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The delusions of the climate power bloc Solar geoengineering is just another fantasy

Can we dim the sun? (Photo 12/Universal Images Group via Getty)

Can we dim the sun? (Photo 12/Universal Images Group via Getty)


February 9, 2024   6 mins

We live in an age of climate doomerism, and culture has responded in kind. One of its best avatars is Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 film Snowpiercer, set on a Snowball Earth created when scientists released aerosols into the sky in a last-ditch attempt to stop global warming. The plan catastrophically backfires, wiping out most life on the planet, and leaving Chris Evans and Ed Harris in 2031, trapped on board a train bearing the last remnants of human life and ceaselessly circumnavigating the Earth. When I first saw the film, I remember thinking: “Thank God no one would be crazy enough to try something like that in real life.”

I was wrong. Over the past six months, several governments and international organisations — including the White House, the EU, the British research agency ARIA, the Climate Overshoot Commission, and various UN bodies — have produced reports that cautiously advocate the very same idea: releasing aerosols into the atmosphere in order to block sunlight from hitting Earth’s surface. The concept is known as solar engineering, or solar radiation modification (SRM), and it’s a specific type of geoengineering aimed at offsetting climate change by reflecting sunlight (“solar radiation”) back into space.

The idea of solar engineering is not new, but for a long time it was relegated to the fringes of the scientific community — and the realms of science fiction. However, as the very existence of these reports makes clear, the concept has been attracting more and more attention in recent years, largely thanks to the growing panic over climate change. And much of the interest in solar engineering stems from the fact that, unlike other climate mitigation policies, which require decades to yield any significant results, “SRM offers the possibility of cooling the planet significantly on a timescale of a few years”, as the White House report claims, even to “the preindustrial level” according to “highly idealised modeling studies”.

That report followed on from a 2021 study by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), “Reflecting Sunlight”, which suggested that “the US should cautiously pursue solar geoengineering research to better understand options for responding to climate change risks”. Mark Symes, director of the UK’s research agency ARIA, agrees: “Through carefully-considered engineering solutions it may eventually be possible to actively and responsibly control the climate and weather at regional and global scale.” Earlier this year, more than 100 scientists signed an open letter calling on governments to increase research into solar geoengineering.

Scientists point to large historical volcanic eruptions — which result in massive quantities of sulfur dioxide and dust particles being spewed into the atmosphere — as examples of the effectiveness of “stratospheric aerosol injection”. They’re not wrong: the 1815 Tambora eruption cooled the Earth by 0.7°C and led to a “year without summer”; more recently, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, in 1991, cooled the planet by about half a degree Celsius on average for many months. So, the idea goes, by spraying a certain amount of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, we could replicate the effects of a major eruption and cool the Earth. Problem solved?

Not quite. All the reports acknowledge that there are serious risks associated with solar radiation modification, which could affect human health, biodiversity and geopolitics. That’s because modifying sunlight could alter global weather patterns, disrupt food supplies and in fact lead to abrupt warming if the practice was widely deployed and then halted. But despite such caveats, the very existence of these reports represents a huge opening of the Overton window when it comes to the issue of geoengineering. Indeed: “The fact that this report even exists is probably the most consequential component”, Shuchi Talati of the Alliance for Just Deliberation on Solar Geoengineering crowed after the White House’s report.

In other words, what matters here isn’t so much the content of these reports — which rightly highlight the risks of such interventions, and the need to proceed with caution — but the mere fact that the issue is treated as a topic of legitimate debate, thus slowly getting the public accustomed to the concept. But even more worryingly, perhaps, now that the geoengineering genie is out of the bottle, can we really expect governments and institutions to keep it under control?

After all, we live in an era in which private and corporate power has largely unshackled itself from any forms of meaningful public control, when it hasn’t outright merged with the institutions of the state, subordinating the latter to its own logic. As a result, billionaires, philanthrocapitalists and investment funds arguably exercise a greater influence over society than most governments. And, of course, they love playing God — especially when it offers massive opportunities for profit. So perhaps it is no surprise that much of the pressure for solar engineering also comes from this rarefied community.

In a speech to the Munich Security Conference last year, George Soros endorsed using solar geoengineering to combat climate change. Jeff Bezos has partnered with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the geoengineering non-profit SilverLining, closely tied to Silicon Valley venture capital, to help create models that show what would happen if we blocked out some of the sun’s rays. Facebook billionaire Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Open Philanthropy, is another major funder of SRM projects. And then there is, of course, the ever-lurking Bill Gates: in 2021, he backed a sun-dimming project by the Harvard Solar Geoengineering Research Program called the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), which aimed to spray calcium carbonate into the atmosphere in the skies over Sweden to test its effects on sunlight scattering.

The project, however, was strongly criticised by environmentalists and indigenous groups, with 30 groups of indigenous peoples from around the world calling upon Harvard University to abandon the Gates-backed plans to test its solar geoengineering tech. “We do not approve legitimising development towards solar geoengineering technology, nor for it to be conducted in or above our lands, territories and skies, nor in any ecosystems anywhere,” stated a letter from the Saami Council, which represents Saami people across Scandinavia and in Russia. In the end, the test was called off. But this didn’t stop the ominously named American start-up Make Sunsets, which focuses on stratospheric aerosol injection — “Cooling the planet one reflective cloud at the time”  — from carrying out several tests in the United States.

This means that sun-dimming experiments are already being conducted by private companies, with little or no oversight or regulation. And the edging of this technology into reality is part of a more general phenomenon in climate action: the emergence of a “climate power bloc” encompassing liberal-technocratic politicians, certain climate scientists, environmental NGOs, “green” philanthropists, and Silicon Valley “climate capitalists”. At this intersection of ideology, class and economic interests, extreme and ambitious ideas such as solar engineering find fertile ground. And they are primed to grow further into the popular consciousness — which has already been conditioned to think of climate change as an apocalyptic threat, and to therefore accept “do or die” solutions.

Activists and scientists have started to push back. We’ve already seen the successful prevention of the SCoPEx test. Then, last year, more than 60 senior climate scientists and governance scholars from around the world published an open letter, since supported by more than 450 academics, calling for an “International Non-Use Agreement on Solar Geoengineering”. They emphasise the very serious risks: to human health, but also to the ecosystem itself, with precipitation patterns, vegetation and crop production all disrupted.

The problem, as is often the case, is mission creep — the gradual broadening of the original objectives of a certain programme, often under the influence of technological path dependency. Once a technology comes into existence it tends to be used for the simple fact that it exists, especially if it has been normalised for the public. Hence the call for “research into solar engineering” is, wittingly or not, paving the ground for its future adoption. And its advocates have an existential climate discourse on their side. SRM lobbyists can always claim that the alternative is worse — if that alternative is planetary extinction. As Anote Tong, a former president of Kiribati, a low-lying Pacific island state menaced by rising sea levels, told the New Yorker last year: “It has to be either geoengineering or total destruction”.

In this sense, the debate over solar engineering is symptomatic of how we are interpreting climate change: as a utopian speculation created in response to the dystopia we increasingly see as our future. This logic is designed to spur humanity into action, to find answers to the climate crisis that avoid vicious socioeconomic costs — which is why some sceptics of radical decarbonisation are sympathetic to solar geoengineering. It’s also why climate change activists such as Greta Thunberg oppose it — because it would threaten commitments to decarbonisation. We should oppose this binary logic. We shouldn’t have to choose between radical decarbonisation and geoengineering: fuelled by an impetus towards climate doomerism, they are both dangerous in their own way.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago

Think Covid vaccine

Martin M
MM
Martin M
2 months ago

Will COVID vaccine, released into the upper atmosphere, slow warming? It’s worth a try, I guess.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

They could reduce world population

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

What an absolutely capital idea!
50% would be perfect.

Ardath Blauvelt
AB
Ardath Blauvelt
2 months ago

Do we get to pick the 50%?

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

I hope so.

