The Public Is Against Geoengineering The Climate
    By News Staff | January 13th 2014 09:25 AM | 11 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    Members of the public generally have a negative view of climate engineering, the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the environment to counteract climate change, according to a new paper. This makes some sense. If we can't predict the weather a week from now, it's very difficult to say we can predict the far more complicated climate after physical changes are made to the inputs.

    Climate engineering is one idea to combat the rise in atmospheric CO2 due to the burning of fossil fuels. While emissions in the US and some other nations have dropped, places like China, India and Mexico are all exempt from climate treaties and have continued to rise. Climate engineering could involve techniques that reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere or approaches that slow temperature rise by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface.  

    The authors did representative to undertake what they say is the first systematic large-scale evaluation of the public reaction to climate engineering.

    Co-author Professor Damon Teagle of the University of Southampton said: "Because even the concept of climate engineering is highly controversial, there is pressing need to consult the public and understand their concerns before policy decisions are made."

    Lead author, Professor Malcolm Wright of Massey University, said: "Previous attempts to engage the public with climate engineering have been exploratory and small scale. In our study, we have drawn on commercial methods used to evaluate brands and new product concepts to develop a comparative approach for evaluating the public reaction to a variety of climate engineering concepts."

    The results show that the public has strong negative views towards climate engineering. Where there are positive reactions, they favor approaches that reduce carbon dioxide over those that reflected sunlight. 

    "It was a striking result and a very clear pattern," said Professor Wright. "Interventions such as putting mirrors in space or fine particles into the stratosphere are not well received. More natural processes of cloud brightening or enhanced weathering are less likely to raise objections, but the public react best to creating biochar (making charcoal from vegetation to lock in CO2) or capturing carbon directly from the air."

    Nonetheless, even the most well regarded techniques still have a net negative perception.

    The work consulted large representative samples in both Australia and New Zealand. Co-author Pam Feetham said: "The responses are remarkably consistent from both countries, with surprisingly few variations except for a slight tendency for older respondents to view climate engineering more favorably."

    Wright noted that giving the public a voice so early in technological development was unusual, but increasingly necessary. "If these techniques are developed the public must be consulted. Our methods can be employed to evaluate the responses in other countries and reapplied in the future to measure how public opinion changes as these potential new technologies are discussed and developed," he said. 

     Published in Nature Climate Change.  


    "....the public react best to creating biochar (making charcoal from vegetation to lock in CO2) or capturing carbon directly from the air."

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    Stratosperic Aerosol Geoengineering is weather warfare and it is currently being implemented rampantly around the globe. Any "scientist" who isn't aware of this must not be observing the actual sky over their own heads.

    I would back up what you say, Max. " Giving the public a voice so early ...was unusual" and " the public must be consulted," says Prof Malcolm Wright.

    Aerosol Geoengineering has been observed and recorded in New Zealand skies from at least the year 2000. I have been observing and documenting these operations in my area of North Canterbury for six years, and there's no sign of any decrease in intensity, rather it is seriously polluting our atmosphere, and we the citizens of NZ have not given their permission to be sprayed, nor to have our weather manipulated.

    Either Mr Wright is being disingenuous, or he has never looked at the sky in NZ for at least ten years to see the disturbing changes being wrought by the deployment of aerial aerosol injection (geoengineering ) technology.

    When a complex system (like our climate) undergoes forcing (like with global warming from elevated GHG levels), it seldom changes rapidly, but instead generally resists change until it reaches a critical point, when it abruptly changes to a new more stable stable state. This is called "abrupt climate change" and has happened many many times in Earth's past. OK, maybe people are now against geoengineering, just like they are against costly and largely ineffective ways to go on a carbon diet. But what you can be absolutely certain of is that they will be against abrupt climate change.

    There is a simple and very inexpensive way to immediately cool down the Earth: just add a little (more) sun dimming pollution to the air. We already inadvertently cool down the Earth significantly with our short-lived sun dimming pollution. If we didn't like the results of the additional sun dimming aerosol in the air, we could just stop and it would realitively quickly wash out of the air. Frankly, it is a no brainer.

    Michael Martinez
    "... just add a little (more) sun dimming pollution to the air."

    Hm.  I think they are inadvertently trying that in China and so far the negative impact on citizen health is pretty extensive.

    Maybe we should just plant more trees and build more desalination plants to pipe water into the larger desert regions.

    Heck, if nothing else, we could just dig huge canals and pipe sea water into the larger desert regions.  Creating a few inland seas will change the climate and slow down the rising sea levels.
    First, adding more sun dimming pollution in terms of geoengineering (as opposed to inadvertently due to burning fossil fuels) was meant as an metaphor. Geoengineering could easily be done in the stratosphere using much less toxic particles, which wouldn't have much of an impact on human respiration.

    Secondly, there is no correlation in terms of scale between solar management 9(i.e. geoengineering) and "more trees," and "dig(ging) huge canals" or "more desalination plants to pipe water into the larger desert regions."

