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Space Science

Space Ring Could Combat Global Warming 955

Posted by timothy
from the pie-plate-in-the-sky dept.
telstar writes "Though the debate continues around global warming, a new proposal suggests building an artificial space ring around the Earth to block the light of the sun and bring a balance to solar radiation, cloud cover, and heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The ring could be comprised of particles which would scatter the sunlight, or be built by an interconnected ring of spaceships aligned to block the light. The former proposal is estimated to cost anywhere from $6 trillion to $200 trillion dollars, while the spaceship solution would run approximately $500 billion. Halo fans rejoice."
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Space Ring Could Combat Global Warming

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  • by aendeuryu (844048) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:35PM (#12927478)
    Since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun...
    • Debate?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geeber (520231) on Monday June 27, 2005 @10:22PM (#12928313)
      Though the debate continues around global warming...

      What an excellent opening sentence. The problem is, which debate is he referring to? Is he talking some real scientific debate? Or maybe a politically motivated debate based on non-science in which the powers that be try to confuse the public into believing there is no scientific consensus, with the goal being to maintain the status quo and avoid angering the energy lobby.

      Because, scientifically, there is no real debate anymore over whether or not man is impacting the climate and causing global warming.
      • Re:Debate?!? (Score:5, Informative)

        by VivianC (206472) <internet_update@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Monday June 27, 2005 @11:04PM (#12928543) Homepage Journal
        Because, scientifically, there is no real debate anymore over whether or not man is impacting the climate and causing global warming.

        Your statement is true. The debate is over how much man in impacting climate change. The Earth has been through many, many periods in its history where it was warmer than it is today. This was before cars or factories. It managed to cool itself down.

        There is still much debate about global warming in scientific circles. There is much less debate in the media.
        • Re:Debate?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by nihilogos (87025) on Monday June 27, 2005 @11:39PM (#12928731)
          The Earth has been through many, many periods in its history where it was warmer than it is today. This was before cars or factories. It managed to cool itself down.

          Most people aren't really worried about the Earth. They're worried about the inhabitants. Mass extinctions usually accompany planetary wide climate change.
          • by MoneyT (548795) on Monday June 27, 2005 @11:49PM (#12928767) Journal
            Sucks to be a species that can't adapt. Thankfully we have AC.
          • Around the year 1000 for example, it was much warmer than today. There's a reason why "Greenland" is called that: it had thawed and the Vikings could colonize and farm it.

            Then it cooled off some time later, and the colony was all but abandoned.

            The fun part is, the humans didn't go extinct, the gulf stream didn't reverse, ocean fauna didn't all float belly-up because of melting glaciers being sweet water, etc.

            Basically that's what gets me pissed off about this _political_ "waah, we're all DOOMED if you do
            • Even if the climate change is natural, we may have the power to keep our planet at the temperature we want it at.

              After all, don't you like tropical islands? A working gulf stream?

              What if we could alter the amount of solar radiation received and tailor it to our needs to make more of the planet inhabitable and comfortable.

              More than that with a ship ring, we could get all the annoying people to crew the ring (or at least serve prison sentences on it).
            • by stevelinton (4044) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @07:08AM (#12930168) Homepage
              The warming in the year 1000 was relatively local. The global average temperature has not been as high as it is now for, at least, hundreds of thousands of years.

              There is loads of data of many different kinds. Many of them (like oxygen isotope rations in polar ice) measure average sea-surface temperature globally.

              Your statement about satellite data is just plain wrong. Some cloud temperatures are lowering, but surface temperatres are rising.

              The CO2 cycle is roughly 200 GTonnes in (before 1900 or so) a balanced cycle, about half in the sea, half on land. Humanity now releases roughly 9 GT/yr, and the increase in atmospheric CO2 suggests that roughly none of this extra 9 GT is being absorbed anywhere, so the cycles seem to be slow to regulate themselves.

              Many of your other statements are simply wrong. See, for instance, the National Academy of Sciences report.
            • by kisak (524062) on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @07:16AM (#12930203) Homepage Journal
              There's a reason why "Greenland" is called that: it had thawed and the Vikings could colonize and farm it.

              Greenland was not a farm country in the Viking age. The name was chosen to convince others to join the colony; it was a PR trick (that didn't work). Rember, Iceland was called Iceland by the vikings, not a sign of this region of the earth was very hot a 1000 years ago. Actually we are in the warmest periode in 10 000 years it seems, since the ice on Kilimanjaro for instance has not been as reduced as it now for the last 10 000 years. It is true that when the dinosaures roamed, Svalbard which is north of Iceland, was inhabitated by creates that needed warm weather. But that is millions of years ago.

              Another misleading name by the vikings that settled the North American continent, is that Newfound land was called Vin-land (which means something like fertile land). (Some vikings settled in Newfound land but left for unknown reasons, the saga mention that the settlers there had problems with the native population. ) It is anyway not know what happened to the small colony of vikings that settled on Greenland. Some think that they had a bad winter and died. There is no historical account of the colony returning to Iceland or Norway. Another theory is that the vikings there joined the eskimos (or whatever they are called more politically correct) and became a part of their gene pool in a matter of speak.

