybe Pelosi will only give them $1.375 billion.

        1. It wouldn’t actually cost much at all-you would just need some jets to burn high sulfur jet fuel at 40,000 feet

      2. Given the uncertainty of the influence of solar flux, and the even greater uncertainty about what the behavior of the current sunspot minimum might be on weather, and thus climate, it seems imperative that we first and foremost have a good solid fast-acting off switch for whatever plan is trotted out.

      3. I agree. I also think that that research should also include ways to incorporate resource pricing into those experiments/technologies – so that the end result is to create a pricing system that markets can use to solve the problem. eg – the entity that sequesters carbon is the entity that produces carbon credits (in the amount sequestered) which is what is used by mfrs of open combustion systems

        Otherwise, markets will have no incentive to solve anything and it will be up to govt to fix and we’ll be yapping about socialism and watermelons and BigOil and deniers forever.

        1. There’s nothing to “solve” you stupid fucking prog retard.

      4. Skepticism is warranted but let researchers proceed with some modest experiments to get a better idea of the risks and benefits.

        Skepticism is always warranted with science. It is even more warranted when it isn’t science. The “research” is not science, it is more silly games with computer climate models which climate science has substituted for reality.

  8. Engineered cooling could start a war. It’s one thing when the climate affecting is done mysteriously over a long time it’s another when you can put your hand on the cause and effect.

  9. Great idea; ignore God’s control, or Darwin’s control, depending on your belief system, and let some bureaucrats and technicians solve a problem that does no exist.

    Hey folks, the planet slowly cools and then heats up over a very long time frame cycle. The ice age was not caused by man. The coming apocalypse is not caused by man, if it is in fact coming. It is a natural cycle that needs to be allowed to carry itself out. Just move away from the coast and relax.

    1. If we give these ‘scientists’ enough money right now maybe they can solve how the Sun will go Red Giant in a few billion years and boil off our oceans.

  10. No thank you. This the same publishing house which ticks its faux-science nose into every political campaign it can think of, from guns to immigration to #metoo, and has gone out of its way to back the fake hockey stick curve and warming alarmists.

    Anything they recommend in the way of policy, I figure it’s a good indication to go the other way.

  11. “We should stop hemming and hawing and try building an emergency backup cooling system for the planet”

    With all due respect,
    that’s fn retarded

    1. I wonder who are the ‘We?’

      And what’s stopping anyone from building this system?

      1. What’s stopping them is several people with the insane idea that what they earn is theirs, and it does not belong to the collective.

        1. In other news Reason, like their MSM idols, seems desperate to avoid, France is currently seeing more riots in the 18th straight weekend of yellow vests protests.
          4 and a half months strong, but “nothing to see here!”
          Eh, “free” minds and “free” markets?

    2. How does such a plan not lead to global governance and/or war? Someone will benefit from either warming or cooling. What happens when an institution decides to directly control whether we have one or the other? At least with AGW it is nearly every country causing the “negative outcomes” as a side effect rather than primary intent.
      This is even without considering that taking actions to directly control the world’s climate might not work or will have disastrous consequences.
      Bailey is only good as a science writer because he is interested in what is possible. His problem is he lacks skepticism and an interest in considering negative outcomes from what he wants to implement. He has an unshaking faith in his appeals to authority if it confirms his hopes/fears

  12. It’s worth noting the last several thousand years of warming and cooling cycles. My history is a little rough, but it goes something like this:

    Increasing wealth as the bronze age matures….
    * Cooling around 1200BC sends the Sea People south into the eastern Med, disrupting societies all over the map, sending Greek society into a dark age.
    * Warming around 800BC rewakens Greek society, bring in literacy and prosperity.
    * Further warming around 200BC brings Roman prosperity and Pax Romana
    * Cooling around 150-250 AD brings plagues which stop the Romans, shuffle Huns and Mongols into western Europe and end the western peace and prosperity.
    * Medieval warming period around 800 AD beings such warmth that Greenland has cattle ranches and the Vikings find North America.
    * Little Ice Age brings in the Bubonic and other plagues which wipe out 1/3 or 1/2 half of European population.
    * Mid-1800s warming brings us to today, with unprecedented peace and prosperity.

    And now we’re supposed to cool the damn place down?!? Fuck no.

    1. Uh there were 2 world wars between then and now.

      1. And a buttload of Olympics. So?

      2. O I C, you think the wars mean no peace.

        You’re wrong. The period has overall been more peaceful than most.

    2. * Little Ice Age brings in the Bubonic and other plagues which wipe out 1/3 or 1/2 half of European population.

