Livermore Researchers Determine Biosphere Unaffected By Geoengineering Schemes
LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Using models that simulate the interaction between global climate
and land ecosystems, atmospheric scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have shown that compensating for
the carbon dioxide "greenhouse effect" by decreasing the amount of sunlight reaching the planet (geoengineering) could create
a more vigorous ecosystem while helping to curb global warming.
The study suggests that planetary-scale engineering projects to lessen the amount of solar
radiation reaching the Earth's surface will likely do little to prevent the effects of increased greenhouse gases on the terrestrial
biosphere. In fact, plants could experience growth spurts.
In a paper entitled: "Impact of Geoengineering Schemes on the Terrestrial Biosphere," Livermore researchers Bala Govindasamy, Starley Thompson, Philip Duffy, Ken Caldeira and University of Wisconsin
collaborator Christine Delire, modeled the impact on Earth's land biosphere due to various schemes that would reduce the amount
of sunlight reaching the planet's surface. The research appears in the Nov. 26 online edition of Geophysical Research Letters.
"Our models show plant life getting a big boost from the carbon dioxide fertilization when
atmospheric CO2 levels are doubled due to anthropogenic fossil fuel emissions," Govindasamy said. "We noticed that in a CO2-enriched
world, the terrestrial biosphere was largely unaffected by decreases in surface solar radiation by a couple of percentage
points through various geoengineering schemes."
In earlier research, scientists have maintained that greenhouse gases emitted from the
burning of fossil fuels are one of the largest sources of global warming because they cause an increase in the amount of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere. Methods to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide vary from storing it in the deep ocean to reducing
the amount of sunlight reaching the planet (geoengineering) that could largely counteract the warming influence of more greenhouse
"Critics suggested that 'turning down the sun' could harm terrestrial ecosystems that depend
on light for photosynthesis, but this new work shows that a change in solar flux to stabilize climate would have little effect
on the terrestrial biosphere," Caldeira said. "In fact, turning down the sun a bit reduces evaporation and therefore gives
the plants more water for photosynthesis so that they may actually grow better in a geoengineered world than they do today."
The researchers, however, strongly caution against adopting any geoengineering scheme because
"there are many reasons why geoengineering is not a preferred option for climate stabilization." Among these are the risks
of system failure and unpredictable responses of Earth's climate system to large-scale human intervention ecosystems.
"First, geoengineering schemes impose a variety of technical, political and economic challenges.
International consensus to develop and maintain the schemes would be difficult. Failure of a scheme could be catastrophic,"
said Govindasamy said. "CO2 fertilization could impact ecosystem goods and services not represented by our land biosphere
model, such as plant species abundance and competition, habitat loss, biodiversity and other disturbances."
The LLNL-led group used a general circulation model coupled to a model of land vegetation
to conclude that the change in solar flux needed to stabilize climate would have little effect on net primary productivity
Founded in 1952, LawrenceLivermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national
security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. LawrenceLivermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California
for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.
Editor's Note: The original news release can be found here.
[PDF]Free Executive Summary File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML geoengineering (eg, aluminum balloons in the stratosphere to reduce incoming ... As a follow
up, KenCaldeira. of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ... www.nap.edu/execsumm_pdf/10798.pdf -
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Last year was the warmest recorded on Earth's surface, and it was unusually hot in the Arctic, U.S. space agency NASA said on Tuesday.
All five of the hottest years since modern record-keeping began in the 1890s occurred within the last decade, according
to analysis by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
In descending order, the years with the highest global average annual temperatures were 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and
2004, NASA said in a statement.
"It's fair to say that it probably is the warmest since we have modern meteorological records," said Drew Shindell
of the NASA institute in New York City.
"Using indirect measurements that go back farther, I think it's even fair to say that it's the warmest in the last
several thousand years."
Some researchers had expected 1998 would be the hottest year on record, notably because a strong El Nino -- a warm-water
pattern in the eastern Pacific -- boosted global temperatures.
But Shindell said last year was slightly warmer than 1998, even without any extraordinary weather pattern. Temperatures
in the Arctic were unusually warm in 2005, NASA said.
"That very anomalously warm year (1998) has become the norm," Shindell said in a telephone interview.