Jerry K
JK
Jerry K
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

How about enlarging the earth’s orbit? As the earth warms we move further from the sun and vice-versa. Simples – it’s only rocket science. We’d quite a few of Elon’s spare boosters pointing in the right direction – job done. Of course we’d probably need another month name or 35-day months 🙂

Doug Pingel
DP
Doug Pingel
2 months ago
Reply to  Jerry K

The Earth is about to be pulled towards the outer edge of the Godilocks Band by the actions of the Gas Giants so we will get a few more years grace to find a more permanent solution to the problem. Don’t worry about your calender – physics will keep your time reasonably constant. The earth’s orbital speed will change but you won’t notice it as you don’t notice the acceleration/deceleration in the present orbit.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

I think Fazi is being a bit hyperbolic here. The idea is so deranged that even the most hysterical climate alarmist would not seriously consider it.The hubris of these geoengineering supporters is breath taking though – that you will save the world because of your magnificence.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Having seen various ideas that would strike me as ‘deranged’ somehow worm their way into respectability, I fear you’re being optimistic, especially given a decade or two.
Who’d have imagined twenty years ago that mixed-up adolescents would be ‘treated’ by having their genitals or breasts removed?

Jerry K
JK
Jerry K
2 months ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

Monty Python came close… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlo7YZW8vPA

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Why is pumping large amounts of aerosols into the atmosphere any more deranged than pumping billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into it every year?

In other words, why do you assume one will be a disaster but the other to be no problem? If this proposal is being taken seriously (and it’s only research at the moment) then it’s a sign of how desperate the situation is.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Because we have been doing it for more than 150 years and life moves on. We didn’t know better then so in one sense we got lucky. We know better now.

By the way, the situation is not desperate. CO2 is warming the earth, but is far from catastrophic.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

We’re putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in orders of magnitude greater amounts than 150 years ago. It also takes a long time for the new equilibrium to be reached.

Whether it’s catastrophic or not is where it gets tricky. You an opinion on that, nothing more.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Maybe a little perspective is helpful. CO2 has basically went from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million:

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s estimated that the 280 ppm is directly responsible for about 6 C of higher global temp (with the rest of the natural greenhouse effect keeping us about 30 C warmer than we would otherwise be). So another 120 ppm could be several degrees of warming without any consideration of feedback loops.

Anna Bramwell
AB
Anna Bramwell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It saves many thousands of lives, just in the UK, who formerly died of the cold. Oh and it is greening up the planet.

R.I. Loquitur
RL
R.I. Loquitur
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And a warmer earth makes farming more productive which is a handy thing with a growing world population.

laurence scaduto
LS
laurence scaduto
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

CO2 is necessary for photo-synthesis, which is the basis of most life on Earth, plant and animal.
SO2 damages our lungs and acidifies the waters.

Mark C
MC
Mark C
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

The two are not analogous

Simon Blanchard
SB
Simon Blanchard
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The research attracts funding, that’s the whole point of it. Public funding is of course, the holy grail. Any subsequent profits are privatised, naturally.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The article talks about how aerosols will change weather patterns. No doubt that’s correct.

But presumably everyone is aware that rising temperatures will cause more water to evaporate from the oceans. The higher water content in the atmosphere will result in more clouds. Clouds are, of course, aerosols and more of them will change weather patterns…

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Yes, straight CO2 only causes minor increase in temps. It’s the water feedback loop that amplifies the warming from CO2. Yet the science on clouds is very much unsettled. Although it is widely acknowledged that water vapour amplifies warming, clouds are tricky because they both warm and cool the earth. Water vapour amplification is a very complex process at the heart of scientific disputes about the overall rate of temp increases.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree, it’s the feedback loops that make it complex. But in order for the feedback loops to come into play the temperature has to rise. It’s then just a question of how big the feedback loops are and in which direction they push.

Paul T
PT
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Albedo effect?

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

That’s one part of it, yes.

Paul T
PT
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

No it isn’t. It contradicts this silly cloud-seeding notion.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
VZ
Vesselina Zaitzeva
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I don’t think at all that Mr Fazi was hyperbolic.
I remember reading some time ago about Bill Gates’ plans to spray chalk powder in the upper layers of the atmosphere. A breathless report about this was published on the BBC site.
In this case, I think I could trust the BBC…

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I am not sure he’s wrong in general. What’s insane about this debate is that humanity would alter how the planet reacts to humanity’s own externalities when humanity has possessed a means – nuclear power – of not having those externalities at all.

I mean, really? We could build nuclear power stations and solve most of the climate problem, it’d extend the energy horizon from mere decades to thousands of years, and it would even solve most of the geopolitical mess that fossil fuels presently cause, but our collective response is “No, we’ll keep all those problems, we’ll just put a sunshade in the stratosphere”?

We must be idiots.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

Fazi should have noted that the island of Kiribati has actually grown in size over the last 50 years. He has written extensively about climate change and should know 80% of pacific coral islands are growing in size, and not being overwhelmed by rising sea levels. It’s one of the many pernicious myths perpetuated by hysterical climate alarmists.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Sea level rise since 1993 is only 4 inches, so they wouldn’t be expected to be overwhelmed yet, and if there’s some other, currently bigger, effect they may well be increasing in size. Sea level rise is one of the less imminent effects of global warming.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Yet we have been told for years to send money because these islands will be washed away. I’ll never forget when the UN and Moldova held a press conference underwater in scuba gear.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

They will be washed away eventually. Using scuba is just to attract attention – it doesn’t mean they’re lying.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

In the not too distant past, humans were able to trek across what is now the North Sea. Then the climate changed. Do you seriously think there’s anything humans can do to influence such incredible forces, other than make it worse which this proposal to try to block the sun’s rays would undoubtedly do, not least due to the law of unintended consequences?
Man-made climate change, whilst real, is of negligible significance compared to the forces of nature. It’s extreme hubris to think otherwise – but that sums up many in the scientific community.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

So it’s extreme hubris to think we can affect the climate, except when you think that we could by messing up when doing something deliberate.

Apologies, but that post makes no sense.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

And so you should apologise. I wrote “make it worse”, rather than mitigate it. Is that too subtle, perhaps?

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

That makes absolutely no difference to the logic of your argument. To be clear, you imply that there is nothing that ‘humans can do to influence such incredible forces’ and then follow it up by saying ‘except make it worse’.

The two statements are contradictory – either we can influence the climate or we can’t influence the climate.

Carl Valentine
CV
Carl Valentine
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

I think you lot are missing the point!

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Precisely, well said sir.

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Do you honestly believe that very well connected developers who are spending tens of billions of dollars building posh resorts in the Maldives are concerned about rising sea levels?

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Because investors never make mistakes? South Sea bubble, tulipmania, 1929, 2008. There would literally be people buying holidays in those posh resorts as the waves were rolling across the floor.

Maybe it’s borrowed money and they’ll walk away with profits in the meantime? Who knows. Either way, it says nothing about climate change.

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

“Because investors never make mistakes?”
What makes it interesting though is a lot of the elite are buying into such posh seaside resorts and luxury dwellings.
While simultaneously travelling around by private jets to warn us about global warming and rising sea levels.
That does say something about climate change, and the assorted activists.

Andrew Stoll
AS
Andrew Stoll
2 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Resorts on extendable stilts, they are.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

That’s the problem with hysterical climate change alarmists – no accountability for failed predictions. We were never told the islands would grow then shrink. It’s all waved away. Same thing happens with agricultural production. It keeps rising year after year after year, contrary to climate predictions. Instead of an honest evaluation, we’re told just wait, the collapse is coming – some day.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Aren’t you mixing up the MALDIVES with Moldova?

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

lol. Very much so

Carl Valentine
CV
Carl Valentine
2 months ago

He is from North America, their geography is poor.

