While we are shivering from the threat of global warming, the international managerial body is collaborating with many countries to establish a sustainable planetary regime. The climate change hysteria is permeating every governmental department, scientific body and academic circle. This crazed hype is spreading like a wild fire, consuming our minds and molding us into the proper subjects for the new pantheistic age. Coupled with the emerging holy mantras: Go Green, Sustainable Development, Climate Change, Consume Less and the like. The experts in white lab coats make assertions that science is the panacea for a perilous human kind. Blinded by this belief the scientists have been experimenting over our noses, altering our climate and wrecking our ecosystems, with the hopes that some day they will control our planet Earth.
While stubborn politicians and zealous environmentalists actively discuss the reduction of greenhouse gases, some scientists are eager to offer an alternative to tackle the climate change conundrum. “CO2 reductions. Forget about it,”— the enthusiastic scientists will say. “We have a quick technological fix for you.” Make the Earth brighter, send highly reflective particles into the atmosphere, bounce sunlight back to space and launch huge clouds of mirrors into orbit around the Earth. Create a “planetary thermostat”. It seems like a radical idea, but it no longer belongs to the realm of science fiction. In fact, the geoengineering on the planetary scale is presented to be the only feasible solution for the world in the state of environmental crisis. Geoengineering is being discussed by experts from various academic disciplines in the context of mitigating climate change and preventing a cascade of global environmental cataclysms.
Before proceeding to the nitty-gritty stuff about geoengineering and immersing the reader into author’s analytical summation of white papers from various science programs, the historical background has to be painted. To elevate the understanding of climate engineering, one must be equipped with a wider historical perspective on the weather modification technologies.
One of the first attempts to modify the weather for a specific purpose could be traced back to the 19th Century. James Pollard Espy, aka the Storm King, was the first meteorologist employed by the US government. He is credited with the discovery of the thermal theory, which became an integral part of meteorology. Espy believed that the weather storms are driven by what he called “steam power”. The sun heated air ascends in a column, the surrounding air rushes in, then it cools, condenses and precipitation follows. Under this premise, the thermal theory of storms, Espy suggested to burn large forest areas to raise huge columns of warm air to trigger the creation of clouds and cause precipitation. I suppose, the Greenpeace and tree huggers were not around back then, and he was able to continue with his research on rainmaking techniques in Washington, D.C. under the funding of US Navy. Espy became a pioneer in weather modification technologies and others followed suit.
Moving forward to the 20th Century in the years after World War II the weather modification proposals began to gain momentum. The research Institutions across North America started to steam roll ahead with new propositions on climate projects. The US Military and its Soviet counterpart developed an intense interest in the new Cold War weapon.
In 1946, Vincent Schaefer, a laboratory technician, witnessed something extraordinary at the General Electric Research Laboratory in the New York state. Schaefer dropped some dry ice into a home freezer, which he used as a cloud chamber, and to his surprise the moisture from his breath transformed into tiny ice crystals. He created an ice cloud from “supercooled” water droplets. This was a crucial breakthrough point for understanding cloud properties and cloud formation. For a larger experiment Schaefer rented an airplane, flew over Mount Greylock in the nearby Berkshires, dropped six pounds of dry ice pellets into a cold cloud, thereby creating ice crystals and the snow fell along a three-mile path. On the next day, The New York Times and The Boston Globe published articles narrating a new cutting-edge research on artificial snowstorm manufacturing. Schaefer’s colleagues at MIT performed similar experiments by employing silver iodide flares to trigger an explosive ice growth in the supercooled clouds. This chain of events marked a historical moment when the use of dry ice, silver iodide and other chemicals were known to produce a chain reaction in the clouds and either create or enhance weather storms.
In China Lake, California at the naval weapons testing center the scientists have been working on the weather modification projects, developing rainmaking capabilities with the purpose to impede enemy’s movement and to disrupt their supply routes. One of the first successful campaigns unfolded during the Vietnam War under the full support of both Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon. The U.S. Military conducted a full-scale operation to prolong the monsoon season over Laos. The Air Force delivered cloud seeding particulates over the Ho Chi Minh Trail to reduce enemy’s traffic ability and to hinder the movement of personnel and material goods from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. This covert operation was carried out under several names, including POPEYE and Intermediary-Compatriot.
