UN meets to mull climate change quick-fix options

Jun 19, 2011 by Marlowe Hood
Worker assembles solar panels at the Gabardan solar electric plant at Losse in south western France in 2009. On the heels of another halting round of talks on climate change, UN scientists this week will review quick-fix options for beating back the threat of global warming that rely on technology rather than political wrangling.

On the heels of another halting round of talks on climate change, UN scientists this week will review quick-fix options for beating back the threat of global warming that rely on technology rather than political wrangling.

Experts from the (IPCC), meeting for three days from Monday in the Peruvian capital Lima, will ponder "geo-engineering" solutions designed to cool the planet, or at least brake the startling rise in Earth's temperature.

Seeding the ocean with iron, scattering heat-reflecting particles in the stratosphere, building towers to suck carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere, and erecting a giant sunshade in space are all on the examining table.

Critics say such schemes -- some of which have been tested experimentally -- are a roll of the dice with Earth's and its complex web of biodiversity.

And even if one problem is solved, they argue, it may be impossible to anticipate knock-on effects and unintended consequences.

There is a political danger as well, experts caution: the prospect of a quick fix to global warming could weaken an already fragile on the need to reduce or subvert complicated methods for measuring emissions cuts.

"It's a convenient way for Northern governments to dodge their commitments to emissions reduction," said Silvia Ribeiro of the ETC Group, a technology .

Evening rush hour traffic comes to a standstill on a hazy and polluted day in Beijing last December. On the heels of another halting round of talks on climate change, UN scientists this week will review quick-fix options for beating back the threat of global warming that rely on technology rather than political wrangling.

Last week, more than 100 organisations, including ETC and Friends of the Earth, sent an open letter to the IPCC "demanding a clear statement of its commitment to precaution and to the existing international moratorium on geo-engineering."

Only four years ago, in its landmark Fourth Assessment Report, the IPCC dismissed geo-engineering in a brief aside as charged with potential risk and unquantified cost.

But now the Nobel-winning panel is taking a closer look, a telling sign, for some, that the effort to tackle through politics is taking too long and bearing too little fruit.

Delegates ended another 12-day talkfest in Bonn on Friday under the UN Framework Convention on (UNFCCC), still deeply riven over who should cut their emissions, by how much and when.

Current pledges fall far short of holding temperature rise in check below 2.0 degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial levels, a widely accepted threshold for safety.

IPCC officials defend the new review on several grounds.

On the heels of another halting round of talks on climate change, UN scientists this week will review quick-fix options for beating back the threat of global warming that rely on technology rather than political wrangling.

To begin with, it is what members of the 194-nation intergovernmental body asked for, said Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a leading Belgian scientist and vice chair of the IPCC.

"My concern is to fulfill an IPCC mandate to provide the best information available to take informed decisions to protect the climate and the environment," he said by telephone.

"We will look at the advantages and possibilities, but we will also look at the potentially negative aspects."

The experts meeting Monday, he added, review the state of scientific knowledge but do not make policy recommendations.

"In the absence of an objective IPCC assessment, the only information available to policy makers would be from quite a diverse range of sources, some of which might have an interest at stake," he said.

Geo-engineering schemes can be as simple as planting trees to absorb CO2 or painting flat roofs white to reflect sunlight back into space, a technique already in use in many sun-baked urban settings.

They also include scattering sea salt aerosols in low marine clouds to render them more mirror-like, sowing the with reflective sulphate particles, or "fertilising" the ocean surface with iron to spur the growth of micro-organisms that gobble up CO2.

View taken this week of the 37-meter (120-foot) high statue "Christ of the Pacific", under construction on a hill overlooking Lima. UN scientists meetung in Lima this week will review quick-fix options for beating back the threat of global warming that rely on technology rather than political wrangling.

At the sci-fi end of the scale is a proposal -- which exists, for now, only on paper -- for a sunshade positioned at a key point between Earth and the Sun that would deflect one or two percent of solar radiation, turning the planet's thermostat down a notch.

In an analysis published in September 2009, the Royal Society, Britain's academy of sciences, judged that planting forests and building towers to capture CO2 could make a useful contribution -- once they are demonstrated to be "safe, effective, sustainable and affordable."

It also noted that blunting the impact of solar radiation would still not lower atmospheric concentrations of CO2, which is also driving ocean acidification.

