Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

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D-503
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Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby D-503 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 5:37 am UTC

My position is that governments should immediately start solar radiation management programs using aresols and cloud seeding to stabilize global temperature. Global warming is expected to displace populations through sea level rise, cause food supply issues through desertification, and cause extinctions. Furthermore, it poses an existential threat to humanity due to the possibility of a run away greenhouse effect. Switching to zero emission transportation, industry, and energy sources would not stop the warming right away even if the switch could be made immediately, and the transition will be slow. Interventions to raise the earth's albedo would take effect immediately, they would not require the same level of political will, and they could be implemented without economic disruptions. Their side effects, although uncertain, are not predicted to be worse than those of increasing global temperature, and may be avoidable through careful engineering. Moreover, if there are unexpected side effects that exacerbate earth's climate problems, these interventions can be stopped or reduced to a safe level. The recovery of the ozone layer after the banning of CFCs shows that damage caused by other aresols is unlikely to be permanent if it occurs.

I believe other measures to reduce carbon emissions should also be taken. Solar radiation management does not address ocean acidification. However, solutions like electric vehicles, carbon taxes, and renewable energy are not being adopted quickly enough to stop further warming. The risks posed by increased warming are greater than those posed by solar radiation management.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby pogrmman » Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:39 am UTC

D-503 wrote:My position is that governments should immediately start solar radiation management programs using aresols and cloud seeding to stabilize global temperature. Global warming is expected to displace populations through sea level rise, cause food supply issues through desertification, and cause extinctions. Furthermore, it poses an existential threat to humanity due to the possibility of a run away greenhouse effect. Switching to zero emission transportation, industry, and energy sources would not stop the warming right away even if the switch could be made immediately, and the transition will be slow. Interventions to raise the earth's albedo would take effect immediately, they would not require the same level of political will, and they could be implemented without economic disruptions.


I agree with a lot of what you say here, except nothing I've read shows that there is a risk of a runaway greenhouse effect due to human causes. If I remember right, our emissions of CO2 would need to be several orders of magnitude larger than they currently are.

What's bugged me is people don't take global warming seriously enough. Even in the best case of reducing emissions, the rise in the oceans will be devastating. I do like the idea of raising the albedo of the planet, but the technologies seem too untested.

You seem too optimistic in saying there wouldn't be economic disruptions and wouldn't require much political will. No matter what, it would need significant cooperation on the international level, more than what happens today. Also, economic disruptions are hard to predict. Upscaling the production of things that reduce albedo may cost billions or trillions. Reducing solar insolation may reduce crop yields -- most crops like lots of sunlight.

What about the emissions almost certainly produced during the manufacturing of these products? Are they able to offset enough solar insolation to accomodate for that?

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby elasto » Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:24 am UTC

Personally I think that it's inevitable that it will occur, but there's an additional complication you seem to have missed: There will be winners from global warming as well as losers - and the winners may object to this plan.

For example, what if Russia is a big winner? What if raised temperatures warm Siberia enough to permit farming, and permit access to vast new oil deposits in the Arctic? They may object to any form of temperature reduction, and if it's done against their will, maybe they'd deliberately add high powered greenhouse gasses to compensate.

Bit sci-fi I know, but my point is the political dimension is hard to quantify here.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby cphite » Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:32 pm UTC

D-503 wrote:My position is that governments should immediately start solar radiation management programs using aresols and cloud seeding to stabilize global temperature. Global warming is expected to displace populations through sea level rise, cause food supply issues through desertification, and cause extinctions.


And these aerosols... they've been tested? They're actually going to work and, once released on a planetary scale, they're not going to have any unintended effects?

Furthermore, it poses an existential threat to humanity due to the possibility of a run away greenhouse effect.


Yeah... uh, no... not really.

Switching to zero emission transportation, industry, and energy sources would not stop the warming right away even if the switch could be made immediately, and the transition will be slow. Interventions to raise the earth's albedo would take effect immediately, they would not require the same level of political will, and they could be implemented without economic disruptions. Their side effects, although uncertain, are not predicted to be worse than those of increasing global temperature, and may be avoidable through careful engineering.


