Is there anything to the Bower/Choularton/Latham et. al. ideas?

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Fergus

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Apr 24, 2007, 10:21:21 AM4/24/07
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Okay, so geoengineering is a controversial area, but when I first came
across this idea, of creating CCNs in critical ocean areas using
superfine seawater 'mist', I must admit to being a bit taken with it.
On the surface, there is a lot going for the proposal, not least of
which is the relatively low cost and low carbon footprint.

I know that it doesn't answer the problem of CO2, but as an interim
measure, is it workable? I haven't seen the paper in JAS yet (it has
been accepted), and there doesn't appear to be that much interest; is
there a good reason for this?

For those who don't know what I am referring to, here is Steve
Sadler's summary, with pictures: http://www.brdt.org/content/fx.brdt/resources/S_Salter_paper_BBK.pdf

and here is a draft of the JAS paper:
http://www.mmm.ucar.edu/people/latham/files/GlobwarmBoweretal(2006).pdf

and my apologies to any of the scientists involved if putting these
here is inappropriate.

I'm putting this here because I'd like to hear a reasoned discussion
of the merits or otherwise of the proposal. Anyone got a response?

Fergus

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Apr 24, 2007, 10:21:21 AM4/24/07
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James Annan

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Apr 26, 2007, 6:19:38 AM4/26/07
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Fergus wrote:
> Okay, so geoengineering is a controversial area, but when I first came
> across this idea, of creating CCNs in critical ocean areas using
> superfine seawater 'mist', I must admit to being a bit taken with it.
> On the surface, there is a lot going for the proposal, not least of
> which is the relatively low cost and low carbon footprint.
>
> I know that it doesn't answer the problem of CO2, but as an interim
> measure, is it workable? I haven't seen the paper in JAS yet (it has
> been accepted), and there doesn't appear to be that much interest; is
> there a good reason for this?

> I'm putting this here because I'd like to hear a reasoned discussion
> of the merits or otherwise of the proposal. Anyone got a response?

In my (probably minority) view, the general lack of interest in (or even
mild revulsion at) the various geoengineering ideas is indicative of the
extent to which various factions are actually hooking a general
sustainability/conservation meme on the back of climate change. To these
people, solving the "problem" of climate change by controlling the
climate isn't actually their aim, it is merely the means to promote
sustainable living. The latter is no bad thing in itself, and there is a
rather obvious potential for overlap, but it is (IMO) a big mistake to
be too wedded to the strategy one can be sneaked in under the pretense
of addressing the other.

I fully accept that future climate change has the potential to cause
significant disruption, at least on a local scale (I don't see us ending
up huddling round the arctic coast with the last few polar bears,
dodging the methane fireballs, even as a worst case). But I don't
actually think that any reasoned analysis would support a return to the
pre-industrial state, except perhaps due to some sort of strong innate
preference for the (mythical?) "natural" state (as opposed to measurable
welfare considerations).

James

Hank Roberts

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Apr 26, 2007, 8:20:03 PM4/26/07
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On Apr 26, 3:19 am, James Annan <james.an...@gmail.com> wrote:...

Personally I think it's a neat idea, though I imagine these ships
would have to be defended to some extent.
Free fishing boats, solar powered? Consider the damage and theft
numbers for the various automated buoy systems out there now, they
really get hammered by people just stealing anything they can unbolt
or saw off and resell.

I keep hoping to hear from someone that there's a scenario that will
keep the ocean pH problem from going where it's headed. Has anyone
published estimates for any options there? A combined plan that
actually looks at both climate and pH at the same time would be
refreshing.


James Annan

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Apr 27, 2007, 8:19:18 AM4/27/07
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Hank Roberts wrote:
>
> I keep hoping to hear from someone that there's a scenario that will
> keep the ocean pH problem from going where it's headed. Has anyone
> published estimates for any options there? A combined plan that
> actually looks at both climate and pH at the same time would be
> refreshing.

Perhaps increasing the mixing rate of the ocean at high latitudes (cool,
so CO2 is relatively highly soluble) might help to get the acidity
distributed deeper through the ocean rather than concentrated in the
upper layer. Just a wild Friday-night stab in the dark, don't take it
seriously...

I did try to run the following idea past a ocean biogeochemist: Use wind
power to pump deep (nutrient-rich) water up to the surface, to increase
primary productivity, potentially burying carbon as detritus and also
increasing food production. He was full of reasons why it wouldn't work
(eg if it had a significant effect, there would be the risk of anoxia
due to the organic fallout, with various unwelcome consequences). Shame,
I was aiming to retire with my $25m windfall from Branson. I never got
as far as working if energy requirements made sense. I've heard of plans
to use "free" gravity power (the head of river run-off) to increase
mixing in fjords, so as to increase productivity (the bottom water is
often fairly stagnant, nutrient-rich but anoxic due to the sill
separating it from the open sea). In fact I'm sure it's been done at
least experimentally.

