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Geo-engineering

Discussion in 'Earth and Environmental Science' started by Yellow Fang, 25 Sep 2017.

  1. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
    Reading
    I have started reading a booked called, The Planet Remade by Oliver Morton, which is about geo-engineering. I have just read the chapter about volcano emissions (e.g. Pinatubo, Krakatau, Tambora) caused a bit of a cool down. Several interesting this happened:
    • sulphur dioxide was shot into the stratosphere were it combined with water vapour to produce an aerosol of sulphuric acid droplets;
    • the sulphuric acid droplets spread to cover a fair percentage of the earth reflected a percentage of light back into space;
    • the sulphuric acid droplets diffused direct sunlight before it hit the earth;
    • plant life grew more rapidly drawing down more CO2 because plants prefer diffuse light to direct sunlight;
    • the rate at which fungi broke down dead plants, releasing CO2, slowed down because the planet was cooler.
    That was interesting. I was aware of the reflecting light back into space effect, but not the others.
     
    amusicsite likes this.
  2. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    This is why climate science is so hard. There are many variables and knock on effects that are very hard to predict.
     
  3. classic33

    classic33 Veteran Geek

    With Krakatoa, the amount of dust thrown into the atmosphere was a bigger problem, world wide.

    It was also possible to go about your business at night, for a few days after, due to the light given off.

    Keep an eye on Italy and the Canary Islands for the next big one. Dust will be the least of the problems if either go.
     
  4. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
    Reading
    I finished that book quite a while ago. The author was not particularly succint. He had a discursive style. He wandered around the houses. Still, I thought it was a worthwhile read. I think he does make a reasonable point (at least I think he made it) that even hard-headed scientists are not totally political neutral. Even when they try to present just the facts, there are sins of omission as well as commission. I cannot remember the name of the scientist involved, but several decades ago we worried about whether a nuclear war would create a nuclear winter, which would kill us all. Nuclear warheads are not at large as they were because they can be delivered more accurately. When the scientist did the sums, he concluded there would not be a life-extinguishing nucler winter following a nuclear war. Well, few environmentally minded scientists are going to write that it's fine to have a nuclear war from a nuclear winter point of view, so he did some more research on other reasons why it was a bad idea.

    I went to a lecture at the Meterology department at Reading University once where the subject was geo-engineering. The lecturer was very against the idea. I gather most of them are. Barely anyone environmentally minded is for it. But if the consequences of climate change past 2 degrees Celcius is as bad as has been predicted, then the consequences of geo-engineering do not sound as bad.

    When I was at uni, I heard a social scientist describe hard scientists as naive realistists, because they thought they dealt only in facts, but did acknowledge how their own biases might affect their findings. I was impressed while studying an introduction to social science, the effort they went to root out or recognise bias, although it seems to me that many practitioners of subjects regarded as social science do not apply this effort to their own fields.
     
  5. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    I think geo-engineering is a good idea, just like genetic engineering is... It's all about having the right checks and balances in place first. You don't want to try and fix a problem like climate change, or food supply, only ti find out you have made it worse... I do think we will tinker though and probably end up being able to stabilise the environment to eliminate ice ages and other things our orbit could cause to change.
     
  6. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6406/1019

    I quite like this research. They recognised that very large scale wind and solar installations affect the local environment. It can do things like cause wind patterns to change, change the temperature and increase the amount of moisture in the air.

    So they looked at the effects of planting in the Sahara more than enough power generation to cover all the energy demands of the world. There is more than enough space in the Sahara, plenty of wind and sun.

    The likely effects of this would be to increase the amount of water in the environment and possibly an explosion of life that would attract even more.

    So solving an energy supply problem as well as making a desert area more rich in life. This is the sort of things we should do more, make something we need that also benefits the local environment. Rather than hurting it.
     
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