      Go on…

  13. I’m for whatever works. As for the moral component, obviously the most powerful interests in the conversation are going to whine the hardest about any damage to their bottom line. That’s how it goes with oil companies and white people.

    1. Except you’re the one constantly whining.

      “That’s how it goes with oil companies and white people.”

      Like that

    2. the most powerful interests in the conversation

      Governments?

    3. “As for the moral component, obviously the most powerful interests in the conversation are going to whine the hardest about any damage to their bottom line. That’s how it goes with oil companies and white people.”

      Forgetting again that the US has already been achieving progress related to this problem.

      Tony, you’re as bad a troll as LC. Things go through your Zealot Filter and come out all fucked up. The whining quoted in the article above is being done by the environmental extremists, of which you frequently appear to be a member. Somehow you can turn that into whining being done by “white people and oil companies”.

      I’d submit that part of the reason that more hasn’t been done is that the extremism on the left on this matter is so extreme that it basically blocks rational progress. You and yours are hurting more than you’re helping…?.

      1. Its pretty sad Reason uses troll socks, like bevis, to get more webtraffic.

        1. You’re more tolerant of these idiots than I am. People like Tony and PB should be forced to wear remote controlled shock collars.

          1. I’m not too harsh because I suspect many of the trolls on here are Reason interns and staff trying to boost web traffic.Conflict brings in more web traffic.

            So, not even real people with real opinions.

    4. Tony, I think we should do it. And we can pay for it by implementing my organ harvesting plan. If we harvest and sell the organs from enough progressives, like you Tony, I think we can really do it.

  14. Don’t assume that the folks chicken littling about climate change actual care about climate change. It’s all about power, control, and the Benjamin’s. Solutions are not what they are looking for.

    1. It’s all about power, control, and the Benjamin’s.

      Racist!

      1. I’m racist! You’re racist! Everyone is racist!

        1. You know who’s most racist?

          The climate!

        2. Hmm…
          But it occurs to me now that this concern over “warming” is interesting.
          Black and brown peoples predominantly come from warmer climates.
          Light skinned peoples are native to the colder areas of habitation.
          So is the anti global warming position, perhaps, inherently racist?
          I mean, they’re explicitly seeking to shift the direction of climate from one that would be more comfortable for “black and brown bodies” to one which would favor and be more comfortable for white folks.
          Green? No,
          Just another dog whistle for white supremacy

  15. Don’t mess with my moral outrage!

    1. Lol

  16. Or just switch to nuclear which we know how to do already.

  17. “If we treated global warming as a technical problem instead of a moral outrage, we could cool the world.”

    But then, how can we punish sinners?

  18. “As Rutgers University environmental scientist Alan Robock has observed: “If humans perceive an easy technological fix to global warming that allows for ‘business as usual,’ gathering the national (particularly in the United States and China) and international will to change consumption patterns and energy infrastructure will be even more difficult.””

    This man may be a scientist, but that is a religious statement.

    1. This man may be a scientist, but that is a religious statement.

      Would have to be. The “business as usual” scenario is the representative concentration pathway RPC8.5 scenario. It is the worse case scenario with preposterous assumptions. It is also the scenario that is used to generate the scary scenarios.

  19. What about an emergency heating system?
    Ice ages suck.

    1. Like a fire?

      1. Or a really big volcano.

  20. If we treated global warming as a technical problem instead of a moral outrage,

    What if we treated it like the religion it really is?

    1. Did you catch the reason article about how markets
      recognized global warming as real?
      Rather than this being markets realizing governments
      thought global warming is real.

      1. Did you not understand that markets are responding to global warming propaganda, not data?

  21. This new study, “Halving warming with idealized solar geoengineering moderates key climate hazards,” by Harvard engineer Peter Irvine and colleagues, finds that using solar geoengineering to reduce average temperatures by about half the amount temperatures would increase if atmospheric carbon doubled would not likely destabilize current weather patterns. They call this amount “half-SG.”

    Cool. Peter is confident that this will work exactly as planned, I’m sure. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Looking at real-life data, I’m trying to figure out what the big crisis is they keep talking about. Every category of climate disaster is either stable or trending better, not worse. We certainly are not “killing the planet,” as NASA data shows CO2 is literally adding about 150 megatons of plant life to Earth each year. For in stance, see
      Fern?ndez-Mart?nez, M., Sardans, J., Chevallier, F., Ciais, P., Obersteiner, M., Vicca, S., Canadell, J.G., Bastos, A., Friedlingstein, P., Sitch, S., Piao, S.L., Janssens, I.A. and Pe?uelas, J. 2019. Global trends in carbon sinks and their relationships with CO2 and temperature. Nature Climate Change 9: 73-79.

