by KELLEY BERGMAN
Large-scale geoengineering programs are underway in what is claimed to prevent catastrophic global warming. However, not only are these initiatives ineffective, but experts say they may have severe unintended side effects on Earth’s climate.
They’ve been called chemtrails, aerial spraying, aerosol emissions, cirrus clouds, among many other terms. The largest reports come from Canada and U.S. but it happens all over the world including countries such as France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom among many others. Thousands of planes spray chemicals, salt or other particulates into our atmosphere in an attempt to curb global warming (so they say).
Governments claim research into deliberately interfering with the climate system must continue in search of technology to use as a last resort in combating climate change.
Science academies around the world as well as some climate activists have called for more research into geoengineering techniques, such as reflecting sunlight from space, adding vast quantities of lime or iron filings to the oceans, pumping deep cold nutrient-rich waters to the surface of oceans and irrigating vast areas of the north African and Australian deserts.
The most proliferating geoengineering techniques are focused on ways of reducing the sun’s rays by blocking them spraying chemical compounds into the atmosphere is what is claimed to reflect sunlight away from earth. Researchers have debunked the claim using a simple energy balance analysis to explain how the Earth’s water cycle responds differently to heating by sunlight than it does to warming due to a stronger atmospheric greenhouse effect.
Global dimming is the gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earth’s surface that was observed for several decades after the start of systematic measurements in the 1950s. The effect varies by location, but worldwide it has been estimated to be of the order of a 5% reduction over the three decades from 1960-1990 and another 15-17% reduction from 1990 to present. Much of the dimming is being blamed on geoengineering. As a consequence, many populations in parts of the Earth are receiving substantially less vitamin D over a yearly period.
Global security and health will be threatened unless an international treaty is developed to oversee any sun-blocking projects.
The researchers are showing that this difference implies that reflecting sunlight to reduce temperatures may have unwanted effects on the Earth’s rainfall patterns. The results were now published in Earth System Dynamics, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Artificial weather modification can impact all of us by reducing water supplies, changing agricultural crop production cycles, reducing crop production, and water availability. Since most experimental weather modification programs use chemicals released into the atmosphere the public could be subjected increasingly toxic or unknown substances that could adversely impact agricultural crops and trees. If we artificially change the growing seasons, our pollinators like bees and birds (many now in sharp decline across the United States), may not survive, leaving many flowers, native plants, agricultural and trees crops that are not pollinated. Native grasses, plants, trees, and agricultural losses could be devastated not only in the United States but on a worldwide basis.
Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany, modelled five potential methods and concluded that geoengineering could add chaos to complex and not fully understood weather systems. Even when applied on a massive scale, the most that could be expected, they say, is a temperature drop of about 8%.
The potential side effects would be potentially disastrous, say the scientists, writing in Nature Communications. Ocean upwelling, or the bringing up of deep cold waters, would cool surface water temperatures and reduce sea ice melting, but would unbalance the global heat budget, while adding iron filings or lime would affect the oxygen levels in the oceans. Reflecting the sun’s rays into space would alter rainfall patterns and reforesting the deserts could change wind patterns and could even reduce tree growth in other regions.
Scientists think that they can optimally fertilize the ocean (artificially) to help restore lost/threatened ecosystems. Dropping iron filings into the ocean could theoretically generate blooms of carbon-absorbing plankton. The plankton then take in CO2 at the surface, then carry it with them as they drift to the ocean floor after death, creating “carbon sinks”. They theoretically assume iron infusions could preferentially favor certain species and alter surface ecosystems even though they have no evidence on the overall impact since the effects are unknown.
Population explosions of aquatic life that disturb the food chain may impact many wildlife populations. This has already been shown to lead to an unnatural imbalance between fish, whales and jellyfish. A 2010 study showed that iron enrichment stimulates toxic diatom production in high-nitrate, low-chlorophyll areas which, the authors argue, raises “serious concerns over the net benefit and sustainability of large-scale iron fertilizations”. It takes a long time for comparatively little effect, and the impact on marine life could be devastating.
“We find that, if solar radiation management or ocean upwelling is discontinued then rapid warming occurs. If the other methods are discontinued, less dramatic changes occur. Essentially all of the CO2 that was taken up remains in the ocean,” say scientists.
Even the foresting of deserts on a massive scale could prove disastrous if the irrigation needed to grow the trees were stopped, they say. “The desert regions would eventually return to desert and the carbon that was stored in the plant biomass and soil would slowly be returned to the atmosphere through decay and respiration,” says the paper.
“The paper sounds a timely warning about the abject stupidity of relying upon climate engineering solutions,” said Dr Matt Watson, a lecturer in geophysical natural hazards at Bristol University.
“The paper…highlights the urgent need to action approaches to climate change that increase mitigation and adaptation efforts, while simultaneously performing rigorous studies of proposed climate engineering methods. Although some climate engineering approaches, including air capture, may prove useful, they cannot be relied on as a ‘silver bullet’,” said Dr Tim Fox, Head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
In the Earth System Dynamics study, Axel Kleidon and Maik Renner of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, show how these findings can have profound consequences for geoengineering. When they applied their results to such a geoengineering scenario, they found out that simultaneous changes in the water cycle and the atmosphere cannot be compensated for at the same time. Therefore, reflecting sunlight by geoengineering is unlikely to restore the planet’s original climate.
“It’s like putting a lid on the pot and turning down the heat at the same time,” explains Kleidon. “While in the kitchen you can reduce your energy bill by doing so, in the Earth system this slows down the water cycle with wide-ranging potential consequences,” he says.
Kelley Bergman is a media consultant, critic and geopolitical investigator. She has worked as a journalist and writer, specializing in geostrategic issues around the globe.