Releasing Dust in to the Stratosphere is Cheap & Clean Global Cooling

On May 4th, 2007, in California’s capital, the Sacramento Bee printed a story entitled “Plan for global warming: Bite the dust.” In this story, author Jim Downing brings to the mainstream press the notion that global warming can be reversed by “battleship artillery blasting millions of tons of dust into the stratosphere.” Apparently the dust can also be released from high flying airplanes. If we’re trying to cut costs, why not heavy-lift airships?

The Global Cooling Effects of Benign Soot

This so-called “Plan B” solution, which will lower the amount of sunlight reaching earth, would only cost a few hundred billion dollars – not trillions like sequestering CO2 – and would immediately cool the planet.

Obviously if this “Plan B” could work once Greenland’s ice cap is half-melted, it makes sense to do it now, while Greenlands icecap is intact, and only a cooling nudge is required.

Expect to hear more about aerosol cooling, because the implications are staggering – we don’t have to ration energy or water. If the planet is no longer going to get dangerously warm, then clean energy can still use fossil fuel. Clean energy can still emit CO2, and we can return our focus to eliminating truly dangerous air pollution. CO2, long essential for plant life anyway, is no longer the demon we thought it was.

Heck, if the prescription to deposit 5 million tons of fine sulpher dust each year at an altitude of seven miles overcools the planet, we’ll be glad to have the industrial infrastructure in place to burn a bit more fossil fuel and raise the CO2.

Why isn’t this measure, using benign aerosols to create a blanket of soot that dims the amount of sunlight reaching earth, being presented as an immediate option, instead of a last resort? If it is such an inexpensive way to immediately cool the planet, why don’t we just do it?

With the planet cooled off a bit, we then could focus on preserving and restoring rainforests, and burning more fossil fuel to desalinate seawater to not only cool, but rehydrate the thirsty lands of the planet. And in any case, tropical reforestation will provide perennial CO2 uptake, and more importantly, bring back the rains and the regular, moist jet stream – the monsoon circulation. Tropical reforestation would end droughts and help moderate weather all over the world. We could refill the entire Aral Sea. If we were allowed to use clean fossil fuel, we could refill Lake Chad and the aquifers of the Sahel.

With the planet safely cooled off, we could extract and burn the abundant heavy oil of Orinoco and Athabasca, and governments could use the revenues from carbon taxes and carbon credits to finance the replanting of every biofuel plantation from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn with rainforest. Megacities would attract people from the countryside, and the rainforests would return. We could save ten trillion – the cost for our futile war on CO2 – for a few hundred million – the cost to spew soot into the stratosphere for however long it takes to get a global cooling effect.

So send out the flotilla, and bombard the stratosphere, because these cooling results could be felt within five years from today, maybe less. Carbon taxes and carbon credits are still worth considering as a method to increase the price of fossil fuel, and these collections can fund the final cleanup of fossil fuel – even without trying to sequester CO2, the costs and the challenges to eliminate other pollutants caused by burning fossil fuel are daunting. Raising the price of fossil fuels also will make clean renewable energy more competitive, stimulating production. And with the global warming demon of our backs, we can return to the many global environmental challenges that didn’t go away when global warming took center stage. The soul of environmentalism needs to return with balance to them all.

In our earlier posts “Global Aerosol Cooling,” and “Fighting Global Warming” we have been steadfast in our support of benign aerosol release to immediately cool the planet, and in our feature “CO2 Tax Windfall” we suggest CO2 tax revenues be used to fund massive atmospheric releases of benign aerosols, stating:

“To discuss intentionally increasing aerosol deposition is not madness nor a reckless compromise, rather it is to believe in the need to solve global warming, not just do anything for the cause.”

2 Responses to “Releasing Dust in to the Stratosphere is Cheap & Clean Global Cooling”
  1. Richard says:

    According to the IPCC’s report, it would take a 36 degree rise in temperature, then a thousand years to melt Antarctica. Their worst predictions are for about a 10 degree rise over the next century. In addition, the Greenland studies showing retreating calving points for glaciers releasing ice into the sea focus on a small point whose rise in temperature is caused by the gulf stream’s reach into Baffin Bay. There is not enough historical evidence of any man-made cause for any increase in the earth’s temperature.

    There is evidence for man made pollution, and I don’t want anyone else’s crap on my property, including in the air I breathe.

    I’m all for responsible emissions, but dumping crap into the atmosphere to counteract other crap in the atmosphere doesn’t sound like a great idea.

    Why can’t we just enforce the laws already in effect to prevent pollution of other people’s property and the environment? Do we need a billion dollar non-solution?

  2. Ed Ring says:

    Richard – All I’m saying is that IF we are warming the planet with industrial CO2 emissions, and IF that is a huge problem, then we need to recognize the following: Developing nations are not going to stop emitting CO2 – virtually 90% of the world’s power is based on combustion, and the world’s power production is going to increase in the coming decades.

    So if, and only if, we must stop global warming, the way we can stop it is relatively cheap – we can sow reflective (and benign) particles into the atmosphere.

    What is already nearly lost in this debate that we aren’t supposed to have any more, is the fact that CO2 is not a dangerous pollutant, it is a greenhouse gas. The problem with greenhouse gasses, if there is one, is not that they are dangerous to life, life depends on CO2. The problem is only that too much could cause catastrophic global warming, just as if there were no greenhouse gasses, we would all quickly freeze to death.

    Lost in this mania to fight CO2 emissions is the need to get dangerous poisons out of the atmosphere, particulates and harmful chemicals. This imperative, which the Chinese and Indians might actually find feasible as they industrialize, is being ignored in pursuit of the impossible, in my view.


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