Fran Martinez
FM
Fran Martinez
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Maldives, probably

Chris Van Schoor
CV
Chris Van Schoor
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Four inches of sea rise?? Impossible. Outlandish claim. (I hate it when people say this), but proof please?

laurence scaduto
LS
laurence scaduto
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

That’s not what I’ve been hearing. Everywhere I go there’s someone predicting doom just around the corner. I remember graphics of lower Manhattan completely inundated by 2012; and then 2016, then 2020. And the Parliament half sunk in the Thames.
I never heard anything about it being “one of the less imminent effects”.
The real story: Sea levels have been rising since the end of the last Ice Age. As the level rises, more coral grows. Wave action breaks up the coral and much of the resulting sand gets washed into the lagoon and up onto the island(s). I imagine that occasional huge storm waves pick up the beach sand and push it inland. I’ve seen this effect myself after hurricanes here in the New York area.
And please don’t start telling me about imaginary “tipping points”.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago

I don’t know what you’ve seen, so I can’t speak to that, but my recall is different – significant sea level rise was way in the future when the Greenland ice cap has melted.

In general terms I used to think climate change wouldn’t start to be noticeable until the 2040s or so. Seems to be happening faster that that though.

If your comment about coral is related to the Maldives you may be right – I always thought it was an astonishing coincidence that the maldives are undersea mountains thousands of feet high, that just happen to be almost exactly as high as sea level. But eventually the sea level rise will likely overcome that process.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Although you may feel this way, that’s not how the issue is framed in the regime media. We are constantly being told the danger is imminent and existential. There is never any nuanced discussion. The sheer volume of failed predictions should be a red flag for anyone.

Even climate scientists themselves feel pressured to overhype the hysteria and downplay the nuance.

https://www.thefp.com/p/i-overhyped-climate-change-to-get-published

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The media is the media. It’s been getting increasingly dumbed down and hyperbolic for decades.

Robbie K
RK
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Far from being ‘pernicious myths’ the only reason Pacific islands have not been overwhelmedby rising sea levels is down to climate adaption programs funded by international grants.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Say what? This is news to me. Think about it. 80% of coral islands have grown larger. The vast majority of these islands are uninhabited. So you’re saying they have launched adaptation programs on uninhabited islands. Even if is true, which it isn’t, maybe we should be focussing on more adaptation programs. The prevailing hypothesis is that wave action is washing up more sediment from nearby coral reefs. No one knows for sure though – because climate is a very complex field of study.

Robbie K
RK
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Maybe you should educate yourself on the subject rather than repeating climate sceptic dogma?

Robbie K
RK
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Cracks me up sceptics downvoting what is merely an observation.
You can read about the Kiribati (one of many going on) program here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiribati_Adaptation_Program

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

This still doesn’t explain why the uninhabited areas are growing as well. Looking at the link, it appears they have planted some mangroves – meh.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
VZ
Vesselina Zaitzeva
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Oh please! Do you think that citing Wikipedia makes your statements credible?

Paul T
PT
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I am still waiting for your response on why the 400 feet of sea level rise since the last glacial maximum was natural but the next 3 feet is undoubtedly because of humans – when it is exactly on trend.

Leejon 0
L
Leejon 0
2 months ago

Humans are stupid!

Chris Keating
CK
Chris Keating
2 months ago
Reply to  Leejon 0

Yes, but they don’t know they are stupid, quite the reverse in fact.

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Leejon 0

Assuming you are yourself human, that means you’re stupid.

Leejon 0
L
Leejon 0
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Yes I know

Dylan Blackhurst
DB
Dylan Blackhurst
2 months ago

I thought the ‘chem trails’ lunatics were bonkers. After reading this I’m beginning to think they might be onto something.
I just wish there was a more open debate about climate change. To even question the ‘science’ is to be branded a denier.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago

It is a long, long time since I’ve seen a simple explanation of global warming or the greenhouse effect in the media. I suspect most people have forgotten the basics and therefore aren’t really in a position to pose insightful questions.

Chris Van Schoor
CV
Chris Van Schoor
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

It’s not an “explanation”: it’s a theory. A pretty poor excuse for one at that. The scientific method has been unable to prove or disprove this theory (and never will of course, because repeatable experiments are out of the question).

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago

The greenhouse effect is 19th century science, and the basic principles of the background science are taught in school.

The sun heats the Earth. The Earth radiates heat out into space. Some of that radiated heat is ‘captured’ by greenhouse gases. At any given concentration of greenhouse gases the Earth will be at an equilibrium temperature where the heat going out into space equals that coming in from the sun. Change the concentration of greenhouse gases and you change that equilibrium temperature.

There’s a whole load of complications to that very simple process, but that’s the basics.

If you want a demonstration have a look at the average temperatures of the rocky planets in the solar system – one of them is very different to the others, which is due to a (very extreme) greenhouse effect.

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

“Change the concentration of greenhouse gases and you change that equilibrium temperature.”
Which doesn’t explain why the Earth warned up so much in the few centuries between the little ice age and 1900, despite negligible increase in greenhouse gases.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

So what? As I said, it was a basic outline of how the greenhouse effect operates. It clearly wasn’t meant to address every other possible cause of climate variation.

So no, it doesn’t explain the little ice age and the fact that it doesn’t explain it doesn’t mean that the greenhouse effect isn’t real.

Mark C
MC
Mark C
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

That isn’t actually correct. The term greenhouse effect itself is inaccurate. A greenhouse warms not by blocking outgoing electromagnetic radiation (“EMR”), but by blocking convection and conductance with the outside air. Heat moves in three ways – radiation, convection and connection. The “greenhouse gases” impede the departure of radiation from our atmosphere, they don’t capture it.

The next issue is using the term equilibrium. Incoming and outgoing radiation are never equal – whether in one location or averaged globally. The planet is always in some state of cooling or warming whether regionally, or on a global average.

The planet is a spheroid, not a plane with EMR coming in perpendicular to the plane. The latter being the only way you would have an equilibrium (assuming no absorption) with all incoming radiation 100% returning back to space in a balanced way. Instead, the earth is spheroid covered in peaks and valleys in the oceans and on land. The sun warms half the planet at any given time, the other side is cooling, thereby creating energy imbalances that generate our weather. Furthermore, the sun warms areas most perpendicular to the suns rays during the day with substantially more radiation than locations less perpendicular. Areas like the tropics are inundated with far more energy than areas dramatically north or south. And, the tropics tend to absorb more radiation than they emit back out (a net gain of energy not equilibrium) … so they warm substantially more than other places. While, the poles can reflect and emit more energy out to space than came in (net energy loss) causing them to cool. But equilibrium? The planet is never in equilibrium.

Next, the electromagnetic radiation reflected by, or being emitted by the earth is not “captured.” It is impeded in its departure. And, if I am to believe results from the science of EMR spectroscopy, then added CO2 has little to no ability to continually warm the planet. CO2’s impact on impeding heat leaving the atmosphere (and thereby warming the planet) is a logarithmic function not a linear or exponential function. In other words, CO2’s potential to warm plateaus … and is bounded. It follows a law of diminishing returns.

Imagine CO2 is a sponge, and the sun’s energy is water. There is a finite amount of water. The sun doesn’t blast infinite amounts of energy all day, it is finite. The energy the earth reflects or emits is also finite. Once the amount of water (energy) is absorbed, there is nothing left to make the sponge wetter. No matter how many more sponges (Co2 molecules) you add …. you can’t absorb more water (energy) because the water/energy is finite. It’s already been absorbed. The term given for when a certain bandwidth of EMR has been completely absorbed is saturation. And, the wavelengths that Co2 can absorb are near fully saturated and have limited ability to warm the planet. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2006.03098.pdf

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark C

I did say it was a simplified explanation. I even put ‘captured’ in quote marks to imply it was a simplification – though i wouldn’t say the word impeded was any better. If you want be precise you need to say the IR radiation is absorbed by the asymmetric vibration of the C=O double bonds which is subsequently released in all directions rather than only out into space.

Yes, a greenhouse is a bad analogy but that’s the name it’s been given. I actually found it confusing when first taught it for the very reason you describe. However you are incorrect to say a greenhouse functions only by blocking convection and conduction, as normal glass does block infrared which I guess is why the effect was given that name. Are you expecting me to come up with a different analogy rather than use the accepted name?