Explore further: New research on Earth's carbon budget

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mememine69
2.3 / 5 (17) Jun 19, 2011
I'm not the only one contacting authorities and law makers and the justice departments to have the leading scientists and NEWS EDITORS charged for this needless panic of a false war called Climate Change. We missed getting Bush. We need a Nuremberg Trial again.
If you love the planet, be happy for it and be relieved that the planet you love so much will not experience a life ending crisis of climate change. Climate change was a political and cultural industry, not science and not pollution, or energy or waste or population. It was a criminal exaggeration that served as a comfortable lie. Meanwhile, the UN had allowed carbon trading to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 25 years of climate control instead of the obviously needed population control.
NikFromNYC
2.8 / 5 (13) Jun 19, 2011
The IPCC has just been caught with a Greenpeace employee as a lead author on it's latest renewable energy report. Their claim of 80% of energy from renewables by mid-century was based on a report written by same author in cooperation with a renewable energy consortium!

A new skeptic is being minted as we speak. Read the comments on this environmentalist who arranged that Maldives underwater cabinet meeting and who tossed a pie on skeptic Lombourg's face:

http://www.markly...enpeace/

You show solar panel clip art. How quaint, given that solar now provides a whopping 0.1% of electricity in the US.
WBHobbs
3 / 5 (12) Jun 19, 2011
It's good to see that the UN is beginning to admit that very few people/countries will sacrifice their lifestyles/wealth for expected reductions in temperature that over 50 years are so small as to not be significantly different from 0. If this is a real problem, and that is still a serious question, there are much more economical solutions that do not involve impoverishing countries and allowing millions to starve as resources are diverted from more urgent needs. Given their track record it appears that the IPCC is misdirected at best and perhaps criminal at worst. For that matter,the UN in general appears to be corrupt and disingenuous.
knowledge_treehouse
5 / 5 (4) Jun 19, 2011
"In an analysis published in September 2009, the Royal Society, Britain's academy of sciences, judged that planting forests and building towers to capture CO2 could make a useful contribution"

I wonder what kind of towers captures CO2.
dogbert
1.9 / 5 (13) Jun 19, 2011
Chicken Little is no longer content to squawk, despite the transfer of resources in response to his squeaky wheel strategy. Now, Chicken Little is seriously proposing vandalism.

Where is a chicken hawk when you need one?
BeamMeUpScotty
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 19, 2011
That any sane person would consider these desperate measures indicates how much trouble we're in.
Denying the problem will not save you from the suffering should we fail to act on mitigation and adaptaion.
dogbert
1.3 / 5 (12) Jun 19, 2011
That any sane person would consider these desperate measures indicates how much trouble we're in.


No, it is a measure of how insane these people are.
pubwvj
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2011
Beware of quick solutions.
Kev_C
4 / 5 (4) Jun 19, 2011
Sad but true fact is that the corporations don't want to stop polluting the planet because its profitable. You only need to look at the Arctic Ice situation. If its there they can't drill for oil or gas. If it melts then the skies the limit.
So the next best solution to the crisis(that despite the deniers on here is real and happening before our very eyes) the simple get out of jail solution is to let the geo-engineers try out their little table top experiments in the real world.
Talk about allowing the corporations to keep polluting whilst the geo-engineers develop a job for life mitigating for all the pollution that the corporations produce. And this is all assuming the geo fixes work.......which there is absolutely no proof on the entire planet that they will. In fact they are so dangerous as to be totally insane.
Anyway what makes the geo-engineers think they have the right to gamble with my life? Will someone answer that question? Meanwhile money has crossed palms again!

Shakescene21
3.2 / 5 (5) Jun 19, 2011
Most of these geoengineering fixes are pretty goofy, but it's an approach that should be researched because the world can't agree on other approaches. Technological research is very cheap and promising compared to most of the political schemes that have been suggested to control Global Warming. If we can make solar-electric cheaper than coal-electric, then the global warming problem will solved.
Seismedia
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 20, 2011
"Seeding the ocean with iron, scattering heat-reflecting particles in the stratosphere, building towers to suck carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere, and erecting a giant sunshade in space are all on the examining table."

Absolute insanity. If we really want to reduce the gradual warming of the globe, we need only understand the simple tenets of thermodynamics, that under the constant irradiation of the sun, the earth will get warmer by the degree to which it absorbs EMR and so reflecting as much as possible and then "beaming" heat into space is the only system-wide solution. If that's our goal, don't plant trees that by the very definition of Photosynthesis absorbs light, but rather chrome plate the entire surface to maximize reflectivity. Rather than absorbing solar energy in panels, we should be burning coal and oil and using the output to power high energy laser beams into space. That's how we REDUCE global warming. Sound stupid? So does a ferrous ocean or giant sun shade.
Seismedia
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 20, 2011
But why let a crisis go to waste, let's double down on the insanity!
zuggerjack
not rated yet Jun 20, 2011
No doubt it's now time to totally convert to alternative energy sources, especially space solar power satellites as put forth in a book I read called Sunstroke, written by US aerospace engineer David Kagan. Sunstroke describes in detail how a constellation of these satellites will convert solar power in space into concentrated microwaves that will beam the Sun's vast energy down to Earth for conversion into useful electricity to power our cities and military installations.

