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Nuke the Moon: The Wacky World of Geoengineering

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Posted May 12, 2012 by Miranda Holmes in Climate Change
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Nuke the Moon- The Wacky World of Geoengineering

Detail of Edvard Munch’s 1895 painting, “The Scream”

Okay, time to stop worrying about climate change. Turns out we can just change the climate. How? Well, maybe we should just nuke the moon. (Apparently if we can shift its orbit to block more sunlight, oil companies can keep drilling, the politicians in their pockets can keep doing nothing and gas-guzzling SUV drivers can laugh at the doomsday warnings of scientists. I kid you not).

Welcome to the wacky world of geo-engineering where geeks compete to find technical remedies for the fossil-fueled mess we’ve got ourselves into.

As Joyce Nelson reveals in an article in the current issue of Watershed Sentinel, funding for geo-quick fixes is pouring in from governments (including Canada’s), from the oil industry (including the tar sands folks) and from billionaires like Bill Gates, Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Sir Richard Branson. (Branson wants everyone to stop worrying about climate change so he can go ahead with plans to launch space tourism. I kid you not).

Too much carbon dioxide in your atmosphere? You could turn off the tap by fast-tracking development of electric cars and investing in clean energy. Or you could fund mad schemes to develop money-making ways to suck up the CO2.

Before reneging completely on Canada’s commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the Harper government and the government of Alberta were relying on – and continue to heavily fund – carbon capture and storage (basically, pumping CO2 underground and hoping for the best). As David Suzuki points out, not all that long ago we thought spraying DDT everywhere was a good idea.

Here are some other bright carbon capture ideas:

  • Dump mega-tonnes of limestone into the oceans to change their acidity in order to soak up extra CO2.
  • ‘Fertilize’ the oceans with iron to increase phytoplankton which may (or may not) sequester CO2.
  • Genetically modify plants to absorb more CO2 or (commercially, of course) manufacture ‘synthetic trees’ to dramatically accelerate an actual tree’s ability to capture carbon.

If none of these work out, we can always try ejecting CO2 from the atmosphere at the Earth’s poles, using the planet’s electromagnetic field and lasers. (I kid you not.)

Alternatively, the geo-engineers reckon we could cool things down by preventing some of that pesky sunshine reaching the planet.

As reported in this week’s New Yorker, geo-engineers think we should be mimicking volcanoes by blasting sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere. (What might this do to the ozone layer we’re trying to protect? Oh, please don’t ask awkward questions.)

Here are some brilliant ideas for deflecting sunlight:

  • Keep the petroleum-based plastics industry busy by covering four million square miles of desert with white plastic.
  • Use thousands of ships with turbines to propel salt spray from the oceans into low-lying clouds to whiten them.
  • Launch 16 trillion glass disks into space to create a sunshade in orbit 1.5 million kilometres above the planet. Price tag for this sunshade? Four trillion dollars.

Forget for a moment the number of the earth’s problems (and not just the climate-related ones) which could be solved with $4 trillion, and consider this: As Alan Robock of Rutgers University points out in a list of reasons why we should not rush to embrace geo-engineering, blocking or deflecting sunlight would dramatically diminish the capacity of solar power to provide clean energy.  (A good reason – as if one was needed – to build solar panels in the desert, rather than covering it in plastic.)

Robock also warns that geo-engineering proposals could permanently turn our sky the red and yellow depicted in Edvard Munch’s The Scream. He wonders what sort of psychological impacts this might have on humanity. So do I.

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About the Author

Miranda Holmes

Miranda Holmes is a former journalist who spent a decade working on toxics and genetic engineering for Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in Canada and the UK. She has also worked on human rights and development issues. She is now an associate editor of the award-winning Watershed Sentinel magazine.

3 Comments


  1.  
    Judy Cross

    Geo-engineering isn’t about changing climate so much as controlling the weather, using weather as a weapon., and also poisoning us.Chemtrails, Nanoaluminum And Neurodegenerative And Neurodevelopmental Effects
    http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/dr-russell-blaylock-on-chemtrail-effects/#more-31208

    Global Warming stopped over 15 years ago, and CO2 never had any effect…positive or negative, on temperature. There is just too little of it. It is less than 4/100 of 1 percent of the atmosphere and humans only account for 3% of that tiny amount.
    We’ve been conned big time and for all our sakes it is time to awaken out of the trance we’ve been in and smell the corruption. The Elite have crashed the world’s economies in order to establish a “carbon” based currency.
    It’s slavery time unless people throw off the media lies.

    It is the Sun which changes climate, not your car exhaust. ‘
    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=9578&linkbox=true&position=2




  2.  
    Miranda Holmes

    Joyce Nelson’s full article is available at http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/geoengineering




  3.  

    I’ve been wondering for some time about those “radical eco-freaks” that I see occasional references to in the media. Thanks, Miranda and Joyce, for identifying a few of them.





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