Your issue with equilibrium is not correct – the system as a whole can be in equilibrium, or very nearly so, even if there are large local variations. Equilibrium does not imply static. If the system as a whole was not at equilibrium there would be an overall energy imbalance and the temperature of the system (ie the Earth in this case) as a whole would rise or fall!

I’m aware that the absorbtion of IR by CO2 is not linear, and whilst not entirely necessary for the simplified model i presented, given the importance of that point I probably should’ve included it.

Jeremy Bray
JB
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago

Y

Walter Marvell
WM
Walter Marvell
2 months ago

Good article. For me, there remain two related fundamental questions. How can ‘Science’ regain a commitment to objective truth in this field? If not them who can bring reason to this complex issue? The lockdown horror has shown that Scientists are now fully committed dodgy political operators. They lied, catastrophized and still are covering up their shameful complicity (gain function offshore research in China labs) in the Wuhan leak. They are like the shoddy Church of England grasping failed asylum seekers for conversion; just another debased part of the State machine. Our scarily dim and dangerous herd of political classes cling to the climate change eco cult to deliver some sense of purpose. They and the propagandist hysterical BBC have now totally polluted the national debate. So only proper fearless scientists can grab the wheel of a car speeding into a tree. But I do not see these brave true thinkers. I fear they too are cowered by groupthink. So on we march.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Scientists are not some monolithic group of identical people. If a few individuals have been complicit in bad decisions / cover ups that makes them no different to any other group.

If you’re not seeing any fearless true thinking scientists out of the hundreds of thousands (?) of scientists (generally fairly intelligent, thinking types) that there must be out there, what do you think that might mean?

Walter Marvell
WM
Walter Marvell
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

There are a few brave scientists who attempt to confront the climate emergency groupthink. They are heckled and drowned out by the vast global herd and treated like heretics. There is no rigorous scientific debate on the climate. And I suggest you track the lockdown debacle more closely. Our public health and scientific community did behave like a soviet monolith, all happy to operate and prosper as the State’s Ministry of Propaganda, all venting hysterically and abusively about ‘eugenics’ to the few expert dissenters. Some ‘debate’. Read up too on how Western Science has protected China and covered up the origins of the Covid pandemic. And you have faith in this lot?

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

How can you seriously suggest there’s no ‘rigorous scientific debate’ on the climate? It started decades ago and there have been thousands of peer reviewed paper published, hundreds of conferences.

I’ve watched a few youtube videos of ‘dissenting scientists’ and they all pull some sleight of hand to fool people, or whataboutery, a bit like this article.

As for lockdowns the scientists provided data (which was necessarily based on limited information or modelled and produced rapidly) for politicians to act on. I have issues with lockdown myself, but I can understand how the decisions were made, and they were made by politicians.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

It looks like a whole group of respected senior scientist lied through their teeth and conspired to hide the origins of the Covid virus and I did no see much dissent

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Since you raise the term as though it means something profound, what do you think “peer review” is? What it is NOT is a stamp of agreement on the research that was reviewed. It’s little more than deciding that the research methodology was viable and that the maths are correct. That’s it. There is nothing about the term which says or even implies that the reviewers agree with the conclusions drawn.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Yes I’m aware of what peer review. It is not merely checking the maths etc – it also checks that the conclusions follow from the data presented. It doesn’t mean the reviewer agrees as such, but they won’t, os shouldn’t, accept something that doesn’t flow.

Reviewers frequently do request changes, or reject outright.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

At least Lord Jonathan Sumption “stood up and was counted”.
We also should never forget what WSC said on the subject:- “Scientists should be on tap NOT on top”.

Alex Carnegie
AC
Alex Carnegie
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Very well put. An attempted solution is in my much less pithy comment below. I think the key is that there is a lot of good science being done quietly but “The Science” is something else – and constructed by a few scientific bureaucrats / politicians. What we need is a way to inform the public of the alternatives scientists are thinking about and debating instead of the repressing all views except the dubious orthodoxies of “The Science”.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

That’s exactly it – creating alternative sources of information to enable a wider perspective and better informed public debate.

It should be the bedrock of any democracy to do so, and any organisation trying to limit debate should immediately arouse suspicion.

Comments on Unherd often include slurs against such open debate, using terms such as ‘bigots’ and ‘sheeples’ (you know who you are) but essentially, they’ve already failed by changing the debate from an exchange of ideas to insults.

Walter Marvell
WM
Walter Marvell
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Very shrewd comment. This neatly turns the arc light onto our MSM and especially the BBC which has a charter obligation to provide a full range of objective analysis. Its surrender to hysteria is shameful (as well as self serving as it profits hugely from the genre of eco panic programming). Those scientists seeking to break or challenge the consensus of ‘The Science’ are simply suffocated and rubbed out, their work never entering the bloodstream of public debate. The BBC’s craven capitulation to climate catastrophism is – like its lockdown propaganda – the very greatest stain on its reputation. It has such far reaching consequences.

Chipoko
C
Chipoko
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Whatever happened to that Australian fellow (I think from Perth) – an electrician (??) who recalculated the complex formulae upon which the edifice of climate change had been constructed and found them to be significantly flawed and overstated. This was some 6-10 years ago and was quite widely, but briefly reported in reputable publications at the time (e.g. UK Daily Telegraph, etc.). However, the story very quickly went quiet and I’ve found it impossible to find any Google references to this today, leaving me suspicious that it has been buried by Big Tech which is invested in the orthodox climate change worldview.

Doug Pingel
DP
Doug Pingel
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Cowered” Also by the threat of dufunding?

Chipoko
C
Chipoko
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

I have to say, Walter, that you admirably articulate my views and perspectives in so many ways – and more eloquently than I!
I believe that the climate catastrophisationhas been developed by the political/Woking Class as a significant tool of control, increased taxation and excuse for the Marxist-inspired notion of transferring wealth from the rich to the poor nations of the world. While there’s no doubt that significant climate change, hot or cold, can have terrible impacts on human existence, there are just too many people and organisations who have made successful long-term careers out of environmentalism who have deeply vested interests, not least financial, in consolidating their worldview. There is too much bending of science and fact, which suggests that we are being sold fabrication, distortion or dissimulation rather than receiving fundamental truth.

Jean Pierre Noel
JN
Jean Pierre Noel
2 months ago

Why are the views of “indigenous people” important?

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago

I expect the author of the article thought it was important to mention them though, to help get the effect he desired.

Mint Julip
MJ
Mint Julip
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Everyone’s opinion matters when big tech’s oligarchs are up for meddling with the planet. I don’t want Gates, Bezos, or the UN for that matter, “experimenting” with our weather systems, I’d rather take my chances with the planet’s own capability to look out for itself!
PS, anyone desperate for acid rain (again)?

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Mint Julip

You missed my undertone.

Anna Bramwell
AB
Anna Bramwell
2 months ago

Well, agricultural communities are more likely to suffer if they cant grow food due to the dimming of the sun.

Chris Van Schoor
CV
Chris Van Schoor
2 months ago

The Neanderthals resent that question!

Vesselina Zaitzeva
VZ
Vesselina Zaitzeva
2 months ago

Because, as seen from the article, these would be the people directly affected by the trial of solar geoengineering over the territory of Sweden.
And because when ideas are considered/deciscions are made, it is important to take into account how these ideas/decisions will impact those directly affected.
Doesn’t happen often, unfortunately.

Martin Bollis
MB
Martin Bollis
2 months ago

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. That is provable. Everything after that is modelling – fortune telling with spreadsheets, entirely at the whim of the adepts who throw the bones.

Human activity will do for us in the end. The climate change religion will either send us back to the stone edge by starting a nuclear war over, say, lithium or destroy us by some hubristic ‘solution’ like this.

Chris Van Schoor
CV
Chris Van Schoor
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Co2 functioning as a greenhouse gas can only be “proven” in a laboratory environment: not at a global scale.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago

The laws of physics are the same in a lab as in the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide gas will absorb the same frequency of infra red radiation (ie act as a greenhouse gas) in the lab, in the atmosphere, in a cave, in space etc etc.