  22. This is ridiculous. On Reason magazine we gotta read this crap? If you cooled the planet you would be murdering countless people. Putting aside the conceit of thinking you actually have enough knowledge to achieve your objective without massive side effects. If anyone is allowed to mess with the climate then they should have to put up a 100 trillion dollar bond to protect the rest of us against their negligence.

    By all means go to nuclear power, if the free market supports it. But as far as I can tell, even if the climate is warming (not clear), even if humans are a cause, much less a primary cause (debatable), I’ve yet to see any serious possibility that the warming would be detrimental overall. This is not a warm planet.

    Perhaps wait about 200 years to see if extremely limited amount of somewhat accurate information is indicative of anything more than natural processes acting in a sine wave.

    1. ” If you cooled the planet you would be murdering countless people. ”

      It might change the monsoons and harm ecosystems and farming. Doesn’t say anything about people being negatively affected.

  23. A sci-fi dystopian nightmare waiting to happen. Idiotic.

  24. What would motivate one to buy a load of sulfur, take it in a ship to the middle of the ocean, and burn it? Send these scientists back to the drawing board. Keep doing so until they can come up with something for which there is a demand on the market. A better battery, perhaps. Ron writes as though we’ll all get rich selling each other our sequestered carbon.

    1. The sulfur would be burned as part of jet fuel at high altitude and could be shut off pretty quickly if it produced any undesirable effects. Worth a shot I think, especially if we only have 10 years left, and batteries won’t be able to replace fossil fuels in transportation for the foreseeable future. They could replace fossil fuel power plants with nuclear today, but the econuts will have none of that.

      1. “and batteries won’t be able to replace fossil fuels in transportation for the foreseeable future”

        I never claimed they would. I suggested that those interested in a market solution might turn their research to an area where there is a demand, like improved batteries. I still don’t understand why a pilot would buy sulfur and add it to fuel which is perfectly adequate as it is. I don’t see passengers shelling out extra money for the privilege of flying in sulfur burning airplane.

        “but the econuts will have none of that.”

        It’s hardly surprising. Ron is constantly telling us that nuclear will only be profitable if safety regulations are rolled back.

        1. Well you’re an idiot so your failure to understand what is being discussed is no surprise.

      2. We have more than 10 years left. Way more.
        Boy, it was just what 2000 when we only had 4 years left.

        1. We had 12 years left in 1988….and we still have 12 years left.

          And always will.

  25. April 1st is still 16 days away

  26. Ron,

    In all seriousness, you can’t believe this is close to being a good idea. So far no models have been accurate, not even on the low end. While people scream “the science is settled” – which as a scientist it’s scared because science is never settled and always open to knew understanding – everything they would happen hasn’t. Polar ice is still here. Polar bears too. Hurricanes are not more frequent or stronger. There is still snow.

    We are told it’s CO2, but than it’s methane.

    So you want these people, to now engineer to solar geoengineer climate. And you see this as a good idea?

    Look, I could get onboard..possibly..if you wanted to put satellites up that diverted the sun’s energy. Than if it gets too cold, that you could redraw the energy back. Downside – possible weapon.

    Finally, why is a warm Earth bad? Carbon is a building block, more people die from cold than heat, etc..

  27. Considering that sulfur dioxide is considered one of the most dangerous greenbouse gases and quite readily converts to sulfuric acid in the presence of water and oxygen, I would be careful with any half thought idea like this…..the global warming crowd have made a stink about SO2 for ages, but now it’s suddenly okay to pump the statosphere full of the shit? It’s they who are ‘full of it,’ as per usual…..btw, ten year veteran of synthetic chemistry here.

  28. Here we go again with the notion that Earth’s ideal temperature was that at the beginning of the 20th century. Our planet has experienced a wide range of climatic conditions over time when humans could have had no influence. That we’re driving ourselves to disaster is a political, as much as scientific statement. So let’s continue to enjoy the prosperity that economic freedom and Capitalism brings us, including the spontaneous adaptations to whatever a changing climate brings.

  29. Talk about your acid rain!!! SO2 + H2O = H2SO3, aka sulfurous acid. Complete oxidation provides SO3 to make sulfuric acid.

    The whole world would be on acid, just like Ron.

    1. Whatever happened to acid rain?

      Ron Bailey is too young to remember the “Acid Rain” hysteria.