Couple of things... first, you vastly underestimate the political ramifications of changing the climate on a global scale. Because even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that this works exactly as intended, there are still going to be winners and losers. Yes, it's true that global warming is going to adversely affect a lot of places; but the effects aren't all adverse. As someone else mentioned, Russia stands to potentially gain a whole lot of farmland; you don't think Russia is going to object to a plan that stops that from happening?

And as far as this whole uncertain but not predicted to be worse thing... honestly, as far as we've come as a species at predicting weather at the local level, we're still pretty bad at the global level. For example, it's been suggested that the lack of air traffic after 9/11 actually affected the temperature in North America. Nobody saw that coming. So you want to throw something in the air across the entire globe? I'm sure there are models for what will happen - but how close those are to what actually happens will be interesting to see. For example, during the deployment - which obviously would take some time - what kind of storms will be caused by the temperature variations? How will the flow of the atmosphere be disrupted? What happens when this stuff starts coming down? Will this stuff stay evenly disbursed (enough) that it works, or will it get pooled and strung along by the winds?

Moreover, if there are unexpected side effects that exacerbate earth's climate problems, these interventions can be stopped or reduced to a safe level. The recovery of the ozone layer after the banning of CFCs shows that damage caused by other aresols is unlikely to be permanent if it occurs.


Sure... but there is a pretty massive range between acceptable and permanent. It depends on the nature of the unexpected side effects.
I believe other measures to reduce carbon emissions should also be taken. Solar radiation management does not address ocean acidification. However, solutions like electric vehicles, carbon taxes, and renewable energy are not being adopted quickly enough to stop further warming. The risks posed by increased warming are greater than those posed by solar radiation management.


Given that we don't actually know the risks posed by solar radiation management, that's a bit presumptive.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby sardia » Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:53 am UTC

How about we drill towards the core with a nuke on board, and then detonating it. This will cause world wide volcanic eruptions, reducing the albedo of the planet, lowering the temperature. In order to raise the funds, we should demand one billion, no, one trillion dollars from the world.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby pogrmman » Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:14 am UTC

sardia wrote:How about we drill towards the core with a nuke on board, and then detonating it. This will cause world wide volcanic eruptions, reducing the albedo of the planet, lowering the temperature. In order to raise the funds, we should demand one billion, no, one trillion dollars from the world.


I don't think a trillion would be enough for R&D on that drill. You'd probably have to use it to start a business to get more money for R&D and freeze yourself until technology has advanced far enough to actually perform this feat...

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:40 am UTC

However, on the upsides of the suggestion, aerosol/particulate solutions can be very short-term in effect. So we would have the latitude to slowly ramp up, looking for any unexpected/adverse side-effects, safe in the knowledge we can switch it off and the effects will die out within a year or two. Or, if the effects are mostly positive, keep ramping it up.

As I say, I think it's inevitable that we will do this because there's not a chance in hell the world will hit its emissions targets. Because greenhouse gasses hang around for so long, we'll need 'band-aid' solutions like this to address our past sins. By that point, it'll be insufficient merely to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:40 am UTC

elasto wrote:and the effects will die out within a year or two.
Or the ecosystems, if we get it badly wrong... Either way, no more worries... ;)

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:08 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:Or the ecosystems, if we get it badly wrong... Either way, no more worries... ;)

We aren't going to get it that badly wrong. We're basically mimicking what happens when a volcano goes off, and they go off all the time.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby HES » Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:24 pm UTC

Because volcanoes have never destroyed ecosystems...
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:23 pm UTC

Not small ones, no. As I said, we can ramp it up as gently as we like.

(From the context, when Soupspoon said 'the ecosystems' they were referring to 'the entirety of life on earth', so I'm responding to that specific fear.)

In terms of smaller, isolated ecosystems, remember that it's a given that many are going to get destroyed from here on out. That's locked in. We're long past prevention and deep into mitigation.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:01 pm UTC

elasto wrote:However, on the upsides of the suggestion, aerosol/particulate solutions can be very short-term in effect. So we would have the latitude to slowly ramp up, looking for any unexpected/adverse side-effects, safe in the knowledge we can switch it off and the effects will die out within a year or two. Or, if the effects are mostly positive, keep ramping it up.