"The rate of warming has been so rapid that this temperature that we only got when we had a real strong El Nino now
has become something that we've gotten without any unusual worldwide weather disturbance."
Over the past 30 years, Earth has warmed by 1.08 degrees F (0.6 degrees C), NASA said. Over the past 100 years, it
has warmed by 1.44 degrees F (0.8 degrees C).
Shindell, in line with the view held by most scientists, attributed the rise to emissions of greenhouse gases such
as carbon dioxide, methane and ozone, with the burning of fossil fuels being the primary source.
The 21st century could see global temperature increases of 6 to 10 degrees F (3 to 5 degrees C), Shindell said.
"That will really bring us up to the warmest temperatures the world has experienced probably in the last million years,"
To understand whether the Earth is cooling or warming, scientists use data from weather stations on land, satellite
measurements of sea surface temperature since 1982, and data from ships for earlier years.
More information and images are available online at: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/2005_warmest.html.
CBS) Scientists dealing with global warming are looking at drastic solutions for the
problem, including manipulating earth's atmosphere on a massive scale, CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen reports.
the problem is serious, climate scientists say. If current trends continue, the Earth's average surface temperature will be
2.7 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit higher in 100 years, they project.
One solution envisions blasting tiny particles into
the atmosphere from the guns of battleships. The particles would deflect enough sunlight to trigger global cooling. Another
falls under the category of "geo-engineering": launching 50,000 mirrors into orbit to reflect sunlight back into space.
sooner, the better," says Dr. Edward Teller, a promoter of the plan. Teller, who helped harness the destructive power of the
atom 60 years ago, now believes man can dim the power of the sun.
"The simplest is to put into the high atmosphere
small particles that scatter away one or two percent of the sunlight,"he says.
Teller's colleague at Lawrence Livermore
Laboratory, climate researcher Ken Caldeira, had hoped to prove Teller wrong.
"My first thoughts about this was that
it simply wouldn't work," he says.
Then he ran the computer models, Caldeira says.
"Much to our surprise, our
model results indicated that geo-engineering schemes would move our climate back to what it was before," he says.
to cooler temperatures, that is. And Caldeira says the best way to go about it is by "putting a huge satellite out in space
between earth and sun."
That could mean putting the device where the SOHO satellite is now observing the sun's solar storms. The huge solar shield would act
as an orbiting sunshade to cool the earth.
"The satellite in space would leave a little pockmark on the surface of
the sun, roughly two percent of the sun's surface area," Caldeira says.
And the Caldeira scheme wouldn't have the downside
of blasting particles into space, a technique that would turn blue skies absolutely white. Or that of the 50,000 orbiting
mirrors, which would create a flickering sun here on earth.
But some global warming experts, like StanfordUniversity's Steve Schneider, have their doubts about
"We don't know what the precise effects would be, whether the cure would be better or worse than the
disease," Schneider says. Eliminating harmful greenhouse gases will take 200 years–far longer than global cooperation
can be expected to last, Schneider says.
"Two hundred years of continuous planetary management on a global scale–that's
asking a lot of political institutions that have never been able to get along for more than a few decades at a time," he says.
By Alex Kirby BBC News Online environment correspondent
Scientists are studying possible ways of using engineering to help the world to adapt to
increasing climate change.
A conference in Cambridge, UK, has been convened to consider possible options while ignoring "political correctness".
The organisers say many options
appear at the moment very unlikely to work, with some even appearing to be "crazy", but insist that they must be evaluated.
They say engineering will probably
have to play its part in cutting greenhouse gases by the huge amounts necessary.
The conference organisers
are the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based at the University of East Anglia, and the Cambridge-MIT Institute.
The meeting, on 8 and 9 January,
is entitled Macro-engineering Options For Climate Change Management And Mitigation.
One speaker is Professor James
Lovelock, begetter of the Gaia Hypothesis, which holds that the Earth functions as a single organism which maintains the conditions
necessary for its survival.
The organisers say reducing global
greenhouse gas emissions by around 50%, which may be needed to avoid excessive climate change, will be very difficult, and
could require even larger cuts by developed countries.
They say: "Many people feel it
is very unlikely that such reductions can be achieved just by improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon intensity by
using renewable sources of energy."