  30. I’m pretty sure there was a James Bond movie in which a villain tried to pull off this exact same scheme…

  31. This may be *the* single most authoritarian thing I have ever seen in Reason.

    W.T.H.?

    Sure, lets take a near-infinitely chaotic system that we are just barely starting to be able to understand, while still not grasping all the various inputs to it or their influences, and mess with it on a global scale that will affect every single living thing on it!

    Brilliant!

    What could *POSSIBLY* go wrong?

    Bailey needs to get a better crack dealer, the stuff he is smoking is contaminated with something really bad.

    I’m going back into my comfy little hole and locking the door shut.

  32. The assholes who run the climate change show will never go for this. They simply don’t want a technological or scientific solution: they want a political/economic one!

    If it were not so, they would have embraced modern atomic energy instead of scaremongering the public by pushing the notion that it’s the same as atomic bombs and radiation is both inevitable and deadly.

    I’d much rather rely on atomic energy than start tampering with the stratosphere, but what I’m not willing to try is the global authoritarian government imposing a peasant lifestyle on all but the ruling elites that the movement wants. That’s not science!

    I also want an acknowledgement that climate change is as much a normal cyclical processs as continental drift or ocean currents. It was happening not just before humans but even before there was any life here. At best, humans in sufficient numbers might contribute to or slow whatever process is already in motion, but to argue that humans alone are the cause and could be the solution if they only handed over all autonomy to their betters is about as “scientific” as a caveman riding a dinosaur.

    1. An ostrich is a cousin of dinosaurs, so humans have ridden dinosaurs.

  33. “…This is good news. Now it’s time for environmental activists to stop stymieing research on the development of an emergency backup cooling system for the planet.”

    And ruin a perfectly good racket? Pass.

    1. ‘Climate control’.

      Man, the hubris we possess.

  34. Ron, there is no ‘global warming’ problem.

    There is no ‘climate change’ problem.

    There IS a problem in that the planet occasionally freezes and kills off a whole lot of life. THAT is the problem we could look to rectify.

    When the planet was quite a bit warmer and had a LOT more CO2 in the atmosphere, life flourished.

    Why are so many so adamant about reversing that?

    1. When the planet was quite a bit warmer and had a LOT more CO2 in the atmosphere, life flourished.

      There hasn’t been this much CO2 in the atmosphere for the past 800,000 years.

      1. Non sequitur.
        Has the earth had higher temperatures, greater CO2, and flourishing life simultaneously?

      2. There hasn’t been this much CO2 in the atmosphere for the past 800,000 years.

        Yes. We got down to 180 ppm during the last Ice Age.

        That’s 30 ppm above the point where plants stop producing oxygen. Before that Ice Age CO2 was in the thousands of parts per million.

        We have no cushion today.

        And you idiots want to destroy the tiny bit we have.

  35. Treating global warming as a technical problem is vastly superior to treating it as a social problem. Solving technical problems is a question of costs and benefits, and that’s vastly superior to the left’s solution to global warming as a social problem–and using authoritarian socialism to force us to sacrifice our standard of living. If your opposition to any solution is grounded in something other than opposition to the left’s authoritarian and socialist solutions, then you got lost somewhere along the way.

    1. You’ve already lost, Ken.
      You concede that there is a “problem”.
      Not only that, you further concede that there is a “solution” and that Man can provide a “solution”.
      Going even further, you concede that both the “problem” (warming/change) and “solution” (cooling/control) are those which are stated by your ostensible opponents.
      If that’s going to be your approach (to get surrender with terms vs abject capitulation), maybe just sit this one out.

      1. What evidence would persuade you that there was a problem associated with climate change? Any evidence at all?

        1. What evidence would persuade you that there was a problem associated with climate change? Any evidence at all?

          There isn’t any evidence.

        2. What evidence would persuade you that there was a problem associated with climate change? Any evidence at all?

          Something like vital atmospheric components dipping close to levels where life ceases to be possible.

        3. Maybe I’d accept “that there was a problem associated with climate change” if all of the “problem[s] associated with climate change” thus far had any evidence showing that they were anything other than shitty weather, unusual but not unprecedented.

          It seems every time a quite normal weather event occurs there is someone claiming that it has never happened before. If we were to accept such claims we would have to conclude that there had never ever been hurricanes on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, blizzards in the Midwest or Northeast, tornadoes in “Tornado Alley” or chinooks in the prairies of the Canada.

  36. Leftards don’t want solutions, they want problems to bitch about. They’ll never forgive free market advocates for being right about how to fight poverty.

    -jcr

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