Kent Ausburn
KA
Kent Ausburn
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Yes, but in the lab they are conducting experiments in a closed, controlled system, not the open totally uncontrolled system that is our atmosphere.

Paul T
PT
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

CO2 has gone from about 320 ppm to 450 ppm since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Thats “millionths”. Its climate homeopathy.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

It’s slightly lower to start with – 280 ppm. It might be less than 0.1% but without it the Earth would be about 6 C cooler than it is

Kent Ausburn
KA
Kent Ausburn
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

I call BS on your 6 C cooler claim. Where does that come from?

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Kent Ausburn

Why do you question it? What do you think it is? It’s really not that big a number – the Earth’s temperature has fluctuated by more than that in the distant past.

It’s based on the current ave temp of the Earth at 15 C minus the calculated temp of the Earth without any greenhouse gases, which is -20 C. So 35 C temp difference, of which carbon dioxide directly (ie ignoring any feedback systems) contributes about 20%. Which actually comes to 7 C, not 6 C, but it is just an estimate.

“it was found by Schmidt et al (2010) that CO2 contributes to about 20% of the modern greenhouse effect”
from https://skepticalscience.com/What-would-a-CO2-free-atmosphere-look-like.html

“Greenhouse gases’ are crucial to keeping our planet at a suitable temperature for life. Without the natural greenhouse effect, the heat emitted by the Earth would simply pass outwards from the Earth’s surface into space and the Earth would have an average temperature of about -20°C.”
from https://www.bgs.ac.uk/discovering-geology/climate-change/how-does-the-greenhouse-effect-work/

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

The science on the basics of CO2 is pretty solid. Without it, we freeze and starve, even though it’s a trace gas. Right now, with all the manmade CO2, we are on the low end of the scale at 450ppm. At something like 200ppm, plants cease to grow and mankind truly starves. In the geological past, I think it’s been as high as 4,000 ppm. This, of course, makes me skeptical of the hysterical climate change models, not the science l

Paul T
PT
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It was 6,000 ppm at the end of the dinosaurs. But oxygen was around 40% at the time too. They never include geological evidence because it contradicts the laughably short timescales of ice-cores.

Paul T
PT
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

And the magnetosphere…?

Doug Pingel
DP
Doug Pingel
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Without CO2 there would be no plants – no omnivours – no carnivours. No us.

Saul D
SD
Saul D
2 months ago

Air pollution needed to combat global warming.
The logic in reverse would then imply that clean air and anti-smog legislation is a global warming contributor. I can just see it – environmentalists head to the streets: “What do we want? More pollution. When do we want it? Now.” Bizarre.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

It is slightly ironic that measures to clean up some forms of air pollution will contribute to increased global warming.

Harry Child
HC
Harry Child
2 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

The more I read about the antics of some of these so called science experts the more Clem Atlees remark” There are a lot of clever people about who have no judgement” seems to be accurate.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

Attlee’s best remark must be “Never say one word when NONE will do”.

Anna Bramwell
AB
Anna Bramwell
2 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

Well, SO2 levels did decline precipitously during the ‘80s, – see UNEP Grid for figures. Perhaps that produced the slight warming of the 1990s.

Jerry K
JK
Jerry K
2 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Have we forgotten that SO2 and rain combine to make sulphurous and sulphuric acid. We used to call it acid rain. Also SO2 products produced by burning sulphur content are the main reason we love to hate coal…

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jerry K

I think it has largely been forgotten, certainly in terms of the closure of UK coal mines in the 80s.

Robbie K
RK
Robbie K
2 months ago

The issue needs technical solutions, because political ones are taking way too long and getting nowhere.
This concept however is utterly delusional. It doesn’t solve the fundemental problems of carbon pollution and carries huge risks of going horribly wrong – one can easily imagine a country with failing crops caused accidentally suing those instigating the project.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

We have the answer – nuclear power. But no one is serious about it.

Robbie K
RK
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Nuclear is definitely part of the solution.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Either way it will be the deciding factor.

Alex Carnegie
AC
Alex Carnegie
2 months ago

This supposedly frightening essay raises two different issues: 

1/ The pros and cons of geo-engineering

2/ The way public debate on scientific issues is conducted.

If we could solve the problems with latter, I would be content for the first to be debated rationally on its merits. I may think tentatively that it would be a prudent idea to develop geo-engineering as a reserve capability in case global warming suddenly and unexpectedly accelerates but I would be a lot happier if this proposition could be debated openly and robustly. It would expose the true worth of poorly argued pieces like this, the simplistic self interested arguments of those who make a living from climate alarmism and the manipulations of commercial entities – and uncover the real level of scientific confidence and uncertainty on the various issues and policy options.

Instead, at present, we live in a world where players seek to establish some convenient line as scientific orthodoxy and then repress all dissent with a mix of online ridicule, threats of dismissal or, at a minimum, loss of promotion prospects and research grants. Outright heretics are cast into the outer darkness, false prophets are celebrated and clever but prudent scientists are forced to write so discreetly that few pick up their real meaning.

I was reading recently a paper on climate feedback loops and felt it was like reading something written in the USSR or East Germany in the 1960s. It opened with a declaration of loyalty to the prevailing climate orthodoxy and ended with statement that the research conducted reinforced the case for the action demanded by the IPCC. In between was an understated and dispassionate survey of all the mechanisms that could upend the IPCC projections in either direction – but with the implications carefully not spelt out. Even so one suspects the author was distinctly nervous. We know what happened to Soviet science: Lysenko and an inability to develop IT. We should aim to do better.

One can see why well meaning policy makers – let alone entrepreneurial and self serving NGO campaigners and businesses – have been seduced by the case for imposing a single view by pretending there is unanimity amongst scientists. Trying to rally public support for what is considered sensible action in the age of online cacophony – when the public is unable to distinguish between charlatans and serious scientists presenting well reasoned alternative views – is difficult. But their solution is as bad in the long run as the immediate challenges they face. One understands why governments sought to impose a single line during the Covid crisis but the negative side effects are steadily becoming clearer. The case of the Great Barrington declaration is a good example.

Is there a way through this thicket? One idea would be to publish annually the “scientific consensus” on key issues but not as produced by a politicised and highly manipulated IPCC style process but by a new methodology which presented the real levels of scientific support for various views. The key would be that it was conducted by secret ballot not open declaration. One can sense that on, for example, Covid and climate the idea that “the science is settled” is BS but scientists are too intimidated to speak up. If we could find a mechanism to reveal the real distribution of scientific opinion in all its diversity we would be a lot better off. Maybe the Royal Society could undertake the task. It would not solve all problems but it would be a good first step towards restored open good faith scientific debate with all the benefits that would flow from that.

Robbie K
RK
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

A good post and some good ideas, although a bit depressing that you feel there is significant scope to question the fundamental theory or ‘science’. The subject of climate change is the most studied in the history of humanity, yet the only reason it is still questioned in a sceptical manner is down to the very effective campaigns funded by the petro chemical industry and fringe scientists/authors peddlings well reasoned material that appeals to people’s biases and uncertainties.
The real tragedy of that is the failure to make progress on mitigation whilst a farcical debate continues for decades.

Anna Bramwell
AB
Anna Bramwell
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Oh that petro chemical lobby. Any serious history of climate and geology is explained away as lies financed by big oil. See G Monbiot’s attack on that Australian emeritus professor. A good thing Lyall and Darwin were bravely heretical for their time (. Darwin slow and cowardly, actually , but eventually he dared). If the AGW theory was serious, they would be able to reverse engineer it to account for anomalies such as the Medieval and Roman wam periods, the Little Ice Age, the cold decades starting in 1940, the warm decade of the 1930s, that at a time of reduced industrial emissions. Oh and dont mention the Ice Age or its little friend the Younger Dryas Event. One good thing about carbon capture is that when the next Ice Age starts, we will know where the carbon is.

