New Statesman – Cloud control


Interesting angle on the global warming debate from the New Statesman, in which Bjorn Lomborg dares to suggest that the environmental pressure group consensus on what to do about climate change is wrong. He points out how the discourse in the media is being controlled, with the use of words like “denier” and “sceptic” acting as sticks to hit people with. Use the word “denier” about somebody, and you’re immediately aligning them with the neo-Nazi holocaust deniers.

Lomborg argues that the cost of cutting carbon emissions as radically as some propose (including The Guardian newspaper, with its 10:10 campaign) would actually cause more damage than the predicted rise in global temperatures.

Anyone who reads science fiction will already know about some of the more radical weather engineering solutions (look at Kim Stanley Robinson’s series of three books, for example), and Lomborg argues that pumping sea water into the air to whiten the clouds is one idea worth considering, which would cost a fraction of the unrealistic and unreachable carbon emissions targets.

The researchers conclude, remarkably, that we might be able to cancel out this century's entire global warming with 1,900 unmanned ships spraying seawater mist into the air, at a total cost of about £6bn. When the benefits from averted warming are calculated, this is the equivalent of doing more than £2,000 worth of good with every pound spent.
Marine cloud whitening would obviously not solve every aspect of global warming. But it would achieve more, much faster, than any plausible carbon cuts could ever do, and at a fraction of the price. If we are concerned with solving global warming, then we have a moral obligation to research what we could achieve with this technology.