Tag Archives: geoengineering

Naomi Klein: Green groups may be more damaging than climate deniers

By Jason Mark, 5 September, 2013. Source: Earth Island Journal

Photo: Ed Kashi

Photo: Ed Kashi

During your career you’ve written about the power of brand names, populist movements around the world, and free market fundamentalism. Why now a book and film on climate change?

You know, The Shock Doctrine, my last book, ends with climate change. It ends with a vision of a dystopic future where you have weak infrastructure colliding with heavy weather, as we saw with Hurricane Katrina. And rather than working to prevent future disasters by having lower emissions, you have all these attempts to take advantage of that crisis. At the time, it seemed to me that climate change was potentially going to be the biggest disaster-capitalism free-for-all that we’ve seen yet. So it was quite a logical progression for me to go from writing about disaster-capitalism inThe Shock Doctrine to writing about climate change. As I was writing The Shock Doctrine, I was covering the Iraq War and profiteering from the war, and I started to see these patterns repeat in the aftermath of natural disasters, like the Asian tsunami and then Hurricane Katrina. There are chapters in that book on both of those events. Then I came to the idea that climate change could be a kind of a “people’s shock,” an answer to the shock doctrine – not just another opportunity by the disaster capitalists to feed off of misery, but an opportunity for progressive forces to deepen democracy and really improve livelihoods around the world. Then I came across the idea of “climate debt” when I was doing a piece on reparations for Harper’s magazine. I had a meeting with Bolivia’s climate negotiator in Geneva – her name is Angélica Navarro – and she put the case to me that climate change could be an opportunity for a global Green Marshall Plan with the North paying climate debts in the form of huge green development project. Continue reading

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Report: The artificial intelligence of geoengineering

January 22 2013. Source: ETC Group

Photo: ETC Group

Photo: ETC Group

Gaia is complicated. From stratospheric currents to undersea rivers – and from plankton to palm tree emissions and sequestrations – quantifying, qualifying and calibrating planetary systems is at least as challenging as understanding genes or neurons. Despite decades of modeling, we are no more likely to predict next month’s best picnic day than we are to anticipate the proclivities of our DNA or to trace a memory in our cranium. Frustratingly, we have learned to map and manipulate genomes, geographies and memories, but we can’t control the consequences. Continue reading

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Geoengineering: Testing the waters

By Naomi Klein, October 27, 2012.  Source: New York Times Sunday Review

Jacob Escobedo

FOR almost 20 years, I’ve been spending time on a craggy stretch of British Columbia’s shoreline called the Sunshine Coast. This summer, I had an experience that reminded me why I love this place, and why I chose to have a child in this sparsely populated part of the world.

It was 5 a.m. and my husband and I were up with our 3-week-old son. Looking out at the ocean, we spotted two towering, black dorsal fins: orcas, or killer whales. Then two more. We had never seen an orca on the coast, and never heard of their coming so close to shore. In our sleep-deprived state, it felt like a miracle, as if the baby had wakened us to make sure we didn’t miss this rare visit.

The possibility that the sighting may have resulted from something less serendipitous did not occur to me until two weeks ago, when I read reports of a bizarre ocean experiment off the islands of Haida Gwaii, several hundred miles from where we spotted the orcas swimming.

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Rogue dumping of iron into ocean stirs geoengineering controversy

By Stephanie Pappas, 18 October, 2012. Source:  LiveScience.com

Chlorophyll levels off the west coast of Canada in August 2012, about a month after a controversial ocean-fertilization project.

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  • Chlorophyll levels off the west coast of Canada in August 2012, about a month after a controversial ocean-fertilization project.
  • Chlorophyll levels off Canada's west coast in August, 2011, before the controversial fertilization project.Chlorophyll levels off Canada’s west coast in August, 2011, before the controversial fertilization project.

A controversial experiment in which more than 200,000 pounds ofiron sulfate were dumped into the Pacific Ocean west of Canada has scientists calling for more transparency in geoengineering.