Robbie K
RK
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

You are confusing historical weather patterns with the greenhouse effect caused by carbon emmissions.
This is really basic stuff.
It never surprises me however that people have not grasped the fundamentals of the concept and allow their deeply engrained biases to block self education.

Paul T
PT
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Except you natch.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Ask Robbie to list examples of big oil’s lavish marketing campaigns or funding of skeptical science and you get crickets. I’ve been through this with him before. Alarmists get way way way more support than skeptics.

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The subject of climate change is the most studied in the history of humanity, yet the only reason it is still questioned in a sceptical manner is down to the very effective campaigns funded by the petro chemical industry and fringe scientists/authors peddlings well reasoned material that appeals to people’s biases and uncertainties.
One might have thought the skepticism has a bit to do with the apocalyptic predictions that failed to happen. And how interesting that the govt-funded science, which has a desired conclusion just as much as the petro industry does, is free of biases, confirmation or otherwise.
You can’t warn of Armageddon with nothing of the sort happening. Your high priests cannot live in a way that is completely counter to how they demand the rest of us live. And you can’t take as gospel research that is funded by specific interests.

Andrew Dalton
AD
Andrew Dalton
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

No one cares about failed predictions in this supposedly most studied field ever.
At least the claim of Quantum Electrodynamics being the most successful scientific theory ever can back it up with the extremely successful electronics industry.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I’m not sure where people were reading apocalyptic predictions that should have come true by now, because that’s not how i remember it.

“Climate models published since 1973 have generally been quite skillful in projecting future warming. While some were too low and some too high, they all show outcomes reasonably close to what has actually occurred, especially when discrepancies between predicted and actual CO2 concentrations and other climate forcings are taken into account.”

From https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-how-well-have-climate-models-projected-global-warming/

Fran Martinez
FM
Fran Martinez
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The most studied in the history of humanity, really? Could you please share which ones were those (scientific) papers that completely convinced you that co2 is to be blame for the increase in temperature in the last 300 hundred years?

Paul T
PT
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

The IPCC specifically excludes, or where it cant do so it explains away, changes in solar activity and solar cycles. The giant, main sequence, billions of years old, with huge numbers of overlapping cycles, ball of fusion in the sky is excluded from the figures!

Mark C
MC
Mark C
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The statement “climate change is the most studied in the history of humanity” is simply hyperbole. There is no truth to it. Perhaps, it’s a rhetorical device to end all debate by trying to appeal to some higher authority, when your statement has not been thought through. Though, I’m thinking you sincerely believe what you said.
Climate science as a degree, a course of study, didn’t even exist until fairly recently. Prior to that, all modeling was for the purposes of predicting weather, not climate. And, even that was a fairly new development. It should be noted that our current climate models are simply modified weather prediction models from the 1940s and 50s. They are not the scientific method. So, please stop with the “you believe in science” rhetoric. What you base your beliefs on are models to simulate past correlations that are then assumed to be able to run into the future … without the understanding that some correlations are coincidence, and some correlations with underlying causation change over time.
The scientific method is a process, it is not a modeling exercise. It starts with 1) having an observation and questioning what might be the source of causes of the observation, 2) choosing which path (which of the causes and observations) to test and analyze, 3) creating a falsifiable hypothesis and predictions based on the hypothesis 4) creating experimental design running the experiments, 5) collecting and analyzing data, 6) reporting whether data supports or negates the hypothesis.
Again, what you believe to be climate science is simply climate modeling, and that has only been done since the 1970s using weather prediction models developed in the first half of the 20th century. Those weather models were simply mathematical correlations from historical data, not the underlying physics, chemistry, biological or electromagnetic processes underlying and governing the earth’s systems. Those weather models have been shown mathematically to be functionally worthless beyond two weeks. https://atmos.ucla.edu/students/undergraduate/climate-science-major/
By any measure of chronology, climate is not the “most studied in the history of humanity.” Physics, medicine, chemistry all greatly surpass the study of climate and climate change. Literally, the study of the latter have been around for centuries. Frankly, there hasn’t even been a unified definition of what climate is (as compared to weather) until the 20th Century. And again, most of that has been based on mathematical modeling of correlations, not algorithms based on the proven fundamental interactions between chemical and electromagnetic radiation, and the physical process of mechanics of solids, fluid dynamics, conduction, convection, and numerous other physical processes.
For example, the processes modulating the single most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere are poorly understood … even though clouds cover two thirds of the world’s surface at any given time. So little time and effort has been expended understanding their processes that to this day the physics of clouds is poorly understood. (see the CERN cloud experiment ) There is no way to model cloud nucleation as we are just beginning to understand those processes. Without an understanding of cloud nucleation, the processes that create clouds, and modulation of states of water vapor, there can be no scientifically based way to understand the preindustrial era climate … no way to model the climate with the underlying physics … meaning that once again all you are left with are mathematical models running correlations, correlations that may or may not persist overtime as causation between the variables is not understood and even causation events can generate changing correlations overtime.
You do realize turbulence is one of the least understood topics in physics to this very day, yes?https://seas.harvard.edu/news/2020/02/unraveling-turbulence Climate and weather depend on turbulent processes. Water vapor, clouds (and therefore climate) are highly dependent on understanding the interaction of two turbulent fluids interacting with one another in a chaotic manner. Those interactions are also not built into climate models, and rightfully so … because no one knows how to model them with high accuracy. Yet they are pivotal to our planet’s climates. Again, current models are built on what people perceive as past correlations, not the underlying physical processes.
Initial observations of the interaction of gases and electromagnetic radiation (which is real science) was first done in the 1800’s. This wasn’t climate science, it was chemistry, it was the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with various gases. So, that was good science. The electromagnetic radiation absorption bands of various gases were first documented, probed, and approximated. Again, that was chemistry, that was electro magnetism … not climate science, not environmnetalism. You couldn’t even get a degree in environmental sciences until the 1960’s.
And, those observations as to the absorption bandwidths of the various gases that can be heated? Yeah, that science isn’t built into models either. Again, the models are based on simple correlations, not the underlying causations.
Then, you also say, “it (climate change) is still questioned in a skeptical manner …,” as if that is bad. When skepticism is at the very heart of science, and the scientific method. You are supposed to question every presupposition. That is what science is … if you aren’t skeptical of your work and others’ work, then you aren’t doing your job.
“At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes–an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.” Carl Sagan

Mark C
MC
Mark C
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The statement “climate change is the most studied in the history of humanity” is simply hyperbole. There is no truth to it. Perhaps, it’s a rhetorical device to end all debate by trying to appeal to some higher authority, when your statement has not been thought through. Though, I believe you sincerely believe what you said.

Climate science as a degree, a course of study, didn’t even exist until fairly recently. Prior to that, all modeling was for the purposes of predicting weather, not climate. And, even that was a fairly new development. It should be noted that our current climate models are simply modified weather prediction models from the 1940s and 50s. They are not the scientific method. What people base their beliefs on are models to simulate past correlations that are then assumed to be able to run into the future … without the understanding that some correlations are coincidence, and some correlations with underlying causation change over time. 

The scientific method is a process, it is not a modeling exercise. It starts with 1) having an observation and questioning what might be the source of causes of the observation, 2) choosing which path (which of the causes and observations) to test and analyze, 3) creating a falsifiable hypothesis and predictions based on the hypothesis 4) creating experimental design running the experiments, 5) collecting and analyzing data, 6) reporting whether data supports or negates the hypothesis.
 
Again, what you may believe to be climate science is simply climate modeling, and that has only been done since the 1970s using weather prediction models developed in the first half of the 20th century. Those weather models were simply mathematical correlations from historical data, not the underlying physics, chemistry, biological or electromagnetic processes underlying and governing the earth’s systems. Those weather models have been shown mathematically to be functionally worthless beyond two weeks. https://atmos.ucla.edu/students/undergraduate/climate-science-major/ 
 
By any measure of chronology, climate is not the “most studied in the history of humanity.” Physics, medicine, chemistry all greatly surpass the study of climate and climate change. Literally, the study of the latter have been around for centuries. Frankly, there hasn’t even been a unified definition of what climate is (as compared to weather) until the 20th Century. And again, most of that has been based on mathematical modeling of correlations, not algorithms based on the proven fundamental interactions between chemical and electromagnetic radiation, and the physical process of mechanics of solids, fluid dynamics, conduction, convection, and numerous other physical processes.  

