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Better than life: the planetary edition

28 Feb 2024 | News Roundup

Somewhere out there floats a rumour that humility is a positive thing. But it seems not to have penetrated the inner sanctum of climate alarmism, where they’re not just aiming to make better plants and better dirt and better humans to fight climate change. They really are getting serious about making a better planet. For instance, from the New York Times “Climate Forward”, “With Earth at its hottest point in recorded history, and humans doing far from enough to stop its overheating, astronomers and physicists are proposing a potential fix: the equivalent of a giant beach umbrella, floating in outer space.” And what could go wrong when humans succumb to hubris? Other than nemesis, we mean.

“Climate Forward” actually introduces that story as “Today we’re bringing you one story we think you’ll like.” Which makes us wonder what story they think we’d hate. Maybe one about the time scientists miscalculated and pushed the planet into an ice age. Oh that’s next year. Today it’s this one:

“The idea is to create a huge sunshade and send it to a far away point between the Earth and the sun to block a small but crucial amount of solar radiation, enough to counter global warming. Scientists have calculated that if just shy of 2 percent of the sun’s radiation is blocked, that would be enough to cool the planet by 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 Fahrenheit, and keep Earth within manageable climate boundaries.”

Just two percent, is it? Seems like a rather small target to hit. But not to worry, they have it all worked out, even including an illustration in which “The shade in this artist’s rendering is enhanced to illustrate the concept.”

Curiously, the people convinced there are tipping points around every corner, all leading to runaway heating of a sort the planet has not experienced even when far warmer than today with more CO2 but this time for sure, don’t seem to think there could possibly be any that lead the other way to, gosh, one of the glaciations we’ve seen as many as 20 of in the last two million years. (For that matter, you never hear of a tipping point where a desert becomes lush, just the other kind.) Heck no. Not with the experts in charge.

Well, why not? Not to be snide, but a major proponent of geoengineering to cool Earth is Bill Gates. His plan isn’t a big umbrella, it’s spraying chemicals into the upper atmosphere designed to cause paranoia. But if you regard his Windows operating system with skepticism, do you really trust him to do an uninstall of the current global OS and install one he kluged together and hopes will work? How much does he really know about the complex interactions that drive planetary conditions, or even about the past history of the outcomes?

Any rational examination of temperature data reveals that it does fluctuate, and did so long before human GHGs were playing a role; indeed between 1695 and 1730 the temperature in central England seems to have risen by almost 2C, far more than we’ve seen recently… and then shot down again. We do not understand how this process works, and meddling with powers you cannot explain or control is a recipe for sorcerers’ apprentice disaster in the accumulated wisdom of humanity, if not the chutzpah of those who scorn tradition. Start turning it down, and who knows what you’ll get.

Possibly nothing. Here at CDN we are extremely skeptical that there is such a thing as a planetary thermostat, with CO2 or anything else being the “control knob” and accessible to human beings. We also dispute that if there were anyone is in a good position to claim that we know what the ideal temperature is and that it’s definitely colder than today.

One of the pernicious side-effects of endless uninformed babble about extreme weather getting worse is that it deceives even the babblers about what it was like trying, say, to farm during the Little Ice Age. As we have repeatedly observed in our just-concluded #ECS In The Real World series, the consensus among sensible economists is that if doubling atmospheric CO2 would cause an absolute temperature increase of less than 2C, then the net impact of increasing CO2 at this point is actually positive, or so trivially negative that no significant anti-climate-change policy is worth more than it costs.

The same cannot be said of cooling. The potential consequences are quite severe, even if we only tip back into Little Ice Age conditions rather than all the way into a glaciation of the sort that, if history is any guide, the Holocene is probably winding down toward anyway. And if humans really could put an umbrella in space, what in our long history of arrogant bungling, or indeed of technological innovation, assures you that it would do just exactly what we wanted it to? Did the telephone? The car? Fire?

Or consider the Wall Street Journal article, enthusiastically reprinted by RealClearScience, that said:

“Dumping chemicals in the ocean? Spraying saltwater into clouds? Injecting reflective particles into the sky? Scientists are resorting to once unthinkable techniques to cool the planet because global efforts to check greenhouse gas emissions are failing.”

So because we failed at the simple task of putting out less CO2 from sources and in ways we sort of understand, and the Canadian government actually flubbed installation of a single wind turbine outside Inuvik, we should just recklessly mess with the entire ecosystem in dozens of ways and see if we all die?