I'll have to get working on the floating rafts of coconut trees, with
genetically engineered heavy coconuts which sink to the ocean floor...

James

gerh...@aston.ac.uk

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Apr 28, 2007, 4:02:22 AM4/28/07
to globalchange
> I did try to run the following idea past a ocean biogeochemist: Use wind
> power to pump deep (nutrient-rich) water up to the surface, to increase
> primary productivity, potentially burying carbon as detritus and also
> increasing food production. He was full of reasons why it wouldn't work
> (eg if it had a significant effect, there would be the risk of anoxia
> due to the organic fallout, with various unwelcome consequences).

How does the biological pump work without there being anoxia somewhere
I wonder?

You'd think that if there was always enough oxygen, then some
enterprising bugs would fully consume the biomass and thereby all the
CO2 would be released again.

------------------------------

OTEC sounds like it's a very similar idea

http://www.nrel.gov/otec/what.html

-------------------------------

http://www.nrel.gov/otec/what.html

The above is a good and detailed report by the Royal Society, They are
dismissive of lime stone addition, saying too much material would be
required, and don't really discuss other options. They do say though
that there is a large store of calcium carbonate in sediments (30
million Gt of carbon equivalent, for comparison current fossil fuel
emissions are 7 Gt) and that over geologic timescales that should mean
little acidification, but apparently proxy data are too poor and
provide conflicting evidence about the pH of the oceans for periods in
the distant past when CO2 was above 1000 PPM to say much about how
this played out in practise.


The Cunctator

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Apr 30, 2007, 3:46:46 PM4/30/07
to global...@googlegroups.com
On 4/26/07, James Annan <james...@gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm putting this here because I'd like to hear a reasoned discussion
> of the merits or otherwise of the proposal. Anyone got a response?

In my (probably minority) view, the general lack of interest in (or even
mild revulsion at) the various geoengineering ideas is indicative of the
extent to which various factions are actually hooking a general
sustainability/conservation meme on the back of climate change. To these
people, solving the "problem" of climate change by controlling the
climate isn't actually their aim, it is merely the means to promote
sustainable living. The latter is no bad thing in itself, and there is a
rather obvious potential for overlap, but it is (IMO) a big mistake to
be too wedded to the strategy one can be sneaked in under the pretense
of addressing the other.

I think that is certainly a component of the skepticism; another major part is that the law of unintended consequences would imply that trying to solve one global unintended consequence of industrialization, the burning of fossil fuels, with another global scale industrial project could have bad unintended consequences of a similar scale.


CobblyWorlds

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May 1, 2007, 7:25:24 AM5/1/07
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On 30 Apr, 20:46, "The Cunctator" <cuncta...@gmail.com> wrote:

Gavin Schmidt at RC http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/06/geo-engineering-in-vogue/
"Think of the climate as a small boat on a rather choppy ocean. Under
normal circumstances the boat will rock to and fro, and there is a
finite risk that the boat could be overturned by a rogue wave. But now
one of the passengers has decided to stand up and is deliberately
rocking the boat ever more violently. Someone suggests that this is
likely to increase the chances of the boat capsizing. Another
passenger then proposes that with his knowledge of chaotic dynamics he
can counterbalance the first passenger and indeed, counter the natural
rocking caused by the waves. But to do so he needs a huge array of
sensors and enormous computational reasources to be ready to react
efficiently but still wouldn't be able to guarantee absolute
stability, and indeed, since the system is untested it might make
things worse. "

I agree with Gavin, we need to get the damn fool to siddown and stop
waving his arms about. But as I don't think we can stop our emissions
I think we need to accept the process, act to mitigate it's effects at
the effects end (not the cause end). Because meddling with the causal
end is as stupid and dangerous as our causing the problem itself.

Adaptation by as organised a retreat as possible in the face of the
changes. This is a battle we cannot win.

I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly.....

Fergus

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May 1, 2007, 11:56:32 AM5/1/07
to globalchange

I remember in C S Lewis's 'Perelandra' (AKA Voyage to Venus), Ransom
spends most of the time floating around on a huge 'island' of trees
and jungle/foliage', which was one of many floating around on the
ocean. On the right scale, is this feasible? Would it work to absorb
CO2? I suspect there might be a problem with freshwater, for the trees
and other wildlife... and who would own them? And who might decide to
occupy them...
Just thinking out loud.
MODS: if my messages multi-repeat, can you delete them? It's not me.
It's getting so as I'm worried about posting anything...