So they see a need to evaluate
possible macro-engineering options before any can be seriously considered as candidates, even if they prove to be only "an
So the conference is committed
to considering all approaches "without preconceptions" and disregarding "potential pressures in relation to political correctness".
It will look at four main sets
"sequestering" (storing) carbon dioxide, for example in the oceans, by removing it from the air for
storage, or by improved ways of locking it up in forests
"insolation management" - modifying the albedo (reflectivity) of clouds and other surfaces to affect
the amount of the Sun's energy reaching the Earth
climate design, for example by long-term management of carbon for photosynthesis, or by glaciation
impacts reduction, which includes stabilising ocean currents by river deviation, and providing large-scale
migration corridors for wildlife.
The organisers note: "Many of
these possible options are highly speculative at present, and some may even appear to be crazy.
Closing the options
"However, that is precisely why
they should be evaluated (and if necessary dismissed) as soon as possible.
"Otherwise politicians may seek
to use them as 'magic bullets' either to postpone action, or as prospective solutions for actual implementation, once it becomes
clear that the mitigation of climate change is going to be a major and very difficult task."
The conference was
planned a year ago, long before acute doubts surfaced over the prospects for the eventual entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate treaty.
The US has rejected the protocol, and Russia, whose support is vital, has not yet said
whether or not it will ratify it.
Professor John Schellnhuber,
of the Tyndall Centre, told BBC News Online: "Kyoto is in a very difficult position, and it may be necessary to find other exit strategies.
Chances slipping away
"We may find we're in a cul-de-sac
and have to think of other policies which transcend the protocol.
"But we must think about unconventional
strategies in any case, because a back-of-envelope calculation shows we're unlikely to do the job without them.
"We may have missed
the best time to intervene to protect the climate. Kyoto will reduce global warming by less than a tenth of a degree anyway.
"If it can be rescued, by then
it may mean we've lost another 10 years and are simply running out of time."
Planet-sized solutions for global warming
Jan 7 2004
International experts evaluate the options
Big ideas for reducing the impacts of climate change are being evaluated
by an international line-up of leading scientists from the US, mainland Europe and the UK at a symposium in Cambridge this
week. The scientists are coming together to evaluate which large-scale bio-engineering, geo-engineering and chemical engineering
ideas to combat global warming are worthy of further investigation, and which are best left on the drawing board. The meeting
is being jointly hosted by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the Cambridge-MIT Institute.
The symposium, called “Macro-engineering options for climate change
management and mitigation” is at the Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge from 7-9 January.
“We urgently need to explore the feasibility of imaginative new ideas
for reducing global warming in the future, either by slashing carbon dioxide emissions, or by counteracting its effects, if
we are to avoid dangerous climate change”, says Professor John Shepherd, a Director of the Tyndall Centre.
Proposed options for reducing carbon dioxide pollution currently include
underground burying of liquefied carbon dioxide; disposal in the sea; fertilising its absorption by marine algae; reflecting
the sun’s rays in the atmosphere; and stabilizing sea-level rise. These and other macro-engineering ideas will be evaluated
against a strict set of criteria, including effectiveness, environmental impacts, cost, public acceptability, and reversibility.
All of these options go beyond the conventional approaches of improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon intensity by
using more renewable energy sources, and may be needed in addition to these conventional approaches.
“Because of the urgency of implementing climate-change management,
more innovative approaches to the mitigation of climate change might be needed. This is really a big thought experiment, to
critically evaluate which macro-engineering options might be feasible and worth pursuing” comments John Shepherd. “Some
of the macro-engineering options which have been suggested are big and rather scary, and some may even appear to be crazy.
That is precisely why they should be evaluated – and if necessary dismissed – as soon as possible, so that society
can decide which should be developed as serious options for future use, if & when they are needed.”
“Most of these macro-engineering options are not yet in the mainstream
for climate policy, but the mere fact that they have been suggested places an obligation on scientists from many disciplines
to explore their feasibility and evaluate their consequences and their wider implications” comments Shepherd.
For further information about the symposium or the Tyndall Centre
contact Mr Asher Minns 07880 547 843 firstname.lastname@example.org (Tyndall Communication) or Lize King (CMI Communication) 01223 448 796 email@example.com
The Tyndall Centre is the UK’s flagship climate change research
centre, founded in 2000 to investigate, evaluate and design options for managing climate change. At the core of the Tyndall
Centre are nine Universities, with Regional centres in Manchester and Southampton and with its HQ at the University of East
The Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) is a pioneering partnership between
two world-class institutions: the University of Cambridge in the UK and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.