No thanks. Still unthinkable.

9 comments on “Better than life: the planetary edition”

  1. Or, how about we just change building codes to require white, wide-spectrum reflecting materials for roofs in warm climes? Install covered parking with the same materials. Install floating reflectors on reservoirs, especially where it's sunny & dry. Reflecting sunlight directly (instead of allowing it to absorb and be re-radiated at lower frequencies) will send it back into space, thus not warming the climate. And no, this doesn't have to be about "saving the world"--we're talking about warm climates, places that require more air conditioning than heating. Keeping things cool in those places improves quality of life. Keeping reservoirs cool prevent evaporation which means more fresh water to use.
    We know that urban heat island effect is real and causes cities to be several degrees warmer than surrounding areas. These "cool roofs" can completely negate that effect. Again, regardless of climate, global warming, saving the planet, etc., it makes life better in those locations and saves people money.

  2. A lot of this nonsense is simply low-quality scientists seeking grants to "study" doing stupid climate tricks and Mr. Gates can afford a lot of grants!

  3. Of course; 'What possibly could go wrong'???????? For your children long before Disney went Woke.
    https://vimeo.com/7878564 Sorcerer's Apprentice video
    Weather Report: Paleoclimatologists deal with 600my of data. The IPCC deals with 200y of data. An extensive weather report in reality.

  4. As I've noted before, if someone like Bill Gates or John Kerry can explain how a mile of so of ice crept out of the Artic towards North America covering areas like Pittsburgh back 12,000 years ago and then mysteriously disappeared without one iota of human involvement, then I might believe that humans can have such a dramatic effect on the earths climate. Delusional.

  5. Of course you know making the world a better place has very little, or nothing, to do with the motivations of these people. Being able to tell people what to do is much more important. And, in the case of Bill Gates, I imagine getting that Nobel Peace Prize he hoped for until his wife dumped him, may be a factor. I wish he could buy Al Gore's, and then retire from public life. I am very tired of these tech-billionaires lecturing us about things they don't understand.

  6. What is frightening about these mad schemes, is that if media and politicians get involved, they want to do it.
    I mean if we are mad enough to admit human induced climate change, causing disasters? We want to introduce more human induced climate change?? Disaster doubled.

  7. two comments:
    1) a few years ago i watched a PBS special on Glacier Nat'l Park in Montana. there was a snippet of info on some large boulders in the park that had been dislodged during the glaciers advancing in the last ice age but that had been left by the glaciers when they retreated (so 12.000 years ago the glaciers were retreating). in almost the same scene they showed photos of mountains with snow on them in the 1800s, and pictures of the same mountains without snow in the late 20th century.
    conclusion: 12,000 years ago ice retreated naturally. since the white man showed up ice retreating is due to humans.
    2) "Windows" Gates wants to put stuff into our atmosphere to block out the solar radiation and stop global warming. how about this idea: instead of using the earth as a test planet why not use Venus as a test platform? you send a satellite full of reflective material to Venus and drop them off in its upper atmosphere. these solar reflectors will stop the radiation from entering Venus's atmosphere and we can measure the results from a safe distance. Billy Boy is wealthy, he could afford to finance it out of his own pocket.
    just a suggestion.

  8. about that umbrella: If it were, say, 100 miles in diameter, then as it approached solar orbit it would increase in angular momentum due to its inferior orbital radius and so go merrily circling the Sun on a faster circuit, passing the eclipse point with Earth every now and then. Also it would be approaching a much larger body in which its angular influence on radiation would drop off with reducing distance. The maximum effect would be to put it in solar orbit above the Earth's atmosphere, from where it would be grabbed, made to orbit Earth elliptically and no doubt caused to undergo a colourful re - entry. I want to book my seat for that show.

  9. I'm a farmer in the Okanagan ; The spraying this winter and last was over the top. They created a snap cooling effect that got to temperatures cold enough that killed most of the Vineyards including mine; The jury is still out as to weather they will come back from the roots. I hope people stocked up on there favorite wine.
    At this years COP28 Gates is claiming that farmers don't know how to grow food any more, tragic for them Ha Ha.
    Maybe he's got plans to swoop in and buy up all the vineyards? There's only 130 or so now for sale. The Bastard.

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