The experimentations described above were among the first successful cloud seeding techniques and geoengineering stems largely from the development of the weather warfare technologies.
As research circles started to expand and more of the qualified personnel were needed, the information on environmental weaponry started to leak out to the public and the governmental bodies were compelled to discuss it and eventually to impose restrictions on these potentially dangerous programs. In the John F. Kennedy’s speech to the United Nations in 1961 there was a call for an international cooperation on “weather control”. Consequently, in 1970s the UN organization drafted the convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD), which was ratified by nearly 70 nations and came into force in 1978. The Article III states that the convention allows the utilization of the “environmental modification techniques for peaceful purposes” and calls for an international collaboration on these matters. With a full understanding that the advances in technology will open doors to climate modification, the preamble to the convention is enthusiastic about the use of such techniques to improve the “interrelationship of man and nature” and for the “preservation and improvement of the environment”. The ENMOD prohibits the hostile use of environmental alteration techniques, but provides leeway for non-lethal civilian applications, i.e. geoengineering. Fortunately, one of the signatories of the ENMOD convention left a note requesting the clarification of the ill-explained difference between “military or any other hostile purposes” and “peaceful purposes”.
The first presidential report found to exacerbate the “global warming” scenario was released in November 1965. The Environmental Pollution Panel and the President’s Science Advisory Committee prepared a white house report entitled Restoring the Quality of Our Environment. This publication was among the first to establish the linkage between the increases of CO2 gases from fossil fuel combustion and the rise of surface temperatures. One of the subpanel reports lists the dooming environmental impacts associated with the rise of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide gases, e.g. the melting of the Antarctic ice cap and the rise of sea levels. Surprisingly the only remedy that the panel of experts prescribes is “raising the albedo, or reflectivity, of the earth […] by spreading very small reflecting particles over large oceanic areas” (p. 127). The dispersed particles are assumed to remain close to the sea surface, have high reflectivity and produce the necessary changes in the amount of reflected sunlight. In addition, the injection of cloud condensation nuclei into the atmosphere will contribute to the formation of cirrus clouds at high altitudes. According to the report’s findings, these “geoengineering” methods have the potential for “modifying atmospheric circulation” to curb the warming effects associated with the increasing carbon dioxide gases. Due to the inexpensive aspect of spreading aerosolized particulates in the atmosphere, the white house science panel calls for “an early development of the needed technology” that can also be utilized for the diversion of hurricanes in the tropics.
Geoengineering is presented by professors from the world’s leading Universities as an option of last resort against global warming. This is evident from the numerous workshops and briefings conducted at the Council on Foreign Relations and the submitted white papers by the weapons scientist Edward Teller and his protégé Lowell Wood. In summation, geoengineering is an artificial way to alter the global atmospheric chemistry, which is being carried out under the pretext of offsetting global warming from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It will be accomplished via cloud seeding techniques to thicken the clouds by injecting highly reflective aerosols at the top of the atmosphere. The leaders of the climate change movement are propagating the near-apocalyptic worldview of the global climate reaching the catastrophic tipping point, and the science committees are convincing the governments that an “emergency measures” will have to be undertaken to overcome any “climate surprises” which were not foreseen in the computerized climate simulations. Most geoengineering schemes involve a controlled enhancement of the earth’s albedo, thus more sunlight can be scattered back to space. The cloud albedo modification will be accomplished through the atmospheric dispersion of the ice nuclei and various chemical compounds to affect cloud properties and cool down the climate.
From Wilson Quarterly Spring, 2007.