As I say, I think it's inevitable that we will do this because there's not a chance in hell the world will hit its emissions targets. Because greenhouse gasses hang around for so long, we'll need 'band-aid' solutions like this to address our past sins. By that point, it'll be insufficient merely to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.


Higher levels of particulates in the air strikes me as an obvious health hazard. Yes, yes, I know they're being targeted at an altitude well above that, but...yeah, that stuff is going to come down. You could potentially cause very significant health risks in this manner.

Yeah, climate change is definitely gonna happen, but that doesn't justify ANY reaction to it. Poking at the climate at a global level is, so far, not something we're very good at. Embracing darkening the skies is probably a very high risk decision.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:00 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Higher levels of particulates in the air strikes me as an obvious health hazard. Yes, yes, I know they're being targeted at an altitude well above that, but...yeah, that stuff is going to come down. You could potentially cause very significant health risks in this manner.

Absolutely. Which is why I don't think we're gonna do it until we've warmed the planet by 3 degrees, with another 3 degrees locked in.

But by that time there's going to be hundreds of millions of refugees, and territorial wars and terrorism that will make us wish Isis were still around. A bit of smog or acid rain is going to be the least of our concerns.

Yeah, climate change is definitely gonna happen, but that doesn't justify ANY reaction to it. Poking at the climate at a global level is, so far, not something we're very good at. Embracing darkening the skies is probably a very high risk decision.

We've already taken the high risk decision by not moving off of fossil fuels yet. That has given us decent economic growth over the last two decades (not that the common man has benefited from it), but boy are we going to have to pay for it.

Part of that is going to be trying unproven technologies like SRM and crossing our fingers that the benefits outweigh the risks. It'll be a Hail Mary but one we won't be able to afford not to try.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:08 pm UTC

We have taken A high risk decision. Well...dunno how much is risk, really. The outcome seems rather predictable, not a matter of odds. But costly decision, sure.

This would be another. Trying to fix one error by taking desperate, high risk actions can get you in a lot of trouble. When it's on a planetary level, that's quite concerning. Smog and acid rain, in addition to the costs of warming can magnify the negative effects, rather than reducing them.

Basically, global warming is the result of our global tinkering. Other results we have achieved include adding radioactive material to essentially everything via bomb tests, ozone depletion, etc. So far, our record does not look great.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby lorb » Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:40 pm UTC

Maybe the whole discussion should shift a little from comparing "massive solar radiation management" vs "do nothing" to "increase research and start testing of solar radiation management" vs whatever else we would do with those resources.
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:49 pm UTC

Research, adaptation to changing climate, reduction of fuel usage(the current main thrust, albeit with fairly limited success), or casting about for other options.

Strictly speaking, we could even pursue other kinds of solar radiation management. Putting reflective stuff in orbit would reduce insolation, and shouldn't pose the same atmospheric threats that pumping crap into atmo does. But, costly.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby roflwaffle » Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:59 pm UTC

We could, but it's probably not the best bang for our buck. There's a lot of blacktop and asphalt roofing out there that's pretty dark, and there are still a ton of things we could do in terms of renewable energy/efficiency, especially in building design.

Commenting on the results, Helene Muri, of the University of Oslo, said: "These modelling experiments have highlighted the new risks associated with solar radiation management. The safest option is, of course, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and aim for a more sustainable way of living and managing the planet."

Messing with things more may make certain parts of the climate switching between meta-stable states more likely.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby D-503 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 6:20 am UTC

Sorry, I had some bad information about the possibility of a runaway greenhouse effect. Upon further research:

What my results show is that if you put about ten times as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as you would get from burning all the coal, oil, and gas—about 30,000 parts per million—then you could cause a runaway greenhouse today.

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There remain other "tipping point" scenarios that should spur immediate action. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet leading to a rapid, irreversible rise in sea level is one.

I am in favor of SRM using aerosols and cloud seeding in particular because they seem like the most pragmatic options. Space mirrors would be better in terms of adverse side-effects and ongoing costs, but I don't think there are any governments that will fund them anytime soon. Cool roofs would take a long time to deploy at scale and I have not seen any reports suggesting they could provide sufficient cooling to counteract global warming.

