Terraforming the Earth to Save the Planet

Richard Fernandez14 Jun, 2023 5 Min Read
Thank you, "climate change."

What exactly happens when governments engage in "climate change mitigation" and how is it different from "geoengineering"? The distinction is almost entirely in their connotations. The former conjures up images of preserving nature, the latter giant engines reshaping the earth. In reality climate change mitigation and geoengineering are often indistinguishable from each. Take their respective approaches to controlling "greenhouse gases."

The E.U. says: "Mitigating climate change means... cutting greenhouse gases from main sources such as power plants, factories, cars, and farms... Reducing and avoiding our emissions requires us to reshape everything we do — from how we power our economy and grow our food, to how we travel and live, and the products we consume." Geoengineering's approach to exactly the same CO2 problem is given by the International Energy Agency (IEA). "Direct air capture (DAC) technologies extract CO2 directly from the atmosphere. The CO2 can be permanently stored in deep geological formations, thereby achieving carbon dioxide removal (CDR)... The captured CO2 can also be used, for example in food processing or combined with hydrogen to produce synthetic fuels."

They both use engineering techniques to manipulate the same physical quantities at the same scale. Both require "us to reshape everything we do," and necessitate government intervention in the form of monitoring and regulation. As DW notes, the trend is to roll the two together. "Is geoengineering set to become mainstream climate policy? Relying on emission reductions alone isn't enough — the political will required to lower emissions to the degree necessary simply isn't there. They think geoengineering might end up being our only choice. Despite being risky, they say the danger posed by not trying geoengineering is greater than trying it."

A Harvard publication points out that geoengineering may be needed to prevent the acidification of the oceans. The idea is to counteract this by filling the seas with CO2-eating plankton. "Ocean fertilization is the best studied ocean geoengineering method and may be able to reduce both ocean acidification and global warming... Iron is the main ocean fertilizer under consideration, and this process would be much cheaper and faster than planting more trees on land."

Almost by definition, only a planetary master plan will do the job. The Europeans, who seem to be the most forthright on this, make no bones about demanding control of everything to save the world. "Global cooperation is essential for all climate change mitigation. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement ensure cooperation across borders to tackle climate change and ensure a sustainable future." We're way beyond planting a tree in your backyard. They'll control the chemistry and biology of the oceans.

But there's more. Have you heard of solar radiation management (SRM)? This approach aims to cool the earth by reflecting a portion of the incoming sunlight back into space, reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface. One proposed method involves injecting aerosols into the stratosphere to mimic the cooling effect of volcanic eruptions. Nothing is off-limits.  Where does the mitigation end and where does the geoengineering begin?

Trust the Science.

They are one continuum. Filling the seas with plankton will affect the atmosphere, while SRM will affect the seas. Marine cloud brightening would involve introducing saltwater particles from the oceans up into the cloud layer. The particle-making machines would likely be carried on boats to different parts of each sea.

A second method, stratospheric aerosol injection, would involve casting reflective particles into the upper atmosphere. The particles might be sulfur dioxide, or, in some formulations, calcium carbonate or perhaps an engineered nanoparticle, with delivery most likely by a fleet of high-flying aircraft. This activity would replicate the cooling effect of a volcanic event. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, for example, produced a plume of gas containing some 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide, some of which was forced to high altitudes

All this has made even environmentalists nervous. The Harvard paper brings up the fear of unintended consequences. "Overgrowth of phytoplankton could cause algae blooms that deplete oxygen from water, thereby harming marine animals [and] destabilizing the marine ecosystem." It frets over the posssibility that solar radiation management may also backfire. "This can be studied in climate models, but it is difficult to test in the real world. There is also concern that the drop in sunlight may decrease plant growth, thereby increasing the amount of atmospheric CO2 and reducing crop yields."

They conclude that we need more data to proceed safely, even as we hasten to avert a "climate emergency." "The primary challenges of geoengineering are conducting field experiments to accurately assess potential consequences and developing international agreements to safely deploy and monitor geoengineering technologies." But this takes time; which brings us to the real risk inherent in both climate change mitigation and geoengineering. Government is in a hurry to implement changes to nature without precedent in human history, but needs more data.

There have not been many real-world experiments on a scale sufficient to make realistic predictions for the projects proposed. Testing on small scales does not necessarily reflect what will happen if done on a much larger scale. But testing on a global scale is indistinguishable from de facto terraforming, the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying a planet's atmosphere, volatile components, temperature, surface topography or ecology to conform to a government mandate; in this case the United Nations.

