Question: What do the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill and geoengineering have in common?
Answer: Potentially catastrophic risk-taking with unproven technology in contexts not governed by even a semblance of sane law.
Geoengineering is a sly term for climatic engineering that is aimed predominantly at off-setting global warming.
Done large sacle, the following geoengineering proposals have foreseeably global effects.
Three geoengineering ideas with the potential to cause significant trouble
Three sample proposals for geoengineering include: (i) spraying sulfuric acid into the stratosphere, (ii) using sea water mist to seed clouds, and (ii) fertilizing phytoplankton growth so that the oceans absorb more carbon dioxide.
In addition to changing the climate and crucially important patterns of precipitation in undeterminable ways, these proposals have obvious flaws. Respectively:
(i) Sulfuric acid in the atomosphere leads to acid rain and depletion of the ozone layer. The aerosolized sulphuric acid idea is akin to escaping global warming by killing our planet in an acid bath, with an increased frequency of DNA mutations thrown in.
(ii) Large amounts of salt in the atmosphere are unlikely to stay in place without eventually affecting terrestrial habitats in some unforeseen way. It is difficult to visualize how fresh water rain could avoid picking up traces of salt, were it to fall thousands of meters through an air column with a heavy density of salt nuclei cloud seeds. We already struggle with limited fresh water supplies and arable agricultural land.
(iii) What happens when the surplus of phytoplankton disturbs the oceans’ ecologies? Or when the phytoplankton die and rest on the bottom; is the carbon dioxide going to stay with them or be released as the phytoplankton decompose?
Is the cure better than the disease?
Geoengineering enthusiasts justify their proposals by saying that global warming needs to be stopped, but without yet knowing whether their proposed cures will be worse than the disease.
Doing bad things and letting our kids and their kids pay the bill
Some geoenginnering smells like kicking problems down the road for our descendants to deal with. Science News [17(12):16-20 (June 5, 2010)] reported that one scientist somewhat minimized the acid rain problem by pointing out that sulfates would stay aloft in the stratosphere longer than they would lower in the air column. In other words, trouble would break loose later, rather than now.
Absence of law compounds the dangers to experimentation run wild
There is no law or enforcing authority to keep these sorts of experimentation within sane bounds.
Wars could occur because nations hold other nations accountable for bad things that have happened as a result of geoengineering.