Gareth

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May 2, 2007, 5:07:55 PM5/2/07
to globalchange

There's a floating island of vegetation in The Life Of Pi by Yann
Martel. No mention of GE coconuts, though.

gerh...@aston.ac.uk

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May 7, 2007, 7:25:50 AM5/7/07
to globalchange
> Gavin Schmidt at RChttp://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/06/geo-engineering...

> "Think of the climate as a small boat on a rather choppy ocean.

What in terms of world climate is equivalent to the boat being turned
over? It sounds pretty apocalyptic.

With the example given by Gavin we know exactly what catastrophe will
happen, if somebody starts jumping up and down, and we also know that
it is hard to exactly counteract by somebody else jumping up and down,

I don't see this for the climate system. What catastrophe is
supposedly made more likely by two equivalent and opposite forcings,
because they don't exactly off-set?

It is entirely possible that such an unknown effect from the two
opposite forcings would cause / contribute to apocalypse, but
likewise, it might prevent / attenuate it.

That depends entirely on what constitutes "apocalypse".

Fergus

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May 8, 2007, 6:24:16 AM5/8/07
to globalchange

The implication appears to be that, under conditions of imbalance, the
inertial moment will be reached and exceeded; there comes a point
beyond which the possibility of avoiding capsize is zero. But this is
simply an analogy for the 'tipping point' idea of dangerous climate
change. There is a big difference, though, between the points of
balance of a dinghy and a small yacht' one is inherently unstable( the
ballast in a dinghy is the person sailing it, and the point of balance
is relatively high up), the other inherently stable (relatively). if
the climate is a boat, surely it is more like a yacht than a dinghy?

I read Gavin's point as being that reducing an artificially-generated
instability by introducing an equal and opposite force which is also
an instability may be a bad idea. What would be better would be to
remove the original source of the problem; get the idiot to sit down,
as it were.

The yacht analogy might be an interesting one to pursue, in some ways.
The system is, relatively speaking, quite stable. The combination of
forces applied to it in the process of sailing make use of the
stability to generate motion without serious risk of capsize. But
yachts do capsize, and sometimes sink, or spring leaks. Sometimes,
they are also sailed badly. We, the 'helmsman', are responsible for
sailing the yacht, trimming the sails, and responding to changes in
the forces acting on our boat in such a way as to maintain safety,
whilst also making progress through the water. Most accidents at sea
are consequence of either equipment failure (in the case of experts),
or poor handling of the vessel.

Now; our boat is in the ocean, making way, and a message comes through
the radio that conditions are changing for the worse up ahead; we
should anticipate the possibility of a storm. What do we do? We cannot
just 'give up'. Do we change direction, avoiding the storm risk, do we
adjust the sails and turn the motor on, maintaining progress but
adapting to expected problems? Or do we carry on, regardless, trusting
that our boat is tough enough and we know what we are doing, or that
the storm isn't going to be too bad, or is likely to miss us? Only a
total idiot would add more sails, throw his lifejacket overboard, and
head straight for the centre of the storm.

Adaptation: keep going but adjust to the forces; Mitigation: change
direction, minimising the risk of having to face the storm. Current
policy... ?

James Annan

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May 8, 2007, 7:54:39 AM5/8/07
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Fergus wrote:
>
> I read Gavin's point as being that reducing an artificially-generated
> instability by introducing an equal and opposite force which is also
> an instability may be a bad idea. What would be better would be to
> remove the original source of the problem; get the idiot to sit down,
> as it were.

I don't think "instability" really comes into it. He's really saying
that given a strong external forcing with somewhat unpredictable (but
probably significant) results, the "safest" thing to do, if one is
worried about the consequences, is to reduce the forcing rather than try
to design a roughly equal but opposite forcing to cancel it out. I think
invoking chaos as a justification for this is a bit of a stretch - after
all, we claim to be able to predict climate changes due to external
forcing pretty well on the grossest scales (certainly temperature
anyway). We also have several historical experiments to tell us what
large injections of sulphate aerosols do to the climate system.

James

gerh...@aston.ac.uk

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May 8, 2007, 10:21:39 AM5/8/07
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> What would be better would be to
> remove the original source of the problem; get the idiot to sit down,
> as it were.

As far as I can see, the primary reason for avoiding "anthropogenic
change" and believing that leaving things as they are is the safe
option, is the idea that climate has been decently stable for 10,000
years, and life supporting stable for hundreds of millions of years.

