[extropy-chat] Climate skepticism patterns

Hal Finney hal at finney.org
Thu Jun 8 01:27:57 UTC 2006

Recently I've run across a couple of presentations on technological
solutions to reverse global warming.  The most interesting is to put
stuff into the upper atmosphere to block UV light.  Not only does this
reduce warming due to sunlight, it has an immediate payoff in terms of
reduction in skin cancer.  Analyses suggests that it would actually pay
for itself in terms of just that effect, independent of the benefits
for climate change.

Here is one presentation, a 7-minute audio interview with UCI physicist
(and science fiction author) Greg Benford:


And here is a paper by Dr. Edward Teller of Livermore Labs on the subject,
which I think is the work Benford is referring to:


Teller's paper actually describes two mitigation schemes, one involving
putting stuff in the stratosphere, and the other a more ambitious plan
to station material at the Earth-Sun L1 point.  This is a semi-stable
orbital point approximately a million miles towards the Sun from the
Earth.  Teller et al calculate that only 3000 tons of smart material
located at L1 would diffract away enough sunlight from Earth to eliminate
global warming.  Of course it will be some time before we can put or
manipulate this much material in space.

Benford suggests (in his interview) beginning a pilot scheme to put 100
micron particles into the arctic stratosphere during the summer, in order
to try to reverse the loss of arctic sea ice and save the polar bears.
By design (and in fact, it's hard to avoid) these would snow out every
year so they have to be replaced each summer, at an annual cost of about
$100 million, he estimates.

The bottom line is, as Benford notes, "we're going to have to run this
planet."  Sooner or later the message will sink in that Kyoto and other
conservation efforts are too little, too late (and too expensive).
Geo-engineering will be forced on the human race, luddites and all,
by the climate change threat of the 21st century.

Hal Finney

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list