Pandora’s Box: Geoengineering

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The attempt to actively manipulate Earth’s atmosphere in the name of an imaginary climate threat based on a theory with absolutely no backing by empirical evidence and only supported by computer models is utterly irresponsible at best and criminal at worst. It is a lunacy gone wild that we all of sane consciousness must stand up against. Adding to such attempts the huge profit incentive of certain groups makes the climate geo-engineering no different from bio-terrorism.

This is not about a confused or corrupt science anymore,  it’s about the protection of the most precious life-giving environment on this Planet, our atmosphere, and the well-being and survival of humankind. We must act by raising our voices to stop this insanity!  –  Ned Nikolov, PhD -  Physical Scientist

Part 1: Playing God with Planet Earth

Imagine a time in the not too distant future when scientists try to mimic the effects of a volcanic explosion in a desperate bid to reverse global warming. Consider a climate emergency so severe that engineers create a sulphuric sunscreen, hoping to stop the melting of polar ice, turn back the rising sea and prevent the horrific storms that would send environmental refugees running for their lives.
Playing God With Planet Earth explores the last ditch efforts of scientists and engineers trying to avert a planetary meltdown.
As the threat of climate change grows more urgent, scientists are considering radical and controversial schemes to rehabilitate the climate. Since none of these wild—and possibly dangerous—ideas have ever been tried before, the filmmakers used a distinctive “painted animation” technique (like a “graphic novel”) to explore these futuristic scenarios.
“Human ingenuity could temporarily roll back the effects of global warming. At the same time, it could cause catastrophic damage and spark deadly political conflict,” says director Jerry Thompson.  “We’ve interviewed some of the world’s leading scientists, engineers, environmentalists, lawyers, and disaster-relief workers about the possible consequences of intentionally manipulating the climate—versus the risk of doing nothing.”
Salting the ocean with iron dust to trigger plankton blooms, shooting salt crystals into clouds to make them brighter, genetically-engineering “robo trees” to hoover carbon from the air — these are just a few of the big ideas under consideration. But the one form of “solar radiation management” likely to work fastest in a climate emergency would be to mimic the effects of a huge volcano by spraying clouds of sulphuric acid into the stratosphere. Jet drones or high-altitude balloons could do the job. Quick and cheap compared to breaking our addiction to carbon and retooling the industrial revolution.
Cheap and easy enough that any country feeling threatened by horrific storms or a rapidly rising sea level could decide to go it alone and launch one of these climate rehabilitation campaigns unilaterally. The problem? They might save themselves but cause unintended consequences for others by reducing rainfall, causing drought and mass starvation. Climate change and geoengineering could even lead to war.
Tinkering with the atmosphere: will it save the day—or trigger disaster on a planetary scale?

Playing God with Planet Earth – Watch the film online ( 45:08 minutes )

Playing God With Planet Earth was developed and produced by Lightship Entertainment Inc. in association with CBC Television, with the participation of The Canada Media Fund, The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit and The Province of British Columbia Film Incentive BC. The documentary was directed and produced by Jerry and Bette Thompson, and executive produced by Terence McKeown.

Part 2: Big names behind US push for Geoengineering

A coalition representing the most powerful academic, military, scientific and corporate interests has set its sights on vast potential profits
British scientists have pulled back from geoengineering projects but the US is forging ahead. Photograph: Gallo Images/Getty Images
UK scientists last week “postponed” one of the world’s first attempts to physically manipulate the upper atmosphere to cool the planet. Okay, so the Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering project wasn’t actually going to spray thousands of tonnes of reflective particles into the air to replicate a volcano, but the plan to send a balloon with a hose attached 1km into the sky above Norfolk was an important step towards the ultimate techno-fix for climate change.
The reason the British scientists gave for pulling back was that more time was needed for consultation. In retrospect, it seems bizarre that they had only talked to a few members of the public. It was only when 60 global groups wrote to the UK government and the resarch groups behind the project requesting cancellation that they paid any attention to critics.
Over the Atlantic, though, the geoengineers are more gung-ho. Just days after the British got cold feet, the Washington-based thinktank the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) published a major report calling for the geoengineering as “climate remediation”, the BPC report is full of precautionary rhetoric, but its bottom line is that there should be presidential leadership for the nascent technologies, a “coalition of willing” countries to experiment together, large-scale testing and big government funding.
So what is the BPC and should we take this non-profit group seriously? For a start these guys – and they are indeed mostly men – are not bipartisan in any sense that the British would understand. The operation is part-funded by big oil, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and while it claims to “represent a consensus among what have historically been divergent views,” it appears to actually represent the most powerful US academic, military, scientific and corporate interests. It lobbies for free trade, US military supremacy and corporate power and was described recently as a “collection of neo-conservatives, hawks, and neoliberal interventionists who want to make war on Iran“.
Their specially convened taskforce is, in fact, the cream of the emerging science and military-led geoengineering lobby with a few neutrals chucked in to give it an air of political sobriety. It includes former ambassadors, an assistant secretary of state, academics, and a chief US climate negotiator.
Notable among the group is David Whelan, a man who spent years in the US defence department working on the stealth bomber and nuclear weapons and who now leads a group of people as Boeing’s chief scientist working on “ways to find new solutions to world’s most challenging problems”.
There are signs of cross US-UK pollination – one member of the taskforce is John Shepherd, who recently wrote for the Guardian: “I’ve concluded that geoengineering research – and I emphasise the term research – is, sadly, necessary.” But he cautioned: “what we really need is more and better information. The only way to get that information is through appropriate research.”
It also includes several of geoengineering’s most powerful academic cheerleaders. Atmosphere scientist Ken Caldeira, from Stanford University, used to work at the National laboratory at Livermore with the people who developed the ill-fated “star wars” weapons. Together with David Keith, a researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada, who is also on the BPC panel, Caldeira manages billionaire Bill Gates’s geoengineering research budget. Both scientists have patents pending on geoengineering processes and both were members of of the UK Royal Society’s working group on geoengineering which in 2009 recommended more research. Meanwhile, Keith has a company developing a machine to suck CO2 out of the year and Caldeira has patented ideas to stop hurricanes forming.
In sum, this coalition of US expertise is a group of people which smell vast potential future profits for their institutions and companies in geo-engineering.
Watch out. This could be the start of the next climate wars.


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