>From which it would follow that in the absence of anthropogenic
change, we'd hopefully have a decent chance of the climate staying
stable and life supporting, while any anthropogenic change might cause
trouble, possibly a lot of trouble, because we don't really understand
the Earth system.

I think this is probably the main point of Gavin's example. What
troubles me about that point is:

1. In the absence of a known mechanism, we don't know how to even put
a percentage risk on the danger. It might be negligible, it might be
90% probable. We just don't know and have no objective way of
telling.

We just argue that life has done well absent the disturbance for so
long it ought to continue doing well. And we don't know that with a
disturbance included, because the system is too complicated. Nor do we
know what the danger actually is.

2. The comparison with the past doesn't work, if something else has
changed in the system. This may be a factor that has allowed the
evolution of industrial society (for example, it might be that a long
period of evolution is required for industrial civilisation to get a
chance and out of trillions of planets like Earth, 99.99999% go the
way of Venus or Mars before an industrial civilisation ever gets up
and running).

3. And industrial society will change a lot of stuff by being present
on the planet, all of which might contribute to apocalypse, or
respectively attenuate it. Just changing one thing (say reducing
sulphate aerosol levels), while leaving another unchanged (say GHG's)
might be exactly what tips us over the edge.

4. Reference to unknown dangers with unknown causes and probabilities
makes rational decision making impossible.

Continuing from point 3, how do you assess whether an anthropogenic
change is significant, without knowing what the danger is, or how
likely it is, or what its causes and remedies are?

The argument that things went pretty well for thousands of years,
could therefore be applied to demand the cessation of industrial
society and a return to a population of less than a billion with all
recent technology abandoned.

But even then, it's not clear that the same probability applies as for
the last few hundreds of millions of years, after all we might already
be beyond the point of no return ..., lest we make some further
changes rather than go back to the stone age.

Hank Roberts

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May 10, 2007, 5:39:35 PM5/10/07
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On Apr 27, 5:19 am, James Annan <james.an...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I'll have to get working on the floating rafts of coconut trees, with
> genetically engineered heavy coconuts which sink to the ocean floor...
>
> James

Too late, I'm beating you out with my orbiting giant potato vines; the
center of mass is at geostationary, the leaves and roots trail in the
atmosphere, to soak up CO2 and that far greater greenhouse gas, water
vapor ---- and the potatos are growing on roots extending radially
outward beyond the center of mass.

Still working on the timing so when the tubers are released they go
into transit to Mars, to contribute carbohydrates to the terraforming
project.

James Annan

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May 10, 2007, 8:20:00 PM5/10/07
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I think someone isn't taking this entirely seriously.

Perhaps I should quayle at pointing out such trivia as a spelling
mistake, but isn't there an 'e' in potatoe?

:-)

James

Gareth

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May 11, 2007, 6:58:52 AM5/11/07
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On May 11, 12:20 pm, James Annan <james.an...@gmail.com> wrote:
> isn't there an 'e' in potatoe?

> James

Depends what's on the end of your foote.


Fergus

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May 13, 2007, 7:45:29 AM5/13/07
to globalchange

Like I said, geoengineering in itself is an 'issue'; fair enough. But
nobody has said anything about the 'seaspray' project yet. Maybe
nobody is up to date on it or isn't really interested; fair enough.
But I still want to know whether such a project is, scientifically,
sound. I still want to know what might be wrong with the idea (taking
aside the overarching issue for the moment). I still want to know why
the team hasn't even got funding to produce a working full-size
prototype and test its effects.

If we are in a situation (as implied by Jim Hansen) where irreversible
changes may kick in as a consequence of what we do over the next ten
years, would not a successful project such as this at least buy us
some time, at a relatively low cost?

And mentioning Hansen, hats off to James (& Jules), because he's too
modest to say anything about it himself, for the citation in Hansen's
latest ACP paper, 'Dangerous anthropogenic interference with climate -
a GISS model E study', which uses their 2006 paper in justification
for the parameters used in the model run set-up (I think that's right).

gerh...@aston.ac.uk

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May 13, 2007, 3:36:52 PM5/13/07
to globalchange
> And mentioning Hansen, hats off to James (& Jules), because he's too
> modest to say anything about it himself, for the citation in Hansen's
> latest ACP paper, 'Dangerous anthropogenic interference with climate -
> a GISS model E study', which uses their 2006 paper in justification
> for the parameters used in the model run set-up (I think that's right).

I noticed that as well, that's certainly one citation James can be
proud off.

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