For example, the processes modulating the single most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere are poorly understood … even though clouds cover two thirds of the world’s surface at any given time. So little time and effort has been expended understanding their processes that to this day the physics of clouds is poorly understood. (see the CERN cloud experiment ) There is no way to model cloud nucleation as we are just beginning to understand those processes. Without an understanding of cloud nucleation, the processes that create clouds, and modulation of states of water vapor, there can be no scientifically based way to understand the preindustrial era climate … and no way to model the current climate with the underlying physics … meaning that once again all you are left with are  mathematical models running correlations, correlations that may or may not persist overtime as causation between the variables is not understood and even causation events can generate changing correlations overtime. 

You do realize turbulence is one of the least understood topics in physics to this very day, yes?https://seas.harvard.edu/news/2020/02/unraveling-turbulence Climate and weather depend on turbulent processes. Water vapor, clouds (and therefore climate) are highly dependent on understanding the interaction of two turbulent fluids interacting with one another in a chaotic manner. Those interactions are also not built into climate models, and rightfully so … because no one knows how to model them with high accuracy. Yet they are pivotal to our planet’s climates. Again, current models are built on what people perceive as past correlations, not the underlying physical processes.

Initial observations of the interaction of gases and electromagnetic radiation (which is real science) was first done in the 1800’s. This wasn’t climate science, it was chemistry, it was the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with various gases. So, that was good science. The electromagnetic radiation absorption bands of various gases were first documented, probed, and approximated. Again, that was chemistry, that was electro magnetism … not climate science, not environmnetalism. You couldn’t even get a degree in environmental sciences until the 1960’s.

And, those observations as to the absorption bandwidths of the various gases that can be heated? Yeah, that science isn’t built into models either. Again, the models are based on simple correlations, not the underlying causations.  

Then, you say, “it (climate change) is still questioned in a skeptical manner …,” as if that is bad. When skepticism is at the very heart of science, and the scientific method. You are supposed to question every presupposition. That is what science is … if you aren’t skeptical of your work and others’ work, then you aren’t doing your job.  
From Carl Sagan:
“At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes–an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.”

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Delusional bollocks. Every single word.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Good to see you are still ‘ticking’.

Alex Carnegie
AC
Alex Carnegie
2 months ago

Thanks. 30 mins on UH gets my mind working every morning. Intellectual equivalent of bran flakes. Works for me me even if my comments interest few others.

Incidentally, if you are interested, the current “settled science” central forecast is for global temp to rise to about 2.5 C above pre-industrial levels (i.e. about another 1 C) by 2050 before flattening off for the following fifty years (assuming the decarbonisation happens at a slow but determined rate). The effects of this would not be catastrophic. Lots of polar bears, plentiful harvests, etc. No reason to get worked up.

As far as I can make out, however, this outlook is unlikely since we will probably get hit by various feedback loops of which the two most important short term are methane which may add 3 C and the Gulf Stream which will subtract a similar amount.

The answer depends therefore on which hits first. If the Gulf Stream kicks in first we will get see an abrupt reversal to very cold winters and the scientists will go back to forecasting an Ice Age for a while – as they did in the 1970s.

If, however, it is methane first then we will probably see a sharp upward spike in temperatures and it is going to get very uncomfortable for a while until the Gulf Stream effect turns up i.e. we are in for a roller coaster ride.

I think tentatively that the latter scenario is more likely. It may even have started. The bulk of UH readers seem to think the whole thing is a hoax. My fear is that the IPCC is currently not only being too politicised but too moderate in its central forecasts! Odd combination. We will see … or rather we will be dead but the next generation will.

Citizen Diversity
CD
Citizen Diversity
2 months ago

How strange that in every department of society there is to be constant change, yet the one sort of change that is feared is climate change.
Ancient societies worshipped the sun. Like a god, it has the power to engender life or destroy it. Akhenaten had himself depicted showing the rays of the sun as hands gently touching him. Now we are to shut it out by pulling a chemical blanket over our heads.

Anna Bramwell
AB
Anna Bramwell
2 months ago

After all, the year without summer was a catastrophe, used normally as an example of the dangers of major volcaniceruptions. Famine and plague ensued

Mark 0
M
Mark 0
2 months ago

I blame entirely partisan extremists like Greta Thunburg and the activists who have coalesced around her. Ironic that a girl who couldn’t be bothered to finish school tells the world to ‘listen to the science ‘. The science does say that climate change is a big problem, but it doesn’t say we are all going to die within the next 10 years.

The IPCC reports have pretty measured predictions in, with ‘do nothing’, middle ground’ and ‘all out reversal of carbon release ‘ scenarios. We certainly aren’t in the ‘do nothing’ scenario, as every country is doing something…so the predictions are that the worst possible outcomes in IPCC literature won’t happen. Those worst case predictions do not…as expected…include everyone dying in 10 years! They are bad in terms of particular branches of science (biology, biodiversity, sea rise etc) but take place over a century or so, giving us time to adjust and invent mitigations

So TL:DR – far from ‘bringing attention’ to the issue of climate change, XR et al have popularised a doomsday mentality where the public are primed to accept any solution that ‘saves them’. This is fertile ground for dictators and technocrats…and will make the world a worse place IMHO

Paul T
PT
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark 0

The IPCC excludes changes in solar activity. Its junk.

Daniel Lee
DL
Daniel Lee
2 months ago

Don’t think for a minute that the international Climate Panic industry/bureaucracy wouldn’t do this in a heartbeat, possibly without even notifying the voters of the world in time to somehow get their governments to put a stop to it.

Kent Ausburn
KA
Kent Ausburn
2 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

To even consider such a move is insane.

Daniel Lee
DL
Daniel Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Kent Ausburn

They are.

Edward Seymour
ES
Edward Seymour
2 months ago

If by man’s actions we have altered the climate more than it would have been altered by natural phenomenon, why should we suppose that the same Man will get this type of untried intervention to correct it right? What are the inherent risks in such engineering attempts?
On the other hand, using our engineering and social and intelligence skills to adapt to changes in the climate, as we have always done in one form or another throughout time, seems to me a better use of science and certainly one that does not carry the awful risks of such a strange and complex intervention.

Nathan Sapio
NS
Nathan Sapio
2 months ago
Reply to  Edward Seymour

This is it exactly.

The entire undercurrent of people who obsess over the climate is an assumption that any impact by man disrupts the pristine natural balance.

So based on the fear manifested in that scenario, it seems like a fundamental contradiction to then turn to actively attempting to manipulate the natural world.

In what way is that not becoming the evil you fear? And of course everyone else not gripped by fear just sees the scenario as a bad movie villain plot which is clearly destined to self destruct.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Edward Seymour

We’re going to have to adapt because it’s clear we’re not going to do much to prevent it (personally it became clear to me in about 2000 that not enough would be done).

Whether something drastic and very risky such as the proposal the article suggests is needed to keep things within the temperature range where it is possible to adapt remains to be seen.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Large swathes of Holland are six feet below sea level. Adaptation has always been the answer. It makes me skeptical when the alarmists say there is only one solution, and one solution only – wind and solar. And the one solution will create unprecedented poverty.

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

God help us from those who presume to want to save us. It’s as if the twin shams of decarbonizing and electrification won’t do enough damage; there has to be something else that ensures mass suffering. Did any of you vote for this or anything resembling it? I seldom see even the most committed climate zealot living as if the planet’s end is nigh. They’re not giving up their conveniences any more than anyone else is. At some point, you have to walk your talk; otherwise, people start to think you’re full of it.