Geoengineering is any deliberate and large-scale manipulation of environmental processes in order to impact Earth’s climate. Some geoengineering projects, like the recent one, can have other impacts like boosting fish populations.

The project was conducted by a local group, the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, under the scientific advice of American businessman Russ George, formerly the CEO of a company called Planktos, Inc. The goal, according to Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, was to trigger plankton blooms to restore salmon and other fish populations. Phytoplankton, teensy floating plants at the base of the ocean food chain, need iron to grow.

Similar ocean-fertilization schemes have been proposed as a way to lessen climate change, as phytoplankton take up carbon dioxide on the ocean’s surface and sink to the bottom, removing carbon from the atmosphere.

This geoengineered approach to solving climate change is controversial, but even researchers who think it has promise said the Canadian experiment went about it the wrong way.

“It should have been done by a group of neutral scientists,” said Victor Smetacek, a researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany who conducted a small-scale ocean-fertilization experiment in 2009. Smetacek added, “The thing is, it’s going to give iron fertilization a bad name.”

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Stormy weather on cloud-seeding

By Liu Hongqiao, 08.13.2012, Source: Caixin online

Experts say uncertain rainfall yields and technological costs could hinder the large-scale expansion of weather modification programs

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Weather modification staff in Henan Province prepare to create artificial rainfall in June

(Beijing) –  Will it be clear skies or gray skies today? If a new program announced last November comes into place, the question may be more of a choice on the part of the government.

Already in place in thousands of counties across China are airplanes equipped with rocket-launchers and stockpiles of chemicals dedicated to inducing rainfall. Cloud-seeding programs have been in use in China for decades, but in May, the head of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) provided details on the new weather modification program, adding that the country would seek to increase precipitation by 3 to 5 percent in the next five years through cloud-seeding.

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Rules lacking for geoengineering projects for global warming

Note: Kudos to the Canadian ETC Group, as described here, one of the strongest and most effective voices against the false solution of geoengineering.

By Francie Diep, Aug 6, 2012. Source: Live Science

Diagram of geoengineering ideas
A diagram of the geoengineering projects people have proposed to combat climate change. The laws surrounding such projects are still uncertain.
CREDIT: Diagram by Kathleen Smith/LLNL


What if someone wanted to deploy a massive project to try to reverse climate change today? Perhaps some researchers wanted to spray sulfur particles into the stratosphere to reflect away some of the sun’s energy, cooling the Earth in an attempt to compensate for global warming. Or perhaps a group wanted to unload some fertilizer into the ocean, so more algae will grow and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Their actions may have global consequences, but would such projects have to answer to a global governing body?

Such geoengineering projects — Earth-altering plans to combat global warming — sound pretty futuristic. Indeed, it would be decades before such projects are likely to be deployed, if they ever are, say scientists InnovationNewsDaily contacted. Yet a little bit of the future is already here, as researchers have just started to propose outdoor experiments for technologies that would apply to geoengineering projects. Previously, researchers studied the effects of geoengineering in labs or using computer programs, but now a few groups want to try experiments outside of the lab. Harvard University researchers David Keith and James Anderson recently grabbed headlines for a proposal to put small amounts of sulfur particles into the air, to study how such particles interact with the atmosphere.
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US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon

Note: for info on why this is a dangerous and foolhardy geoengineering experiment, go to ETC Group’s website

Experiment in New Mexico will try to establish the possibility of cooling the planet by dispersing sulphate aerosols

by 

Cross-Posted from guardian.co.uk, 17 July 2012

Geoengineering : a rainbow wrapped around the sun

The field experiment in solar geoengineering aims to ultimately create a technology to replicate the observed effects of volcanoes that spew sulphates into the stratosphere. Photograph: Gallo Images/Getty Images

Two Harvard engineers are to spray sun-reflecting chemical particles into the atmosphere to artificially cool the planet, using a balloon flying 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

The field experiment in solar geoengineering aims to ultimately create a technology to replicate the observed effects of volcanoes that spew sulphates into the stratosphere, using sulphate aerosols to bounce sunlight back to space and decrease the temperature of the Earth.