    Oh well, soon LENR will hit the market and mankind's GHG emissions will plummet. I believe the best use of my time is to spread the word about LENR, instead of pushing unpopular geoengineering schemes. Here is a primer on LENR:

    Check out this third-party verification of a LENR reactor that will soon hit the market:
    "Given the deliberately conservative choices made in performing the measurement, we can reasonably state that the E-Cat HT is a non-conventional source of energy which lies between conventional chemical sources of energy and nuclear ones." (i.e. about five orders of magnitude more energy dense than gasoline, and a COP of almost 6).

    This phenomenon (LENR) has been confirmed in hundreds of published scientific papers:

    "LENR has the demonstrated ability to produce excess amounts of energy, cleanly, without hazardous ionizing radiation, without producing nasty waste.” - Dennis Bushnell, Chief Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center

    "Total replacement of fossil fuels for everything but synthetic organic chemistry." --Dr. Joseph M. Zawodny, NASA

    By the way, here is a survey of some of the companies that are bringing LENR to commercialization:

    For those who still aren't convinced, here is a paper I wrote that contains some pretty convincing evidence:

    Michael Martinez
    "Secondly, there is no correlation in terms of scale between solar management 9(i.e. geoengineering) and 'more trees,' and 'dig(ging) huge canals' or 'more desalination plants to pipe water into the larger desert regions.'"

    Well, it's not my area of expertise but it seems to me that if we're accelerating global warming by releasing massive amounts of carbon into the air then we should be able to slow or reverse that acceleration by taking massive amounts of carbon out of the air.  Planting a few million acres of forest should accomplish something on a large scale.

    Creating a couple of inland seas in the Sahara desert would also, I suspect, provide a significant impact on North African climate.  I don't know if there are natural depressions that could harbor such seas or if we would have to figure out a way to build them step-by-step.  But it only took a few decades to reduce the Aral Sea (essentially a huge freshwater lake?) to a fraction of its former size.  So if we can shrink large bodies of water we can move them.  We've already dug the Suez and Panama canals so canal building is not out of the question.

    Western Australia could also experiment with some greenification strategies, and maybe China could work on the Gobi desert.

    Such projects would create jobs, use existing technologies, and open up vast new regions of land for settlement (including agriculture).  If altering the amount of plant-life on a global scale is not geoengineering, then I suppose we'll need to update a few dictionaries.

    I'm all for finding a cheap, safe, non-polluting alternative to burning fossil fuels but making that switch would probably take longer and cost more than just digging some canals, which would produce economic benefits relatively quickly.
    Thor Russell
    Theres a much cheaper way to stop some of this problem, stop subsidizing fossil fuels. Even without AGW it is a bad idea, as agreed by pretty much every economist.

    Stopping this is a "cheaper than free" way to reduce climate change as a result.
    Thor Russell
    Yes, but it's a little simplistic, as they don't acknowledge until the last paragraph. Energy is a strategic resource, just like food, just like science, we don't simply outsource those to the cheapest countries because then other countries are in control of your food, your power and your knowledge.

    I'm all for capitalism but there are limits. The Economist is free-market to the point of being libertarian but it's Idyllic to think losing hundreds of thousands of energy jobs and undergoing an economic collapse while oil-rich nations control energy and half of America lives in squalor is a positive, will be a net win just because it matches their politics.  In their world, only the rich have energy. Plus, they know full well there is a difference between a subsidy - where the government gives a business money to operate - and a tax credit, where a company simply pays less taxes on profits to be in one area rather than another. Yet they call both 'subsidies'. It's deceptive.

    Thor Russell
    I don't see what you are getting at with the strategic resource business. Yes, pretty much everything is a strategic resource, energy, food, water, housing, roads, education, health, computers that makes the term lose meaning and not be useful in discussions unless it is a lot more clear what is meant. Especially the article is not at all about outsourcing anything, mostly about removing direct subsidies for imported fossil fuels so I really don't see how not subsidizing a product from another country fits. Also with jobs, these 3rd world subsidizes don't create jobs but are more likely just to encourage wastage. 
    I have no idea where you get the idea about "undergoing an economic collapse while oil-rich nations control energy and half of America lives in squalor " comes from. The article is mostly not about America for a start. Phasing out subsidizes would lead to economic growth for the 3rd world and less squalor as the subsidizes in those countries mostly benefit richer people and not even in ways very useful to them. Much of what they are talking about is a direct subsidy not tax credit. Also a tax credit is definitely something pretty similar to a subsidy to me and many other people; what you find deceptive may not be the case for many others. If a politician in my country rejigged the finances so a tax credit was a subsidy and vice versa for some policy of theirs it would make little difference to whether I would support it, the total lost govt revenue would be what I would look at.

    Thor Russell
    we don't simply outsource those to the cheapest countries because then other countries are in control of your food, your power and your knowledge.
    But that’s what we have been doing in Britain for years now.

    And the anti-fracking protesters seem to be winning.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England