Blocking the Sun to 'Save the Planet'

Richard Fernandez11 Aug, 2023 5 Min Read
This ought to do it.

In the eyes of the Biden administration nothing is more dangerous than global warming. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken can't rank nuclear war as more dangerous than "climate change." Recently Blinken was asked: "What is the greater threat to humanity in your mind, war or climate change?" His answer: "Well, you can’t, I think, have a hierarchy."

Recently the U.N. admitted it is not going to make its "climate change" targetsThe international community's currently stated goal is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The U.N. estimates that within roughly a decade, the target is liable to be breached. "The world won't end if it warms by more than 1.5 degrees," Jim Skea, the new head of the U.N.'s IPCC told Der Spiegel.

But politicians continue to act as if it will. Faced with defeat in the climate equivalent of nuclear war, the White House has started to study blocking sun’s rays to slow global warming "in response to a congressional requirement to provide a research plan for 'solar and other rapid climate interventions'." This was during the same week that European Union leaders opened the door to international discussions of solar radiation modification. There are significant risks associated with solar radiation modification; blocking sunlight could alter global weather patterns, disrupt food supplies, and lead to abrupt warming. But true to its logic the White House weighs those risks against the forecast dangers associated with a hotter planet. 

Something like this?

From an institutional point of view, planetary geoengineering is already gaining serious traction. The conventional wisdom that anyone who believes geoengineering and weather modification is a tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorist is belied by a Time Magazine report that Bill Gates and George Soros are now "obsessed" with solar radiation management. 

George Soros got onstage to talk about the existential risk that 'climate change' poses to human civilization... brightening the clouds over the Arctic to reflect the sun’s energy away from the melting ice caps... Bill Gates... backed a project by Harvard University scientists to test an idea to spray calcium carbonate into the atmosphere in the skies over northern Scandinavia in 2021... Jeff Bezos put Amazon’s supercomputer capabilities to modeling the effects of plans to inject huge amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere... Dustin Moskovitz, a billionaire Facebook cofounder, plowed funding... to study the potential effects of solar geoengineering.

The government wheels are already turning. A supercomputer is analyzing the effects of solar geoengineering to help "climate scientists" decide whether to modify the sunlight. "The machine, named Derecho, began operating this month at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and will allow scientists to run more detailed weather models for research on solar geoengineering." The attraction of Solar Radiation Management (SRM) technology is that it is cheap as geoengineering goes, -- a piddling $18 billion. It would "only" involve hundreds of aircraft stationed around the world making thousands of flights a year over the next century, constantly spraying aerosols in the atmosphere.

But it's the false cheapness of an addictive drug. Solar reduction would entail side effects for the entire planet. Acid rain, destruction of the ozone layer and the alteration of precipitation patterns were but a few, and yet in theory were merely palliative. The dangers are so great that some scientists believe further research into this technology should be halted altogether.

Is everybody nutty?

Aarti Gupta, professor of global environmental governance and politics, is one of the initiators of an open letter against public funding of solar geoengineering research signed by more than 450 scientists. The group argues that even with extensive simulations and modeling, the only way to completely understand the risks and effects of solar geoengineering is to fully deploy the technology on an unwitting planet, locking future generations into a geoengineered atmosphere. "There are so many things we don't necessarily understand about the climate system. We would only know those sort of irreversible consequences when they actually manifest."

Once SRM is begun, like an addictive drug, it can't be stopped without serious withdrawal effects. In fact, Termination Shock (a sci-fi novel by Neal Stephenson) "refers to the idea that once a solar geoengineering scheme begins, abruptly stopping it would result in rapid warming." Termination shock is a very real topic in the scientific literature. "If solar geoengineering masked significant warming, stopped abruptly, and was not resumed within a year or so... global temperatures would rapidly rise... might lead to more severe consequences than a gradual rise of the same magnitude. Some claim that solar geoengineering would basically be impossible to stop."

Solar geoengineering would also affect various groups of people differently. Some observers describe solar geoengineering as necessarily creating "winners and losers" and therefore doomed to be political. Nations fight over who gets the water; they will fight over who gets the shade. Some even think solar geoengineering is likely to be militarized. The U.N. Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques prohibits weaponizing solar geoengineering, but the U.N. has rarely stopped anything before.

Others rightly note that once this Pandora's Box is open, there's no end to the commitment -- and that, naturally, some sort of global governance mechanism would have to be created and maintained indefinitely. Writes Foreign Policy Magazine

The vast majority of government representatives we have spoken with want to learn and understand more about the risks, benefits, and governance challenges of SRM before they make decisions. There are far more questions than answers. But one thing is clear: whether you agree or disagree with SRM as a potential emergency tool to temporarily supplement existing efforts, the risks of the current lack of governance need to be addressed.

A recent report published by the U.N. Environment Programme, for example, calls for a “robust, equitable and rigorous trans-disciplinary scientific review process to reduce uncertainties associated with SRM and better inform decision-making.” Some scientists have called for banning the use of SRM and related research, while others are calling for more or more balanced research. A key governance gap to be filled relates to whether or not to pursue research, and if so, how.

Isn't "climate science" fun?

Yet maybe it is all unnecessary. Suppose there is no need to choose between a "climate crisis" and blotting out the sunlight? Why go down the endless geoengineering road? The premise continues largely to go unchallenged. The 2022 Nobel Prize winner in physics, Dr. John Clauser, who has disputed issues surrounding "climate change," recently was told he would not be speaking to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Here's what he was not supposed to say. "I don't believe there is a climate crisis. The world we live in today is filled with misinformation. It is up to each of you to serve as judges, distinguishing truth from falsehood based on accurate observations of phenomena." But if even Clauser can be muzzled, geoengineering may be coming to the world, needed or not.

Richard Fernandez is the author of the Belmont Club. He has been a software developer and co-authored Open Curtains which proposes privacy as an information property right.


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2 comments on “Blocking the Sun to 'Save the Planet'”

  1. Blocking the sun is one of those crazy, stupid plans, like gain of function virus research. Nobody in their right mind would actually do these things. Right?

  2. If all of the climate orgs, gov agencies and so-called climate scientists were serious about global temps they would insist all monitoring stations be updated to follow their own standards of accurate placement for temperature recording instruments, especially in urban environments. Don't hold your breath, though.

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