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Obama's Global Warming Solution

John Holdren, director of the White House Office Of Science and Technology for the Obama administration, has come up with a tentative plan to fight global warming. He wants to put particulate pollution into the air to reflect back the sun's rays. Actually, this is not an original idea. Factories and cars used to do this all the time. It was called air pollution, and the government took steps to curb it. And now somebody in government is suggesting we need it after all.

To be fair, I should stress again that this is only a tentative plan, and Holdren admits there could be problems with it. He has other ideas though. One of them is to build towers that serve as synthetic trees and suck carbon dioxide out of the air.

I heard a local radio host talking about this plan the other day. He erroneously said the trees would take carbon monoxide (not dioxide) out of the air. This was an interesting error. It might have been a slip of the tongue. Or he might have been like me when I first started hearing about the need to lower carbon emissions. Whenever someone said "carbon dioxide" (as opposed to just carbon) I thought that couldn't be right, and they must have meant carbon monoxide. But it was right.

Which all makes me wonder if there are still a lot of people who think the goal is to lower carbon monoxide emissions (which is quite reasonable, since CO is toxic) rather than carbon dioxide (which is a lot less reasonable, since CO2 is what we exhale.)


Okay, at first I thought it was a joke, but I've looked at the article now. It might actually be a good idea, if global warming really does get as bad as they claim it will. Emphasis on if. Also, I read this gem:

"There has been widespread resistance in the scientific community to attempts to deliberately modify the environment on such a large scale."

I wonder how opposed some of those same people would be to attempts to deliberately modify human society on such a large scale.

It used to be: "Cut down the trees and kill the wild animals to make way for farms and trains". Nowadays, it's "farms and trains are inferior to trees and wild animals so must be curtailed for their sake." As I've said before, all they've done is flip the old Empire morality on its head.

Edited at 2009-04-13 05:28 am (UTC)
Morn came and went--and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread,
Of this their desolation; and all hearts were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light...

This is an absolutely insane idea. The earth's ecosystem is unpredictable enough without purposefully attempting to drastically change worldwide temperature. Byron wrote the poem above in response to the eruption of Mount Tambora that caused 'The Year Without Summer'. Though volcanos are magnificent events on a grand scale pretty far beyond most of what we do, conspicuous engineering could possibly make up for the relative lack of punch -- and very regrettably.

A drop of just a couple degrees can result in more snowfall, which stays on the ground longer, which reflects more light away from the sun -- leading to lower temperatures, and more snowfall... reflecting more light away from the sun. It's a runaway reaction that can last millennia and has been documented through discovered evidence multiple times. Heck, some climatologists think global warming could actually trigger an ice age: Heat creates greater cloud cover and greater amounts of moisture in the air, and the clouds cause a greater reflection of light, reducing temperature and as the clouds empty out their stores of vapor as snow, the same breakaway effect as above happens.

Most things we release into the atmosphere that are wholly synthetic particles have a hard time getting themselves back out of the system. I would be hesitant to make any kind of drastic change to the atmosphere when we don't really have the capability to reverse it. Nature processes carbon and the carbon cycle is a real and present thing. I don't think the aluminum dioxide cycle is.