Established in July 2000, it receives funding from the UK government and industry partners to carry out education and research
to enhance the competitiveness, productivity and entrepreneurship of the UK economy. CMI is currently focusing on ways of
enhancing the knowledge exchange process between academia and industry to push forward research and increase the pace of innovation.
For more information about CMI, please visit our website: http://www.cambridge-mit.org
in this paper you can see why the necessary research is not being funded.
that the author ends his abstract by questioningif research should even be “allowed.”
is not hyperbole.The academic community exists in a separate environment largely
independent of the world in which the rest of us live.
engineering is out of fashion in the largely Left academic community it will simply not be funded.
note the author’s complaint about money, power, and consumption.
how the author does not even bother to deny that we can engineer a solution, only that he does not want to allow the “power”
to fall into the hands of the “rich and powerful.”
This review of climate engineering proposals aims to provide a comprehensive resource of up to date information
and ideas for people concerned about the development of large-scale technical fixes to counter the problem of global warming.
The proposals fall into three main categories: increasing the reflection of solar radiation back to space, enhancing natural
sinks of carbon dioxide, and direct disposal of carbon dioxide captured at source. In addition, proposals involving weather
modification, ozone chemistry and terraforming Mars are mentioned briefly. Direct disposal of carbon dioxide is included because
it involves exploitation of "global commons" such as the deep ocean, and because it is often compared with schemes to increase
natural sinks. Some of these proposals are realistic and thus a real cause for concern, whilst the reader may find amusement
in reading some of the crazier schemes! All of these technical fixes are intended to tackle the symptom of the problem of
fossil fuel consumption. The development of technology to encourage energy efficiency or renewable energy, on the other hand,
which is intended to reduce that consumption, is much less controversial, and is not considered here.
Some academic research projects which may lead to climate engineering, such as fertilisation of the Southern
Ocean with added Iron, have recently received much media attention. However, the media seems to be less aware of the much
larger community of researchers who are employed by the fossil fuel and power industries to investigate similar proposals
for enhancing CO2 sinks. This review aims to clarify not only how each proposal might work or fail, but also who is promoting
each idea. Sponsorship by the fossil fuel industry is closely linked to the bluffing game of international greenhouse politics,
where excuses for doing nothing are always welcome. Hidden political values are concealed in cost-benefit analyses, in which
a trade off can be made between climate engineering or climate warming damages, implying that consumption is already non-negotiable.
The "just in case" argument for backing climate engineering research may become a self-fulfilling prophesy in this political
context, but in the real world the choice might then be between two potential catastrophes, for positive feedback processes
make the climate system inherently surprising. I conclude by asking whether such research should continue, and how we might
check its momentum in the future.
Many of us like to think that our job plays some small role in the massive task of "saving the world". Myself,
I was convinced long ago that global warming was the greatest potential threat to all life on earth, because we were entering
unknown territory in a chaotic system dominated by little-known feedback processes. If positive feedbacks predominate in the
"runaway greenhouse", this could spell the end of life on earth. On the other hand, I knew that for 4 billion years the Earth
had remained comfortable for life, and this was largely due to negative feedback processes involving life itself. In particular,
the beautiful little algae in the sea controlled the pump of CO2 from the atmosphere to the ocean, and thus kept the world
cool. And so I ended up working here in the laboratory, measuring CO2 fluxes in and out of a tankful of such algae.
But in this university there are many others also motivated to "save the world", who find themselves instead
studying development, social sciences or economics. And in a gathering of such people, they often grumble about how the "the
World Bank (or similar organisations) rule the world". On such occasions, I sometimes like to jut in and point out that really,
if anything, it is the algae in the sea that rule the world. For, in the long term at least, it is they that have controlled
the chemistry of the ocean, and thus of the atmosphere, and thus the global climate, and despite our pollution they continue
to do this, so far little perturbed..
