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March 17, 2008


Greg Harman

Thanks for these comments. It constantly amazes me how quickly Big Untested Solutions are embraced over simpler behavioral changes.
What weather modifications we have made already through industrialization are here for at least the next several hundred years. Even if we killed petro-power for illuminated butterfly solutions today (nothing but renewables and calorie-free candies), the climate lag time is significant. It takes decades to build up carbon and decades more to expel it.
Yes, we are finding our soils and seas are reaching their limits on carbon absorption (leading to theories of "rapid climate change" that i, for one, can't dismiss with a shrug), but why is it easier to let a handful of scientists dump tens of thousands of pounds of iron shavings into the Ocean than to kickstart an international treeplanting crusade? Trees are a fairly safe bet. We know what they do and we know the planet is short on forest by over half.
Iron filings? Orbiting solar shades? Robot pollinators? We'll see, maybe.


The idea about iron filings seems ludicrous to me for the same reasons that Greg Harmon mentioned. It also sounds like a really fun research project for scientists and engineers. How much iron would you have to add to the ocean to get the results you wanted? Where, exactly, would you put it all? How would that much iron affect the ocean chemistry? What impact would those changes have on marine life? The rest of the planet? A good set of researchers could work on this problem all the way to their retirement...

But scientists and engineers can't make that research money become available for the taking and they can't authorize the actual dumping of any iron filings. Follow the big money to find the driving force behind any of these ad hoc ideas. It's an old story by now, isn't it?


The world's emissions of the main plnaet-warming gas carbon dioxide will rise over 50 percent to more than 42 billion tonnes per year from 2005 to 2030 as China leads a rise in burning coal, the U.S. government forecast on Wednesday. China's coal demand will rise 3.2 percent annually from 2005 to 2030, the Energy Information Administration said in its International Energy Outlook 2008. Reuters, 26 June 2008Any carbon diet strategy would be dependent upon clean coal: The vast majority of new power stations in China and India will be coal-fired; not may be coal-fired ; will be. So developing carbon capture and storage technology is not optional, it is literally of the essence. Breaking the Climate Deadlock, Tony Blair, June 26, 2008But, Vaclav Smil, an energy expert at the University of Manitoba, has estimated that capturing and burying just 10 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted over a year from coal-fire plants at current rates would require moving volumes of compressed carbon d ioxide greater than the total annual flow of oil worldwide a massive undertaking requiring decades and trillions of dollars. Beware of the scale, he stressed. I'm going to tell you something I probably shouldn't: we may not be able to stop global warming. We need to begin curbing global greenhouse emissions right now, but more than a decade after the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, the world has utterly failed to do so. Unless the geopolitics of global warming change soon, the Hail Mary pass of geoengineering might become our best shot. Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine, 17 March 2008 The alternative (to geoengineering) is the acceptance of a massive natural cull of humanity and a return to an Earth that freely regulates itself but in the hot state. Dr James Lovelock, August 2008

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