If one decides to gain an understanding about geoengineering schemes, first the reader of this article must grasp the technical fundamentals. The scientific basis is provided and articulated by several primary sources. Any diligent researcher will notice that geoengineers in their research papers often quote and refer the technical staff to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR4, 2007) and Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming, 1992 publication by the National Academy of Sciences. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) prepared and submitted the Synthesis and Assessment Product to the President and the Congress in January 2009, titled the Atmospheric Aerosol Properties and Climate Impacts, which was built upon the IPCC AR4, 2007. Although the report does not mention geoengineering, it lays the technical groundwork for an additional research and possible future applications. CCSP’s staff summarizes the current scientific understanding of aerosols global distribution, their properties and climate impacts.
Atmospheric aerosols are minute particles of different shapes and sizes suspending in the air. The natural sources of aerosols are volcanoes and the anthropogenic (manmade) sources are a variety of combustion activities, e.g. burning coal. Aerosols travel long distances and exert a global influence, e.g. pollutants originating in China can very well end up in North America. The measurements of aerosol properties can be obtained via satellite remote sensing and field campaigns that engage in the direct contact with the object of study. This methodology is also used to measure aerosols dynamics, evolution and spatial distribution. The obtained and analyzed microphysical properties of chemical particulates grant the insight for distinguishing different types of aerosols. The gathered data is later introduced into climate models and simulations are run to calculate the climatic impacts of aerosols. By the second assessment report the IPCC started to include data on the aerosol properties to determine if the cooling effects of aerosols can compensate for the positive radiative forcing of greenhouse gases. Levitating aerosols play a role of cloud condensation nuclei or ice nuclei on which water droplets form. Due to the fixed water content the increase in aerosol particles will lead to more cloud droplets, diminished droplet size and the outcome of brighter clouds, also known as the enhancement of “cloud albedo”.
The sun is the main engine for the earth’s climate. About 30% of sunlight is immediately reflected back into space and the rest is absorbed by different land surfaces. The reflected fraction of sunlight is called the “planetary albedo”. The large-scale studies and climate models suggest that by spreading highly reflective substances in the stratosphere, a space-based sunshade can be created and the earth’s albedo will increase.
The conclusive remarks of the US CCSP are that aerosols exert a negative radiative forcing and produce a net-cooling effect. Therefore additional large-scale deployments of aerosols are bound to induce a cooling effect and curb the greenhouse warming process.
Geoengineering claims are substantiated by citing numerous examples of volcanic eruptions in the past and their impact on the earth’s surface temperature. For instance, in 1991 the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines injected large quantities of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. The chemicals remained in the upper levels of the atmosphere for several years, positively contributing to the formation of high cirrus clouds. The amount of reflected sunlight away from earth has increased, causing a cooling effect on the global scale of 0.5°C. Some scientists suggest that the greenhouse warming associated with CO2 emissions was delayed in ‘90s because the volcanic eruption added sulfate particulates with backscattering properties to the stratosphere. If similar mechanisms are replicated up to par in a controlled manner, climate engineers believe to produce results akin to the natural volcanic activities.
There are three prominent scientists who have led the climate modification techniques into fruition and civilian application. Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, Lowell Wood, Teller’s protégé and one of the Pentagon’s chief weapon designers and threat analysts, and Paul J. Crutzen, the Nobel prize recipient for chemistry. This high-class troika pulls the carbon-friendly carriage with the burden of climate engineering promotion in an attempt to resolve a global warming policy dilemma. The advocates for climate engineering label weather modification as a remedial or mitigating action against the severe climatic changes and promise to cure the earth’s ills with an innovative technological approach.