I see aerosols as a stopgap solution. They can be gradually ramped up to global coverage without a large up-front cost, we could start deploying them almost immediately, and in the short-term they provide a large amount of cooling per unit of money. I suspect a handful of research teams with modest grand funding could create a noticeable reduction in warming within the next 5 years. Maintaining a sufficient level of aerosols to fully counteract global warming could be expensive in the long run, so I think we should eventually switch to space mirrors once they are ready. This paper suggests the cost of using aerosols to fully mitigate global warming could be hundreds of billions of dollars annually: http://link.springer.com/article/10.100 ... 006-9101-y

Sulfate is the most commonly suggested aerosol for SRM perhaps because it occurs naturally in volcanic eruptions so we are familiar with its environmental effects. It is far from perfect. For one, it is toxic, but when deployed directly into the stratosphere over the oceans, it poses far less of a health risk than the sulfate released into the troposphere by the burning of fossil fuels. Sulfate aerosols can also weaken the ozone layer by reacting with residual CFCs. On the plus side, it is cheap. The deployment costs would likely be dominated by the operational and administrative costs of launching it into the upper atmosphere monitoring its effects.

Most if not all governments would opt to prevent climate change. 177 of the 190 negotiating signed the Paris agreement on climate change. The main sticking point seems to be the level of carbon reduction countries will accede to due to the economic impact of placing limits on emissions. I have not heard of any government that is seeking to perpetuate global warming for agricultural benefits.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:12 am UTC

"Luckily, our handsomest politicians came up with a solution to global warming. Once in a while we drop a large chunk of ice into the oceans. Of course,the greenhouse gases are still building up. So it takes a larger chunk of ice every time, thus solving the problem once and for all."

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby jewish_scientist » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:44 pm UTC

I am talking in very broad terms in this post. What I mean is the pronouns 'us' and 'we' refer to the planet Earth, not to the species living on Earth.

I find the idea of Solar Radiation Management (SRM) very... wasteful. We have only one outside source of energy: sunlight. This is a resource which will not run out anytime soon, has a dependable transport system and is found almost everywhere on the planet. Right now we are not handling it correctly, which results in a lot of bad things happening. However, to intentionally limit a resource because we do not currently know how to use it is a very misguided idea. It is like someone who burns some of their money because they have trouble balancing their check book. Imagine trying to explain the modern energy crisis to aliens that already know about SRM.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby lorb » Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:20 pm UTC

I'd say this concern ranks very low on the list of possible problems of SRM, especially if compared to the magnitude and acuteness of the problem it wants to solve.
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:40 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:I am talking in very broad terms in this post. What I mean is the pronouns 'us' and 'we' refer to the planet Earth, not to the species living on Earth.


Oh, I don't give a crap about the Earth, save as is relevant to the species on it. The earth is more important than other orbiting rocks specifically because of that life, and the environment for harboring it. Nobody cares much if a dead rock heats very slightly.

I find the idea of Solar Radiation Management (SRM) very... wasteful. We have only one outside source of energy: sunlight. This is a resource which will not run out anytime soon, has a dependable transport system and is found almost everywhere on the planet. Right now we are not handling it correctly, which results in a lot of bad things happening. However, to intentionally limit a resource because we do not currently know how to use it is a very misguided idea. It is like someone who burns some of their money because they have trouble balancing their check book. Imagine trying to explain the modern energy crisis to aliens that already know about SRM.


I would imagine that shielding planets to get them to a more manageable temperature would be entirely normal and reasonable to species a step up the kardishev scale.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby moody7277 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:39 pm UTC

Instead of aerosols in the atmosphere, how about a giant openable coronographic mask? Leave it shut for about half an hour when it's solar noon over the mid-Pacific, and you won't bother too many people. You can have photovoltaic cells on the sunward side to collect and send down the energy that gets shut out.
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby ucim » Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:37 pm UTC

moody7277 wrote:...how about a giant openable coronographic mask? Leave it shut for about half an hour when it's solar noon over the mid-Pacific...
Uhhh... how giant? You are essentially putting a shadow on the earth, and it has to be roughly as big as the shadow you want to cast. Unless you're thinking in terms of planetary dyson spheres, it will be in orbit, and the shadow will wax and wane with the relative position of the earth, sun, and mask. Even geostationary, it would basically cast a moving shadow that, for any given place, would last only a few minutes.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:26 pm UTC

Theoretically possible as a mega-project, likely with a range of shades in orbit so as to smooth the decrease of sunlight, but that's still a pretty serious project to take up financially speaking. Probably not practical.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Aug 23, 2016 5:00 pm UTC

That is a massive understatement. We can't put men into orbit currently in the US. We haven't sent man out of the Earth-Moon system. The Space Station requires massive amounts of maintenance and if it were higher there is no indication that we could keep it running. And last but most importantly, we can't keep the streets paved adequately, and they are right outside our door.

