Feb 26, 2013

How Bill Gates is engineering the Earth to resist climate change

Brightening marine clouds to reflect more sunlight? Coating the Earth with a solar shield of sulphate particles? From the new book Earthmasters, how science -- and Bill Gates -- could tackle climate change.

Geoengineering — deliberate, large-scale interventions in the Earth’s climate system to counter the effects of global warming — is now the subject of extensive research around the world. If nations seem unable to implement plan A, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, then, some believe, we must prepare plan B — schemes such as fertilising the oceans so they soak up more carbon dioxide, brightening marine clouds so they reflect more sunlight, or coating the Earth with a solar shield of sulphate particles.

Although still in its early days, the constituency for geoengineering is now developing around a network of individuals with personal, institutional and financial links. At the centre of the network is a pair of North American scientists actively engaged in geoengineering research: David Keith and Ken Caldeira.

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8 thoughts on “How Bill Gates is engineering the Earth to resist climate change

  1. Andy Ward

    I think the Greeks called it ” hubris”, and like Icarus , i suspect these semi insane geeks may end up falling back to earth . Witness our helplessness in the face of major events these past few years . Many prior civilisations on earth have trod this well worn path of self delusion .

  2. Andybob

    I always thought that geoengineering was a crazy idea that would prompt everyone to implement avoidance mechanisms for less cost and no adverse impact. Just because we’re not doing those things, doesn’t make it less crazy.

  3. Mark Duffett

    Somewhat strange that Hamilton omits any mention of Gates’ and Branson’s efforts to promote innovative nuclear energy as a climate response, at least from this extract. Maybe he covers this elsewhere in his book.

  4. Roger Clifton

    Are you a sucker for spin? For heavens sake, do your arithmetic…

    There are 40 gigatons per annum of CO2 to bury. How much area is to be dedicated to sequestration — a thousand square kilometres? Okay, that comes to 40 tons per square metre per year of CO2 that has to be captured and buried. That is every year, year after year, without ever escaping.

    Who would be silly enough to believe that! Could it be that we actually want the emissions to continue, and would shout nonsense rather than admit being party to an environmental crime of historic proportion?

  5. dropBear

    I wonder how much more insanity we will tolerate from our dear leaders.

    It seems like madness is a bit like a drug. Tolerance increases with exposure.

  6. Microseris

    It seems like a question of which is the least worst option. Once geoengineering starts I suspect there will be no going back and it will become ever more complex to manage.

    With the lack of real action from any quarter, I think we may need to consider M&rk D*ffett’s nuclear option especially if its next-gen.

    The problem with this option is it may facilitate business as usual (for a while) as all our other environmental problems escalate.

  7. mattsui

    Is it just me or does spraying sulphur into the air, painting clouds white, casting lime into the seas, and so on seem a bit like POLLUTION to any body else?
    What these “Scientists” are proposing, if done on another planet, would rightly be referred to as terra-forming. Perhaps Gatsey and his mates should just build themselves a rocket ship and p.o. to Mars.
    and please take Branson with you.

  8. Steve777

    And I suppose if all the lime in the Oceans or the Sulphate in the atmosphere causes problems, well the world’s taxpayers can pay corporations more big bucks to come up with a technology to suck some of it out. Interesting to think about how all this could be implemented – it would require global consensus like emissions reductions. What if your neighbour wants a warmer climate or doesn’t want to breath sulphate?

    It’s not going to happen, but it will make a few investors rich(er). And the fossil fuel industry’s involvement – I suppose that’s like tobacco companies investing in a pill to cure lung cancer so they can keep on marketing addictive poison.

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