David Keith, one of the investigators, has argued that solar geoengineering could be an inexpensive method to slow down global warming, but other scientists warn that it could have unpredictable, disastrous consequences for the Earth’s weather systems and food supplies. Environmental groups fear that the push to make geoengineering a “plan B” for climate change will undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

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Bill Gates backs climate scientists lobbying for large-scale geoengineering

Note: Besides Gates, another of “the 1%” funding dangerous and potentially disastrous geoengineering schemes is Murray Edwards–who is currently transforming the pristine boreal forests of Alberta into vast open pit tar sands mines and toxic lagoons.  The tar sands gigaproject is a major reason why Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions have skyrocketed over the past several years.  Altruistic motivations?  I hardly think so…

–Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team

Other wealthy individuals have also funded a series of reports into the future use of technologies to geoengineer the climate

by John Vidal, February 4, 2012

Cross-Posted from The Guardian

Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates speaks at a breakfast hosted by Climate Solutions in Seattle

A small group of leading climate scientists, financially supported by billionaires including Bill Gates, are lobbying governments and international bodies to back experiments into manipulating the climate on a global scale to avoid catastrophic climate change.
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The scientists, who advocate geoengineering methods such as spraying millions of tonnes of reflective particles of sulphur dioxide 30 miles above earth, argue that a “plan B” for climate change will be needed if the UN and politicians cannot agree to making the necessary cuts in greenhouse gases, and say the US government and others should pay for a major programme of international research.

Solar geoengineering techniques are highly controversial: while some climate scientists believe they may prove a quick and relatively cheap way to slow global warming, others fear that when conducted in the upper atmosphere, they could irrevocably alter rainfall patterns and interfere with the earth’s climate.

Geoengineering is opposed by many environmentalists, who say the technology could undermine efforts to reduce emissions, and by developing countries who fear it could be used as a weapon or by rich countries to their advantage. In 2010, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity declared a moratorium on experiments in the sea and space,except for small-scale scientific studies.

Concern is now growing that the small but influential group of scientists, and their backers, may have a disproportionate effect on major decisions about geoengineering research and policy.

“We will need to protect ourselves from vested interests [and] be sure that choices are not influenced by parties who might make significant amounts of money through a choice to modify climate, especially using proprietary intellectual property,” said Jane Long, director at large for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US, in a paper delivered to a recent geoengineering conference on ethics.

“The stakes are very high and scientists are not the best people to deal with the social, ethical or political issues that geoengineering raises,” said Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace. “The idea that a self-selected group should have so much influence is bizarre.”

Pressure to find a quick technological fix to climate change is growing as politicians fail to reach an agreement to significantly reduce emissions. In 2009-2010, the US government received requests for over $2bn(£1.2bn) of grants for geoengineering research, but spent around $100m.

As well as Gates, other wealthy individuals including Sir Richard Branson, tar sands magnate Murray Edwards and the co-founder of Skype, Niklas Zennström, have funded a series of official reports into future use of the technology. Branson, who has frequently called for geoengineering to combat climate change, helped fund the Royal Society’s inquiry into solar radiation management last year through hisCarbon War Room charity. It is not known how much he contributed.

Professors David Keith, of Harvard University, and Ken Caldeira of Stanford, are the world’s two leading advocates of major research into geoengineering the upper atmosphere to provide earth with a reflective shield. They have so far received over $4.6m from Gates to run theFund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research (Ficer). Nearly half Ficer’s money, which comes directly from Gates’s personal funds, has so far been used for their own research, but the rest is disbursed by them to fund the work of other advocates of large-scale interventions.

According to statements of financial interests, Keith receives an undisclosed sum from Bill Gates each year, and is the president and majority owner of the geoengineering company Carbon Engineering, in which both Gates and Edwards have major stakes – believed to be together worth over $10m.