The closest we can get to geoengineering on that scale currently involve global thermonuclear war, which I don't think is what the OP has in mind. To build anything massive in orbit we would have to bring that mass here from somewhere else. It would have to be configured so that it couldn't ever come down on our heads due to inadvertence. You can't have an oops moment and say sorry. Primum non nocere.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby lorb » Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:25 am UTC

Besides that it would simply take way too long. Building the 3 gorges dam took 10 years. The new WTC complex is still not yet finished and won't be until about 2021. And those construction projects are extremely simple and tiny in comparison to anything that is big enough to cast a huge shadow on earth. And they didn't require all the building material and workers to be sent to space beforehand. If those simple things take us 10+ years, that megaproject is taking way too long. Even 10 years is somewhat long considering the place we are at now.
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:59 am UTC

As we probably want to develop these skills, anyway, develop the means to bring in a metal-heavy asteroid into the desired mid-position, spin it up to a small amount and use a set of automated refinery/constructor machines to take the material, construct it outward, 'equatorially' upwards and outwards (the slight spin to stabilise this and define it) in a process of (designed-in) ermergent collaborative effort by the machines that haven't yet worn out or been damaged....

With wise development (admitedly over far greater time than the construction time), we may not need to loft more than a fraction of the mass we eventually get converted into sun-shade/whatever. If sun-shade is what we're looking for. A bet there'd be social revolt at the idea, for a number of reasons.)

(Although I'd personally prefer to perform astroarchaeology on any asteroid we dig into, at least in the early days of discovery whether doing the above or hollowing/inflating for a habitat or just extracting materials with no new nterest in what kind of husk we leave. That'd complicated the process a little.)

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby lorb » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:22 pm UTC

The point is. Compared to that plan, solar radiation management (SRM) with aerosols looks really easy, cheap and sane. Instead what we should be looking for is something that is doable in a timeframe of less than 10 years, is more cost-effective than SRM and has less risk attached. Or really do release immense amount of aerosols into the air because we didn't come up with something that is realistically achievable within the next few years.
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:11 am UTC

Bringing stuff in to orbit with the current techniques generates a shitload of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. Partly due to fuel itself (LOX + kerosine), but even LH2 + LOX needs to be created, which currently is mostly done with a CO2 expensive process. This increase the amount of stuff you need to bring into orbit (because you have to compensate for that CO2 emission too): The rocket equation upon the rocket equation.
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby sardia » Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:47 am UTC

Why don't we detonate nuclear weapons? It'll provide plenty of aerosols for nuclear winter and they're already sitting on top of ready to fire rockets. Same effect as cloudseeding but already up and running.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby svenman » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:51 am UTC

sardia wrote:Why don't we detonate nuclear weapons? It'll provide plenty of aerosols for nuclear winter and they're already sitting on top of ready to fire rockets. Same effect as cloudseeding but already up and running.

On the off chance that this isn't a troll, if you are seriously asking this, you obviously have forgotten about nuclear fallout.
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:38 pm UTC

Fallout's mostly a ground burst thing. Air bursts are not all that big a deal, and rather a lot of them have already been done.

Granted, I suspect there was some sarcasm there, but in terms of risks and what not, it's not actually all that different from other large scale tinkering.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby svenman » Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:30 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Fallout's mostly a ground burst thing. Air bursts are not all that big a deal, and rather a lot of them have already been done.

I'm not that familiar with the effects of nuclear detonations taking varying conditions into account, but if we're talking about air bursts with little fallout, where would significant amounts of aerosols come from?
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Tyndmyr
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:51 pm UTC

There is a tradeoff there, yeah. Ground bursts do throw up a lot more shade, which is intrinsically connected to producing fallout. Shade is shade, really, the fact that it wouldn't be aerosols specifically doesn't actually matter that much.