Edward Teller, Lowell Wood and Roderick Hyde of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at the University of California have prepared a white paper in 1997 under the name Global Warming and Ice Ages: I. Prospects For Physics-Based Modulation of Global Change. Since the programs to reduce fossil-fuel production and putting limitations on burning carbon based fuels are awfully expensive, this research paper proposes to apply novel, inexpensive techniques and avoid all climate failures in the process. The major challenge is to cancel the magnitude of greenhouse warming and to affect the rise of global mean temperature. The insolation-modulating scattering systems must be applied to accomplish the reduction of the incoming solar radiation. Different types of scattering material can be introduced at various altitudes in order to scatter sunlight back to space. Furthermore, the scattering material can be successfully recalibrated to be used in the project for preventing another Ice Age. The stratospheric deployment of several million tons of chemical material into stratosphere can reach the goal of 1% reduction of incoming sunlight and prevent the rise of world-wide average temperature by 3±1.5°C in the 21st Century. According to the studies conducted at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, it is technologically feasible to disperse large quantities of sulfur or aluminum oxides in the atmosphere to delay the greenhouse effects of CO2 emissions and induce global cooling. While most scattering systems were designed to be deployed at close proximity to the Earth, there is one option under review comprising the deployment of small metallic discs to the final destination between the Earth and the Sun. The highly durable metallic scattering materials will remain in outer space for indefinite period of time and be endowed with a capability to direct sunlight toward the earth for warming or backscatter sunlight for cooling purposes.
Suffice to say, the common themes which are prevalent in the geoengineering literature have not escaped this piece of work: the dispersion of aerosolized sulfates, the deployment of electrically-conducting sheeting in low Earth orbit and the call for an international cooperation on the research phase of these types of projects.
Due to the continuous propagation of Global Warming via mass-media the dangers of greenhouse warming have been instilled in our minds and displaced a more relevant menace to mankind: the next Ice Age. The conclusive words of the world’s preeminent scientists are: “Greenhouse warming of the Earth due to human activities is a possibility. […]In contrast, Ice Age-severity cooling…is a practical certainty” (p. 17). The scientists believe that a technology-based approach will prevent the global climatic failures of all types.
In the editorial essay “Albedo Enhancement by Stratospheric Sulfur Injections: A Contribution to resolve a Policy Dilemma?” an atmospheric chemist and Nobel laureate Paul J. Crutzen argues that the warming of the earth can be countered by backscattering solar radiation to space by increasing the cloud albedo. Based on the calculations from climate models, the effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and other CO2 emissions are already being countered by sulfate particles originating from natural sources. Naturally occurring sulfate particles act as cloud condensation nuclei affecting cloud properties and in end result increasing cloud albedo. The imminent threat of global warming and the failure to swiftly reduce anthropogenic (manmade) CO2 emissions by 60-80% will prompt governments to provide an alternative solution to this dilemma. The artificial enhancement of earth’s albedo by adding sunlight reflecting aerosols in the stratosphere is a quick mitigating response to the unraveling climate change. The task can be achieved by burning S2 (disulfur) or H2S (hydrogen sulfide) to produce SO2 (sulfur dioxide) and deliver it up into the stratosphere using artillery guns or balloons. Sulfur dioxide in the upper layers of the atmosphere will be converted through various chemical and micro-physical reactions into microscopic sulfate particles with stratospheric residence time of 1-2 years. The aerosols will reduce the amount of sunlight penetrating the atmosphere and compensate for the global warming process from CO2 gases. Artificially introduced aerosols are measured to be smaller than volcanic or naturally occurring sulfate particles, thereby increasing the amount of time the particles will remain in the stratosphere and reducing the cost of continuous deployment of aerosolized material. In addition to that, Paul J. Crutzen explores the alternatives and substitutes to burning sulfur. For instance, shooting up specially designed reflecting and self-orienting nano-particles, launching large clouds of mirrors between the earth and the sun and to replicate a “nuclear winter” conditions by dispersing soot particles in the atmosphere. In a nutshell, these remedial attempts seek to mimic and supercharge natural processes to deny access to the sunlight and decrease surface temperature. Unfortunately the paper does not dwell on the side effects likely to occur from such radical measures. Lastly, the atmospheric chemist makes a call to intensify research in this area, and refers for further reading to the National Academy of Sciences 1992 publication, Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming.
Scott Barrett, a professor at Columbia University, argues in his seminal paper The Incredible Economics of Geoengineering that climate engineering to combat global warming is one of the cheapest alternative options to the poor governmental attempts at general reductions of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. The feasibility of deliberate manipulation of the climate is substantiated by the low dollar value, easily attainable and cheap deployment schemes. The techniques to control global climate are receiving proper attention among leading scientists and technicians at major laboratories work tirelessly on the implementation phase of this grand project.