Another Edwards company, Canadian Natural Resources, has plans to spend $25bn to turn the bitumen-bearing sand found in northern Alberta into barrels of crude oil. Caldeira says he receives $375,000 a year from Gates, holds a carbon capture patent and works for Intellectual Ventures, a private geoegineering research company part-owned by Gates and run by Nathan Myhrvold, former head of technology at Microsoft.

According to the latest Ficer accounts, the two scientists have so far given $300,000 of Gates money to part-fund three prominent reviews and assessments of geoengineering – the UK Royal Society report on Solar Radiation Managementthe US Taskforce on Geoengineering and a 2009 report by Novin a science thinktank based in Santa Barbara, California. Keith and Caldeira either sat on the panels that produced the reports or contributed evidence. All three reports strongly recommended more research into solar radiation management.

The fund also gave $600,000 to Phil Rasch, chief climate scientist for thePacific Northwest national laboratory, one of 10 research institutions funded by the US energy department.

Rasch gave evidence at the first Royal Society report on geoengineering 2009 and was a panel member on the 2011 report. He has testified to the US Congress about the need for government funding of large-scale geoengineering. In addition, Caldeira and Keith gave a further $240,000 to geoengineering advocates to travel and attend workshops and meetings and $100,000 to Jay Apt, a prominent advocate of geoengineering as a last resort, and professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Apt worked with Keith and Aurora Flight Sciences, a US company that develops drone aircraft technology for the US military, to study the costs of sending 1m tonnes of sulphate particlesinto the upper atmosphere a year.

Analysis of the eight major national and international inquiries into geoengineering over the past three years shows that Keith and Caldeira, Rasch and Prof Granger Morgan the head of department of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University where Keith works, have sat on seven panels, including one set up by the UN. Three other strong advocates of solar radiation geoengineering, including Rasch, have sat on national inquiries part-funded by Ficer.

“There are clear conflicts of interest between many of the people involved in the debate,” said Diana Bronson, a researcher with Montreal-based geoengineering watchdog ETC.

“What is really worrying is that the same small group working on high-risk technologies that will geoengineer the planet is also trying to engineer the discussion around international rules and regulations. We cannot put the fox in charge of the chicken coop.”

“The eco-clique are lobbying for a huge injection of public funds into geoengineering research. They dominate virtually every inquiry into geoengineering. They are present in almost all of the expert deliberations. They have been the leading advisers to parliamentary and congressional inquiries and their views will, in all likelihood, dominate the deliberations of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as it grapples for the first time with the scientific and ethical tangle that is climate engineering,” said Clive Hamilton, professor of Public Ethics at the Australian National University, in a Guardian blog.

The scientists involved reject this notion. “Even the perception that [a small group of people has] illegitimate influence [is] very unhealthy for a technology which has extreme power over the world. The concerns that a small group [is] dominating the debate are legitimate, but things are not as they were,” said Keith. “It’s changing as countries like India and China become involved. The era when my voice or that of a few was dominant is over. We need a very broad debate.”

“Every scientist has some conflict of interest, because we would all like to see more resources going to study things that we find interesting,” said Caldeira. “Do I have too much influence? I feel like I have too little. I have been calling for making CO2 emissions illegal for many years, but no one is listening to me. People who disagree with me might feel I have too much influence. The best way to reduce my influence is to have more public research funds available, so that our funds are in the noise. If the federal government played the role it should in this area, there would be no need for money from Gates.

“Regarding my own patents, I have repeatedly stated that if any patent that I am on is ever used for the purposes of altering climate, then any proceeds that accrue to me for this use will be donated to nonprofit NGOs and charities. I have no expectation or interest in developing a personal revenue stream based upon the use of these patents for climate modification.”.

Rasch added: “I don’t feel there is any conflict of interest. I don’t lobby, work with patents or intellectual property, do classified research or work with for-profit companies. The research I do on geoengineering involves computer simulations and thinking about possible consequences. The Ficer foundation that has funded my research tries to be transparent in their activities, as do I.”

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