However, I begin to wonder, whether maybe the others were right after all. For I can envisage, in the not
too distant future, that economists could be telling us how we should control the algae in the sea, to control the climate
as we want it, to find the most economically "efficient" response to global warming. They already produce global cost benefit
analyses to tell us how much CO2 we should put in the sky, to best suit humans with money and power. But if they are given
the link to the algae, it may be my own colleagues here who took the initiative to make it possible. New experiments on the
"Iron Fertilisation hypothesis" last summer proved particularly successful. The scientists' motivation is not to control the
world's climate, but curiosity to find out what does control the growth of the algae, necessary to understand ice ages and
predict future climate change. But the question is, once you have the key to such "climate engineering", is it not likely
to be developed, and directed according to the interests of money and power? History shows us, how the exciting science of
one decade, turns into the more dubious technology of the next. Nuclear physics and molecular genetics are examples. Is it
possible that the science of climate feedbacks, biogeochemical cyles, or "geophysiology" could be heading the same way?
My colleagues would probably tell me, that my World Bank scenario is alarmist and unhelpful, that's not what
the scientists are intending. Some say that our task is only to solve the scientific challenge, and it is always better to
possess the key to the mystery. Yet not surprisingly, there was a lot of controversy here after the recent publication of
the results of the Iron experiment (more detail later), particularly fuelled by reluctance on the part of certain prominent
researchers to reject the idea that their research might lead eventually to a partial technical fix to global warming. A hostile
editorial in New Scientist (vol 152 no 2051) led to mudslinging in the media, for instance Jonathon Porrit's newspaper article
"Beware the Quick Fixes of Nutty Professors" in response to another article welcoming this wonderful cure which might give
us the freedom to drive more cars. It seems people either hate the iron fertilisation "quick fix" or love it, in rough proportion
to their love of consumption and faith in technological "progress". The controversy encapsulated deep divisions.
Following from that, I decided to see whether there were other realistic "climate engineering" proposals in
the scientific literature. I found about a dozen different ideas. These are considered in detail in section 2 of this paper.
Of course, we should expect that in any field, there will always be some crazy proposals, many of which will never receive
enough resources to be tested. But then I noticed that most of the papers came not from academics in institutions which pursue
the basic science of global change, but instead from engineers, chemists, and biotechnologists who seemed to be sponsored
by the fossil fuel or power industries. Sponsorship of climate engineering research is considered in section 3. It seems that
these schemes are not just being suggested, but are already being pushed, as a cheaper alternative than reducing CO2 emissions.
This made me much more concerned.
There are three reasons to be worried about this turn of events, and these are considered in section 4. First,
the push to find such a technical fix, will distort the science of global change. Second, if there is a serious prospect of
a technical fix, this will weaken people's resolve to take the responsible course of drastically reducing fossil fuel consumption.
And third, most worrying but most distant in the future, there is prospect of these proposals becoming reality. For the global
climate is a highly non-linear system determined by complex feedback processes , and we still have a poor understanding of
how it works. Any attempt to deliberately tinker with this system, could backfire very badly. Most new experiments do not
work the first time as expected. There are always unwanted side effects. But if we tinker with the whole world, we only get
So, I wondered, perhaps the time is ripe for concerned people to get together, to check the enthusiasm of
the climate engineers, and provide a forum for consideration of the ethical issues and side effects? Possible approaches are
considered in Section 5. This might be a new topic for organisations such as "Scientists for Global Responsibility", or for
the more radical young scientists under the banner "new luddites", who have recently devised peaceful but innovative ways
to question the "Optimism" of the scientific establishment, so far focussing on cars, genetic engineering, and specific events
in science festivals. But it might seem strange for such "green" activists, to start questioning whether we should curtail
some climate change research. And perhaps the proposals still seem so far fetched, that we would only make ourselves look
silly, by taking them too seriously at the moment? I will postpone further judgement, and continue by outlining some of the
proposals in more detail.
Note that US academics have coined the term "geoengineering" to describe this topic. However, both to me and
to citation indices, this still tends to conjure up hard hats and oil rigs, belonging to more traditional applied geology.
So for the moment, I will stick with "climate engineering". "Terraforming" is another term, but refers to other planets.
Climate Engineering B Matthews - prog2000.casaccia.enea.it ... 4.3 The impact on climate
politics 4.3.1 The ... US academics have coined the term "geoengineering" to describe ... by Schneider (1996) that such
schemes could never ... View as HTML - Web Search - mala.bc.ca