Space solar power is safer than nuclear and does not contribute to global warming, but does have some interesting risks as revealed in Dr. Kagan's book that can perhaps be ironed out.
stanfrax
1 / 5 (2) Jun 20, 2011
science brains are gonna love this - it started in 83 when a signal came from Russia http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/ - with only a few amateur reports coming in these things have been switching on and off around the planet for quite a while
stanfrax
1 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2011
were all on the same planet guys - lot of intelligent people on here - what on earth do you think is going on
Kev_C
1 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2011
Sounds like what I said earlier. Climate change suits the powers that be because it perpetuates their grip on power over the rest of us. By melting the ice caps it reveals the mineral wealth beneath. By pushing geo-engineering the emissions from all this toxic mineral exploitation can be mitigated for and they continue in power. Simple.
As for HAARP? Well I have always suspected these same powers in charge to be up to no good and it would not be a surprise to find they have been doing mad scientist experiments without our knowing it. All to maintain their power.
What's really funny though is they think that their power over the rest of us is completely invincible. Poor deluded fools still don't get it.
Seismedia
1 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2011
Space solar power is safer than nuclear and does not contribute to global warming


Wha...!? C'mon, you're kidding, right!? You realize of course that regardless of what name you give it, solar power's coming from the same source, going through the same atmosphere, right!? Have you considered the messy expense of putting up a satellite to beam down energy in microwaves, what would otherwise come down in their natural wavelengths?! When said satellite is not in between the sun and earth, you'd of course now be ADDING to global warming rather than just wasting a satellite through lossy microwave transmissions, right? You're making the "Giant Solar Shades" idea sound better and better -- at least it would block the inbound energy (aka "heat") from the sun. Please tell me how a satellite beaming down high energy microwaves is safe and how it would not contribute to global warming, noting the periods of non-aligned position mentioned above.
stanfrax
1 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2011
frenchie
5 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2011
@ seismedia.

Are you familiar with concepts such as attenuation and beamwidth. While i'm not saying arrays of solar panels in space is a good idea,, it is however an idea. Due to atmospheric attenuation, the power generated by a solar panel on the surface of the earth vs in space is going to be drastically different.

How about beamwidth? highly directional satellites have a very narrow beamwidth allowing forvery little power outside of their FOV (field of View) and can be steered electronically by phasing their elements (see phased arrays) so i'm unsure as to your reference of non aligned positions.

Finally i'd like to point out that the visible / UVA / UVB spectrum used in solar panels has a completely different interaction with the atmosphere than a RF transmission would (at say 2.3 GHz). So while it's the same source and same atmosphere, it's a different attenuation

However for all its possible interesting applications, the cost would probably be prohibitive.
Howhot
3.2 / 5 (5) Jun 20, 2011
Interesting how the AGW deniers will get post all kinds of crap about political stuff but can produce a single VALID piece of evidence showing that 1) No correlation between CO2 levels and average global warming trends. 2) CO2 levels not causing ocean acidification 3) CO2 levels not correlating to sea level rise. 4) CO2 levels not causing glacier melting. 5) CO2 levels not causing extreme weather changes. Fools like that meme69 idiot are the same people that would rather see the earth trashed to rather than accept truth for what the evidence shows. The world is heating up and it's due to man burning fossil fuels! Your an fool not to recognize what mother nature is saying to you right in your face.
Seismedia
2 / 5 (3) Jun 21, 2011
@French

While i'm not saying arrays of solar panels in space is a good idea, it is however an idea.


Here's an idea, let's do NOTHING! That's right, rather than waste more $Bs of money and effort, further trashing the economy through waste and government fiat, let's just carry on until we actually have a "good idea". If the present ideas don't even rate as "good", then by definition, they are "bad" ideas.

How about beamwidth? Highly directional satellites have a very narrow beamwidth allowing forvery little power outside of their FOV (field of View) and can be steered electronically by phasing their elements (see phased arrays)


The question remains why there would be any value in putting up a satellite to "beam" the energy down to us which is coming our way, ANYWAY. Is there a reason we can't absorb and "beam" the solar power to the same receiver from ground based panels!?
FrankHerbert
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 21, 2011
It seems Seismedia has never heard of clouds.
frenchie
5 / 5 (2) Jun 21, 2011
As a scientifically oriented mind and an engineer, I believe doing nothing is always the wrong action. Breakthroughs and discoveries never happen through the corporate and production centers of industry. They spawn instead from research centers wherever they be colleges, research institutions, ect...
Arpanet is a perfect example of government (through DARPA) funding that led to major innovation ---> see the internet.

