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9 comments

Testing our Reflections

Posted November 08, 2011 8:04 AM

A strong majority — roughly 75% — of people in North America and the UK support geoengineering studies, that is, those that would test man-made conditions to reflect sunlight back to space to cool the planet. Is the effort feasible? Would we be better off with research results on actions we might consider taking in the future?

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#1

Re: Testing our Reflections

11/08/2011 8:19 AM

Is anyone really sure that we are causing the conditions we are currently experiencing? How do we know for sure that this is not just a normal cycle? How do we know what cooling the earth would do, long term?

We are all taking potshots at what each of thinks is the right thing to do.

The earth was inhospitable before, it can be inhospitable again. It's been said before on this site [I forget by whom] that we are just a pimple on the earth [or something like that].

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#2

Re: Testing our Reflections

11/08/2011 10:40 AM

I must be in the 25% then.

Who were the people that were polled? 75% seems really high for people from three countries to agree on anything, especially on a subject as controversial as global warming.

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#3

Re: Testing our Reflections

11/08/2011 10:58 PM

I too must be a part of that 25%! LOL NUTZZZZ

Ummm, that 75% who are thinking this is a "grand idea" must originate from the "WE ARE THE 99%".......or otherwise known in these parts as the "fringe lunatic crowd"! (hey, we're only located 90 miles north of the nut cases located in NYC and receive on a 24/7 basis the broadcast news from there!)

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#4

Re: Testing our Reflections

11/08/2011 11:02 PM

The Mother Earth does that by now, for some 3,5 billion years. And will do for another 5 billion years or so, without permission or voting from these blooming twits.

The Earth heat balance was calculated and measured with increasing precision for some 300 years. Earth observing satellites took that chore over since the 1970s with increasing precision. So, I ask again, where do these twits come up, that any help at all will even be tolerated from such witlessness?!?

It would be royally fascinating to see, who did that brilliant voting. Please, let us know!

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#5

Re: Testing our Reflections

11/09/2011 12:12 AM

Ya sure, ya betcha. If global warming is getting you down, just light off a bunch of hydrogen bombs, inducing a "nuclear winter" to cool Mother Earth back down. Hey, let's vote on it!

(One wonders how the poll questions were phrased....)

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#6

Re: Testing our Reflections

11/09/2011 12:54 AM

It is very unlikely that any project as extensive and costly as reflectorizing the land surface on the entire planet is even possible. However, reducing surface temperatures in densely populated areas with reflective roof surfaces, roof gardens, and such like can reduce energy demands and improve the local climate, indoors and out.

Planting trees, setting aside land for parks, imposing setback requirements on urban construction, are all ways to improve quality of life. All of them deal in some way with solar radiation and solar heating of the earth's surface and its effects, but they also make our existence pleasanter in other ways, and all of them have been known for a very long time.

Although the sun's behavior is mostly regular and consistent, there are surprises, like the Smithsonian Institution's ongoing solar studies (and now, NOAA's) that show the "solar constant" to be somewhat variable. And like the "Little Ice Age", an unusually cool period that lasted off-and-on for three hundred years between 1550 and 1850. Although there is nothing we can do to make the sun radiate more or less energy, we can learn to deal with that radiation more intelligently.

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#7

Re: Testing our Reflections

11/09/2011 12:57 AM

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#8

Re: Testing our Reflections

11/09/2011 4:57 AM

The article is published in Packaging & Labelling.

Is somebody suggesting that we wrap the earth in metalised cling film? I smell an alternative agenda from a company manufacturing said cling film. It is not unknown for poll results to be massaged in the name of marketing. But if it works where do I buy stock?

Taking a sample from some nutty hippy community and extrapolating to the population at large is a whole lot of work. Why not just dream up a random figure? It is not credible that 75% of the population actually understand what geoengineering means. So why make the figure credible at all, any figure will spark a response. Who was it who said "All publicity is good publicity"

To be fair, the author did say roughly 75% without quoting his tolerance. If you interpret roughly as 75% +24.99'% -74.99'%, then there is nothing wrong with his original poll data, just the way he reported it.

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#9

Re: Testing our Reflections

11/09/2011 8:48 AM

Here is a chart illustrating "normal" temperature variation over the past12,000 years:

This is from one of the US Government agencies (the EPA, I believe, although it may have been from NOAA). It is freely available on the Internet, but I can not remember exactly where I encountered it. If I am reading this right, it seems that we are still shy of "normal" by about 0.2 ºC. I see no indication that recent temperature increases are, in fact, "unprecedented".

Looking further back in the past:

It would seem from this that something happened about 10,000 years ago that resulted in some sort of damping on the normal temperature variation cycles- i.e., we have enjoyed unusually stable climate for the past 10,000 years. It would also appear that radical temperature swings at much higher rates and magnitudes are far more common in earth's history than Al Gore and the UN would like for us to believe.

Now, what possibly could have happened 10,000 years ago to stabilize the climate? Current theory tells us that human agricultural activity began something like 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, and at least one researcher has been able to identify evidence of human impact on the climate for at least the past 5000 years (related, in his hypothesis to extensive land clearing in Eurasia to make room for bigger farms).

It seems to me, based on this data, that overall human impact on climate has been beneficial, in that it has prevented the "normal" swings that would result in the commencement of a new ice age. In my opinion, an ice age would be far more detrimental to human survivability (or, if you prefer, biodiversity) than a warming earth. Note that I am not commenting here on other environmental impacts such as poisoning the air and water and killing the natural biota in the soils through excessive chemical use. Only "climate change".

The original UN climate report included a chapter on paleoclimate which presented this information. I have not followed recent revisions, so I do not know if this has been purged from the document, but I suspect it has, since this historical data is contrary to the political agenda.

Bottom line: at this stage in our understanding of geo-engineering, any attempt at "improving" the situation is a likely to induce an ice age as it is to "stabilize" our climate. Spending public funds on such efforts is nothing more than diverting limited resources from more pressing needs. In my opinion, the best approach is Plant Trees. Much more affordable than geo engineering, and much less likely to go wrong.

Note: I am not a "Climate Change Denier" or a "Climate Change Skeptic". It is very obvious that the world climate is changing, and it is not unreasonable to ascribe some of this effect to human activity (from agricultural land use to recent expansion of extensive urban centers).

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