However, even air bursts can create pretty significant clouds, etc. Fears of nuclear winter basically stem from all of this junk, which is why balancing out global warming with nuclear winter gets jokingly tossed around occasionally. However, people tend to frequently underestimate just how big the earth and it's climate are. It's really hard to budge the needle in the long term. Humanity as a whole has blown up quite a lot of nukes, and it hasn't really done much to the earth's temperature as a whole. The most likely result would be "not much is actually accomplished".

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby morriswalters » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:18 pm UTC

What you mean by air burst is a relative thing. We haven't done many at all, unless you count those done like the first two used on Japan which were air bursts. Which produced plenty of ground damage but little cratering. We did some shots at sub orbital heights, which managed to damage equipment in Honolulu because of the EMP. So where do you think we could set off sufficient blasts to not send up fallout or fry most of the electrical grid(not to mention killing almost all microelectronics that weren't shielded)?

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:41 pm UTC

Honestly, I think the whole "fix our poorly planned alteration of the climate by slapping on FURTHER poorly planned alterations of the climate" strategy has flaws.

Nukes, aerosols, skyshades, whatever. They're usually wildly unrealistic, and have potentially interesting consequences for failure. Sure, things like "use less oil" are difficult to do in practice, but cranking the difficulty/mad science dial up to the max probably won't work. Successful plans are very often boring.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby elasto » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:17 pm UTC

For those genuinely interested, here's an in-depth article covering all sides of the argument - the advocates and the skeptics:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/5110 ... l-warming/

Personally I think the only madness would be not carrying out the research given that, sure, we need to reduce emissions, but we need to also do something about all the warming already locked in even were a rapid reduction in greenhouse gasses to occur, which, let's face it, isn't gonna happen...

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sardia
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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby sardia » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:19 am UTC

elasto wrote:For those genuinely interested, here's an in-depth article covering all sides of the argument - the advocates and the skeptics:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/5110 ... l-warming/

Personally I think the only madness would be not carrying out the research given that, sure, we need to reduce emissions, but we need to also do something about all the warming already locked in even were a rapid reduction in greenhouse gasses to occur, which, let's face it, isn't gonna happen...

There are downsides to technology like this in that having a plan B often makes people unwilling to follow through on Plan A, reducing emissions in the first place. Here's an unpleasant though very rational response, nuclear power. All the benefits of detonating nuclear weapons, but much safer, more controlled, and a tiny fraction of the radiation emissions. Or tearing down old coal power plants and replace them with new coal power plants. They're just as dirty, but you need less of them since you can burn them hotter (hotter= more efficient). Very unpleasant, emits more radiation than nuclear weapons, and would be a gut shot to environmentalists.

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Re: Should We Try Solar Radiation Management?

Postby elasto » Thu Sep 08, 2016 10:57 am UTC

sardia wrote:There are downsides to technology like this in that having a plan B often makes people unwilling to follow through on Plan A, reducing emissions in the first place.

I disagree. There are still severe disadvantages to SRM even if it works perfectly - for example it doesn't stop ocean acidification. We still need to reduce emissions as far as possible as fast as possible.

And even if the will was there, it's not logistically possible to build enough nuclear power stations or clean coal stations in the time we have left. The lead time to building a new nuclear power station is about 15 years and we will need to mitigate the damage already done; GHGs stay around for a century or more.

Besides, we don't apply that logic to other types of damage mitigation. We enforce seat belts (plan B) even though there's evidence it makes people less willing to follow through on plan A (driving safely within the speed limits).

Here's an unpleasant though very rational response, nuclear power. All the benefits of detonating nuclear weapons, but much safer, more controlled, and a tiny fraction of the radiation emissions. Or tearing down old coal power plants and replace them with new coal power plants.

You really think the West is going to build new nuclear/coal power stations across Africa, Asia and South America? Besides the obvious security issues around nuclear power stations in unstable regions, if people baulk at being forced to buy energy efficient lightbulbs, surely they are going to baulk at financing the world's power needs?

Seems like the very opposite of a rational plan.

(Perhaps you meant the West just doing that within its own borders, but that would not be sufficient on its own.)


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