The quest to save the planet from global warming has reached a fevered pitch with the White House expressing interest in studying a method of cooling the planet down by blocking the sun.
The White House released a congressionally mandated report Friday that indicates the Biden Administration is supportive of the study of solar radiation modification.
Sometimes referred to as geoengineering, the strategy tries to reflect more sunlight back into space in hopes of reducing the amount of its heat coming down to the lower levels of the atmosphere, thereby reducing global warming.
The authorized study will look at stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) and marine cloud brightening (MCB). With SAI, stuff is sprayed into the stratosphere, which is a middle layer of the Earth’s atmosphere starting at around 30,000 to 60,000 feet depending on latitude.
Marine cloud brightening is a cloud seeding technique to make clouds brighter so they reflect more sunlight back out into space.
“Importantly, this report does not signify any change in policy or activity by the Biden-Harris administration,” the White House said in a statement accompanying the report.
“That’s somewhat comforting,” David Blackmon, a longtime energy analyst, writer and author of “Energy Transition Absurdities,” told Cowboy State Daily.
Blackmon said the desire to study the proposal is still reflective of the “completely irrational nature of the movement” to address climate change.
“We end up with this daily barrage of absurd stories in the energy space,” Blackmon said.
Meanwhile, programs to transition away from fossil fuels end up wasting billions of dollars, he said
Quoting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was referring to socialism, Blackmon said the problem with the energy transition is you eventually run out of other people’s money.
While the White House was only signaling its support for studying the idea, Blackmon said a lot of bad ideas on addressing climate change begin with studies.
A group of climate activists lobbied politicians in Congress to get them to mandate the study, he said.
“The very fact that someone out there in the climate alarm community is pushing this to friendly people in Congress means this is a serious idea,” Blackmon said.
San Francisco-based Make Sunsets isn’t waiting for the federal study or any federal programs.
For a fee of $10, you can buy a cooling credit, and the company launches a balloon that releases 1 gram of “reflective clouds” into the stratosphere. The company says this will offset the warming effect of one ton of carbon for one year. There are discounts for bulk orders.
Don Day, Cowboy State Daily meteorologist, said he has significant concerns about putting aerosols into the stratosphere.
In the lower atmosphere, aerosols are dispersed and removed from the air, just like smoke from forest fires. In the stratosphere, that’s not the case.
“Anything you put into the stratosphere is going to stay there a long time,” Day said.
The other problem is that there’s no certainty that the plan will produce the results its supporters want.
“With this experiment or plan, are you guaranteeing what you want to happen will happen, and what gave you the right to do that?” Day said.
The other issue, Day said, is the law of unintended consequences. Geoengineering could produce consequences those carrying out the plan don’t intend to happen.
Day said geoengineering is based on the idea that the planet has a temperature that’s optimal and humans shouldn’t do anything that might change it — or if they do, they need to do something to change it back.
“I have a big problem with a group of scientists in a room around a big table deciding what the optimal temperature is,” Day said. “Sorry, I’m not a fan.”