Additionally good ideas aren't always obvious. One idea may seemed to be crackpot and turn out to have invaluable applications. an example: AC current from Tesla over DC current from Edison.
Science and research relies heavily on funding from governments. Scrutiny in that funding is important.

Finally, an idea doesn't have to be good or great to be worth investigating. See the definition of brainstorming. Cost analysis will reveal wherever it is feasable afterward. That's what proposals are for.

....more
frenchie
5 / 5 (1) Jun 21, 2011
As to your last question, I'll reiterate my original post's 3rd paragraph. ANY energy which has to interact with a medium experiences some loss due to refraction (see snell's law). It's why the sky is blue.

Space is not a medium, it is essentially a vacuum and so any signal from 1 space-born item to another has optimal transmission assuming perfect receivers.

So why does it matter since we need to "beam" down the power anyway?

At different frequencies (or wavelength, remember lambda= c/frequency where c speed of light and lambda = wavelength), the attenuation experienced by radio signals is different. For example the resonant frequency of water is at 22.64GHz making it a TERRIBLE frequency to try to transmit anything at as your signal will just bounce off water vapor in the atmosphere every which way. (aka Full Attenuation).

Thus there are frequencies where you can "beam" 1W of energy and get .95W on the ground. Vice versa you can also get .50 or less.

frenchie
5 / 5 (1) Jun 21, 2011
While this example may not seem to matter, in practice, small differences in efficiency have a HUGE impact especially when you apply them to large scale computations such as solar panels.
For example, a decade ago these panels were maybe 15% efficient and are now approaching 28% (Needs fact checking although i'm fairly sure). On a large scale, that means you can power twice as many things as before for the same cost.

My point is cost analysis shouldn't be done with arbitrary numbers (omg spend x$ Billion trillion). it's a drawn out process that neither you nor I can see. Again, that's why we have proposals. We estimate. Arbitrarily stating that this or that shouldn't be funded is foolish.

Anyway, I'll let it rest. Please note all numbers are ficticious except for the water absorption band and the current photovoltaic efficiency research (does need double checking thou).
omatumr
1.8 / 5 (11) Jun 21, 2011
The very foundations of modern science may be shaken and strengthened by the rapidly crumbling story of CO2-induced global warming.

See today's Skeptical Swedish Scientists news story, "Sun, Sun, Sun" !

http://skepticals...sun-sun/

And the ATI report that a lawsuit has been filed "in federal district court in the District of Columbia to force the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to release ethics records for taxpayer-funded global warming activist Dr. James Hansen specifically records that pertain to his outside employment, revenue generation, and advocacy activities."

"ATI seeks to learn whether NASA approved Hansens outside employment, which public financial disclosures and other documents reveal to have brought him at least $1.2 million in the past four years."

www.atinstitute.o...-hansen/

Oliver K. Manuel
frenchie
4.5 / 5 (2) Jun 22, 2011
Those aren't biased source huh?. Drilling into the paper(http://www.univer...hiatus), it states:

It has not been proven whether there is a causal connection between low sunspot activity and cold winters. However lower earth temperatures have been observed during low sunspot activity"

"Hill said that some researchers say that the Suns activity can also play a role in climate change, but in his opinion, the evidence is not clear-cut. Altrock commented he doesnt want to stick his neck out about how the Suns declining activity could affect Earths climate, and Penn added that Cycle 25 may provide a good opportunity to find out if the activity on the Sun contributes to climate change on Earth."


-----
Please explain how the foundation of science have been shaken. if anything, this possible slowdown should show us the extent of the sun's effect on earth's climate in a very direct way.

as for ATI, the website is pure bias.
omatumr
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 22, 2011
In addition to Hansengate,

http://noconsensu...kes-off/

Solar physicist Leif Svalgaard is in the news trying to explain evidence of variations in the Sun's UV and TSI during cyclic changes:

http://tallbloke....rousers/

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
frenchie
5 / 5 (1) Jun 23, 2011
Please explain how the foundation of science have been shaken. if anything, this possible slowdown should show us the extent of the sun's effect on earth's climate in a very direct way.

And stop reposting the same crap all over every single article.
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (7) Jun 26, 2011
"Experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),"

every article that begins with an oxymoron gets a "1"
dogbert
1 / 5 (6) Jun 26, 2011
jonnyboy,

Read your comment and laughed. Excellent observation.

Unfortunately, I gave your comment a 1 when I meant to give it a 5.

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