Peta Seel
PS
Peta Seel
2 months ago

This would be more dangerous than a nuclear war.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Peta Seel

A nuclear war would put lots of aerosols into the atmosphere – ie do what this article proposes – and so cause a nuclear winter – ie do exactly what the worst outcome of the work the article describes. Plus a lot of other effects such as destruction of cities and megadeath. So I don’t see how it could possibly be worse than a nuclear war.

Daniel P
DP
Daniel P
2 months ago

What could possibly go wrong?

Humans gotta stop trying to play God.

The powers at work as regards climate are immense and complex beyond our ability to fully comprehend.

One of the first lessons we teach kids, if you do not know what it is or how it works then do not touch it.

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

I dispute that: we actually do understand climate mechanisms pretty well. The problem is we also understand chaos theory, which puts a hard and inconvenient limit on how well our understanding the mechanisms translates into predictive ability.

Climate has much in common with economics, in the sense that an economist is someone who can tell you tomorrow why what he told you yesterday turned out to be wrong today. Climate scientists have the same problem, they’re just a lot less honest.

Duane M
DM
Duane M
2 months ago

Thank you, Mr. Fazi, for this excellent essay. I think you are correct that transnational corporations now exert more political power than states in the West. And you are definitely correct that faith in technology is stronger than reason in the West. And that the appetite for corporate profit will generate all manner of profit-making proposals for solving the climate problem.

The inadvertent side-effects of technology have led to global warming and its offspring, climate change. That the climate is changing due to human activity is, really and truly, settled science. But science is only about understanding the world around us; science makes no reccomendations for subsequent action.

It is faith in technology and engineering that leads to absurd proposals like solar geoengineering. The plain truth is that there is no technological solution for the problem of climate change. And the reason I say that is that any intentionally engineered project powerful enough to, all by itself, alter the climate, would be the most powerful tool every devised, and by the same token the most powerful weapon.

Technology will not save humanity, much less save the planet. For the moment, Earth is a remarkably habitable planet — there is evidence for active life in almost every region on the surface. Even in hot springs! Climate change will make some currently inhabited regions inhospitable, while other regions become more inhabitable. Adapting to that is an enormous social project. And the solutions to social problems are always just that: social.

Dougie Undersub
DU
Dougie Undersub
2 months ago

Sea levels have been far higher in the fairly recent past.
Sea Levels Near B.C. Canada Were 90 Meters Higher Than Today 14,500 Years Ago – Watts Up With That?
Kiribati is doomed. The only question is how many $Ts are we prepared to pay to give the islanders a few more decades above the waves.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

Unless sea levels rise 6 feet or something in 6 months, these islands might be perfectly safe. They adapt as well.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

The climate change stuff is all nonsense. See Patricks Moores bool ” fake apocolypse and threats of doom” if you are genuinely interested in the other side of the argument

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It’s a very good book, I must say. I especially liked the section describing the long term CO2 trend since the start of the Cambrian – it makes a quite hilarious mockery of the idea that CO2 is the controller of atmospheric temperature.

However, the climate sceptic movement itself contains disagreements, most notably with Ed Berry, whose peer-reviewed work appears to demonstrate that the atmosphere’s CO2 half-life is far shorter than assumed by any of the models that operate on the basis that emitted CO2 takes a long time to reintegrate into the non-atmospheric carbon cycle. While this might call into question Patrick Moore’s fascinating idea that human activity is actually saving the planet by restoring otherwise-fossilised carbon to the biosphere, it is in any case fatal to the politicised narrative that says that human CO2 emissions are endangering climate stability.

It will be very interesting to see which argument ends up destroying the climate change political lie. Assuming I’m still alive by then, of course.

laurence scaduto
LS
laurence scaduto
2 months ago

Madness. Madness.
The real horror is that we have absolutley zero capacity to protect ourselves from anything that sounds techno-science-y.
AI won’t destroy the human race, but it will ruin some of the things that we value. The craft of illustration, for instanse, which is mostly about visual wit and imagination, may become “a copy of a copy, of a …”
Music, which is most directly about human emotions, might go the same way. It’s all too easy to imagine the sort of “elevator music” that will result. And people will tap their feet and never even wonder what they’re missing.
And now we have choose-a-climate. Are we the only ones who think this is a bad idea?

Christopher Chantrill
CC
Christopher Chantrill
2 months ago

I don’t believe nuttin’ that the gubmint-funded scientists tell us.
For instance the science media is full of stories about “nitrogen emissions” and those horrible nitrogen-emitting Dutch cows. They don’t mean nitrogen gas, which is 78% of the atmosphere (yes, over three-quarters). They mean ammonia, at 0.0000005%. Or nitrous oxide, at 0.00003%. Or nitric oxide, at 0.000005%.
Hey kids. I gotta bridge to sell you. Cheap.
By the way, water vapor, the strongest greenhouse gas, is about 0.5% of the atmosphere. As opposed to CO2 at 0.04%.
Science.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

I do think there are issues with nitrogen. It can seep into nearby waterways and cause plant growth in lakes etc. But this is a manageable problem. Shutting down 3,000 farms is not the solution – it’s hysteria and dogma.

Leigh Dixon
LD
Leigh Dixon
2 months ago

Hang on, I thought global warming was due to CO2? Now it’s due to excess solar radiation!

At last the global warmistas are recognising that it’s the Sun. after all. Fact is , the Sun’s effects on our planet goes in cycles of around 11 years. We have recently had a “maximum “ event that helps explain the extreme weather that has been experienced during the last month or so.

c hutchinson
CH
c hutchinson
2 months ago

I thought that perhaps Elon Musk would deploy a huge mylar sheet between the Earth and sun that was mirrored on the sun side to reflect sun light. This could be moved around to reflect more or less heat as needed.

rob clark
RC
rob clark
2 months ago

“philanthrocapitalists”
synonym: Shakedown specialist!

Chipoko
C
Chipoko
2 months ago

The focus on climate change is a distraction from the real issue that we should find far more terrifying – human over-population. 2.4 billion people in the world at the conclusion of WW2; 8 billion and rising 79 years later. And yet nobody is banging the drum about this! WHY???
More people = more pollution, more fuel burning, more agriculture, more water consumption, more industry, etc. etc.

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
2 months ago

I’m partly in favour of this technology purely on the basis that people like Paul Ehrlich and Greta Thunberg hate it. Anything these idiots dislike automatically becomes a good idea.

That said, I’m not persuaded by the need for it simply because the climate is not worsening at anything approaching the rate we’re officially told at the political level. Please note at this point that I understand the science pretty well on a non-expert basis, well enough to be able to understand that human-induced climate change is real, but that the political narrative associated with it is not supported by the science or the observational data, and that therefore the correct collective response to the problem is not what we are told to accept.

However, equally well, and I say this as one who initially accepted that global warming was real and serious but became a sceptic after witnessing the unbelievable obtuseness of the political activism that grew up around it even as the observations began to falsify the alarmism in question, I have to say that I don’t welcome any measure that would extend fossil-fuel reliance beyond the point where a nuclear-power strategy could credibly replace fossil fuels. Even if we could entirely eradicate the climate externalities associated with hydrocarbons, we’d still have to put up with the painful geopolitics associated with them, and we should have dealt with that decades ago.

In short, I am actually pretty confident we could use sulfate aerosols to reduce solar gain in a controllable manner, but that doesn’t mean I’m about to assume that doing so wouldn’t come with unwelcome strategic side-effects. The answer has been nuclear power for over 50 years, and it’s still nuclear power: this changes nothing.

Ken Bowman
KB
Ken Bowman
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

As stated the solution to these problems has been available to us for a very long time. The main challenge now is to reduce the cost of construction of nuclear generation capacity. Experience has demonstrated that nuclear power generation is extremely safe. Has our ultra cautious approach been shown to be excessive? This is where our maximum impetuous should be applied.

Bret Larson
BL
Bret Larson
2 months ago

I still think the most pressing danger of a die off is from global cooling. Also, HTHH volcano in 2022 spewed a lot of water vapour into the upper atmosphere, which is convenient because we now know+1.5 degrees isn’t the end of the earth as we are already there. I think a median path is possible by just increasing the albedo of the earth.