Dr. David W. Schnare from Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy stresses, in the testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, the inevitability of utilization of large-scale geoengineering projects.
Essentially the climate engineers seek to replicate natural processes and geoengineering is presented in the publicly available documents as a solution for uncontrolled climate change. However, there is an ominous dimension to a “climate change Manhattan project”, speaking in the frightening words of Jay Michaelson (JD Yale). Apart from whitening the skies and making sunrises and sunsets more vibrant, the geoengineering has a host of adverse impacts—dangerous and unintended consequences upon humanity and ecosystems. Generally the geoengineering schemes focus on the amplification of the Earth’s albedo and not on reducing the concentration of CO2 gases in the atmosphere. Henceforth, the acidification of oceans, the depletion of ozone layer and acid rain from burning sulfur are the most frequently mentioned side effects and undesirable consequences stemming from the deliberate addition of aerosols into the stratosphere.
The psychosomatic effects upon human beings are seldom explored in the literature copiously cited above. One can only engage in a meticulous study of statistical data supplied by national and global organizations to determine how ill people are getting in a new changing global environment. New types of allergies, widespread bronchitis, asthma developing in the adulthood and various respiratory diseases appear almost daily in the medical journals. According to the Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (2007), published by the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the prevalence of asthma has been steadily rising from 1970s to the present times. Air pollution is listed as one of the exacerbating environmental factors linked with the significant increase of the rates of asthma.
One of the most concerning impacts of aerosolized chemicals is the detrimental influence upon human respiratory system. This predicament of grave importance is not properly elaborated upon in the publicly attainable sources on climate engineering. Atmospheric Aerosol Properties and Climate Impacts mentions briefly that aerosols “when concentrated near the surface, have long been recognized as affecting pulmonary function and other aspects of human health” (p. 12), unfortunately the statement does not unfold into greater details.
If the idea of spraying dangerous chemicals over our heads is not enough to cause indignation, consider the effects of climate engineering on the global hydrological cycle. The gathered evidence from the past volcanic eruptions, e.g. Mount Pinatubo in 1991, indicates the possible hydrological impact from the injection of aerosolized sulfites into the upper layers of the atmosphere. Climate models suggest that the creation of the chemical shield by the planetary geoengineering will cause droughts and flooding in many regions, thereby impacting fresh water supplies and disrupting agricultural production. Human tampering with the global complex climate system may result in the decrease of precipitation over tropics and increase of precipitation over sea areas.
Since many folks are visually oriented nowadays and watch plenty of movies I will end this list of detrimental effects caused by geoengineering on the sci-fi note. Sooner or later the scientists can permanently wreck the sky and induce a constant precipitation akin to the movie Blade Runner (1982), where in each scene it was raining. The Matrix trilogy is hopeless as well, the clouds were artificially thickened and darkness covered the earth for many generations.
Regardless of what one believes about the reality of global warming, the geoengineering is extremely relevant today. As alarm about climate change is spreading, the Universities and various think tanks are submitting proposals, announcing projects and conducting workshops on climate control. According to the National Academy of Sciences the geoengineering on the planetary scale is being currently deployed; the scientists are busy working in the field campaigns to study the impact of aerosols on the climate. The Texas Department of Agriculture supports the climate modification projects in some parts of the state and the US Air Force announced in their 1996 research paper, Weather as a force multiplier, that by the year 2025 they will “own the weather”. It is utterly important to start practicing your civil duty, i.e. being informed on issues, and demand the opening of the public forum to discuss weather modification projects under the condition of equal participation from the working class people. Given the sophistication of such technologies and their futuristic appeal, the military and private institutional implementation thereof is inescapable. Thus the procrastination of the American citizenry on this crucial subject is destined to become an instrument of our own demise.
Written by Arseniy A. Kozlov