Controlling climate is highly complex and global. As AI experts at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Assured Autonomy note, "climate change is one of the most difficult scientific problems that humans have ever faced. It's a phenomenally complex system with an enormous number of variables... all shaped by a living planet that is constantly changing." Slow moving bureaucrats can't do it. In case you hadn't guessed it by now, our only hope is the machine. "AI as a tool is uniquely positioned to help manage these complex issues, due to its capacity to gather, complete, and interpret large, complex datasets on emissions, climate impact, and more," according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Google's Deepmind has already made record progress in controlling the ever-shifting, pulsating plasma sun at the heart of fusion reactors, able to change the shape of the magnetic containment field to match its shapeshifting captive. Therefore it is argued the same approach would make it possible to control ever-changing the environment. Humans would be too slow, but: "AI would enable us to explore things that we wouldn’t explore otherwise, because we can take risks with this kind of control system we wouldn’t dare take otherwise," he says. "If we are sure that we have a control system that can take us close to the limit but not beyond the limit, we can actually explore possibilities that wouldn’t otherwise be there for exploring."

If one accepts the Green premises, the planet must be saved by interventions which of necessity must encompass all earth's populations, land oceans and air. This means controlling millions of factors at a frequency likely exceeding the capacity of human control. The only existing control technology up to the task is artificial intelligence. Politicians like Rishi Sunak have ironically warned that AI is a danger like "climate change" without realizing the two are like horns of a dilemma. Buy into the Green Agenda and accept geoengineering and AI; reject AI and climate control becomes infeasible. They're stuck but don't realize it yet.

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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4 comments on “Terraforming the Earth to Save the Planet”

  1. >Johns Hopkins Institute for Assured Autonomy
    The wot?
    What garbage, any quantitative model is not automatically AI, and there is not even any kind of fixed definition for what it might mean to apply AI. Here's what doesn't work - "we have all this data and can't make any sense out of it so we'll build a machine learning system and that will save us." If you knew enough to build the system you'd already know the answer.

  2. How about if all those Eco-Freaks took up living in Grass Huts and Caves and see how they like it just beware of the Creepy Crawlies

  3. “Have you heard of solar radiation management (SRM)? This approach aims to cool the earth by reflecting a portion of the incoming sunlight back into space, reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface.”

    That’s the 21st century version. Somewhere in my office files I have a copy of a Newsweek article from the 1970s in which it reported a proposal by climate scientists of the day to spread black-carbon soot across the polar regions in order to absorb more infrared radiation and counteract the global cooling of the coming ice age caused by humans.

  4. Our planet needs more atmospheric CO2, not less. CO2 is the beginning of the food chain for all life on earth and free CO2 has decreased 90% in the last 170 million years, all the way down to near-starvation levels during recent glacial periods.

    If this trend had continued life on earth would've ended. It looks like industrial civilization, by freeing some of the trapped carbon, came along in the geologic nick of time to pull life back from the brink, but CO2 is still at semi-starvation levels. The biosphere absolutely still needs more of it.

    CO2 does have a very small warming affect, which is also unambiguously net-beneficial and not the least bit dangerous. The last 300+ years of warming pulled the planet out of the little Ice Age, a very beneficial development for mankind and other living things.

    CO2 could not have caused more than a small amount of that post Little Ice Age warming. Human increments to CO2 are far too small to have had any measurable effect on global temperature until the last 50 years, yet without even having a theory of what caused the previous 250 years of warming our 100% politically funded IPCC insists that the only thing that could possibly have caused the most recent bit of warming is human rock release of CO2.

    Total fraud. It was much more likely caused by the high levels of solar magnetic activity between 1920 and 2000, and the entire 300 years of warming was likely caused by the high average level of solar activity over those 300 years.

    From 1250 to 1700 the average sunspot number was about 40 and temperature fell in sawtooth fashion over those 450 years (the fall into the Little Ice Age).

    Since 1700 the average SSN was about 80. That is our best evidence for what drives climate change on the century time scale. An inactive sun cools, an active sun warms.

    With solar activity falling off a cliff in the early 2000s, the rational expectation going forward is for cooling, not warming, and unlike warming cooling really is dangerous, capable of feeding back on itself in accelerating fashion until half the world is buried under a mile of ice, with the next such episode due any millennium now.

    The only actual climate danger always has been and always will be global cooling. All else is politically funded phony science, attributable to the rotten and corrupt funding system set up by anti-science psychopath Al Gore's in his eight years as a Bill Clinton's "climate czar."

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