              • Kilimanjaro (Score:3, Informative)

                by Fished (574624)

                Actually we are in the warmest periode in 10 000 years it seems, since the ice on Kilimanjaro for instance has not been as reduced as it now for the last 10 000 years. It is true that when the dinosaures roamed, Svalbard which is north of Iceland, was inhabitated by creates that needed warm weather. But that is millions of years ago.

                Actually, the evidence suggests that the lack of ice on Kilmanjaro has less to do with global warming and more to do with deforestation--because the forests at the base of

              • by Queer Boy (451309) * <`dragon.76' `at' `mac.com'> on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @09:12AM (#12931013)
                Another theory is that the vikings there joined the eskimos (or whatever they are called more politically correct)

                Enuit. Eskimo is a racial slur that means fish eater. It's analogous to nigger.

              • by Jonny_eh (765306) on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @09:13AM (#12931025)
                Eskimoes are supposed to be referred to as Inuit. I don't think Eskimo is too insulting (last time I looked it up, that's the conclusion I reached), but they're referred to as Inuit here in Canada by most people. As times change, so does language and terminology. Nobody uses the term Negroe anymore.

                Inuit has a nice ring too, it's not cumbersome like the 'African-American' conjunction is.
            • Basically that's what gets me pissed off about this _political_ "waah, we're all DOOMED if you don't follow ME" hype about global warming. It's mis-representation and scare tactics.

              Actually, what amases me about the political debate, is that a lot of the people who claim climate sciencists don't know what they are talking about and more research is needed before even doing the slightest initative that might help prevent global warming getting worse, are usually exactly the the same people that says

        • Re:Debate?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Decaff (42676)
          The Earth has been through many, many periods in its history where it was warmer than it is today.

          But (apart from the occasional meteor strike) this happened slowly.

          We are now talking about change in terms of decades, not millenia.

          Also, just because the Earth was much warmer naturally, does not mean we would like to live in those conditions. We have build our cities and farms and industries in conditions which have been stable for thousands of years or more. Even minor shifts in temperature, rainfall
      • Re:Debate?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NitsujTPU (19263) on Monday June 27, 2005 @11:21PM (#12928648)
        Because, scientifically, there is no real debate anymore over whether or not man is impacting the climate and causing global warming.

        Awesome. Have you a link to a paper in a reputable journal that discusses this finding? Who was it that finally, conclusively, proved this?
        • Re:Debate?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by flosofl (626809) on Monday June 27, 2005 @11:33PM (#12928703) Homepage
          Who was it that finally, conclusively, proved this?

          Probably the same guy that modded him informative...

          Seriously, everytime I see a study that "proves" one thing, someone else comes out and "proves" the opposite. And then that gets rebutted. And so on until it resembles an old Breck commercial except with uglier people in white lab coats. As far as I can tell, everyone is still bickering at about the same level as they were 10 yrs ago.
          • Fair and balanced (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MichaelPenne (605299) on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @04:02AM (#12929564) Homepage
            You have on the one hand a peer reviewed, falsifiable, reproducible study that says one thing by a bunch of folks (perhaps in lab coats) who studied and workd 8-10 years of their lives to get to the point where they could be 'peer' reviewed.

            On the other hand you have something called a study with none of the above features (except the authors often have a TLA in something, though maybe not anything to do with atmospherics or even physics).

            But the press thrives on conflict, so it reports both studies as being by 'noted scientists' or maybe one was a fictional tale by some guy who wrote alot of SCIENCE (fiction).

            Most folks have no idea what 'falsifiable', 'peer review', or 'reproducible' have to do with anything important like the price of gas, so they believe the press when it tells them that the different 'studies' represent two sides of the issue (fair and balanced).

            And with enough money on both sides to support new 'studies' the debate could well go on until every last icecube in Greenland turns into liquid oxygen dihydride.

            Then the big controversy will be whether to build giant seawalls around the coastal cities or to run screaming for higher ground.

            And you can bet the press will present that story with two nicely balanced sides, as well.
            • Then the big controversy will be whether to build giant seawalls around the coastal cities or to run screaming for higher ground.

              }It's possible that fuel cells will reverse "global warming". With more water vapour in there air, one can only assume there will be more cloud cover. Before too long there will be people screaming that fuel cells are going to bring the new ice age.

        • Re:Debate?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by BigDumbSpaceApe (749732) on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @02:10AM (#12929226) Journal
          Have you a link to a paper in a reputable journal that discusses this finding?
          Is Science [sciencemag.org] acceptable?

          I find the resistance to taking even the slightest measure a little ridiculous. Much like evolution, no one has definitively proved anything. Also like evolution, the basic mechanics are of global warming are understood and the theory has been sitting around 100+ years waiting for someone to poke holes in it (GW was first posulated in 1890) [wikipedia.org]. No one has.

          In simpliest terms: There is no doubt adding large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will tend to raise temperatures. There is no doubt that we are adding large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. There is no doubt that temperatures are rising. Q.E.D.

  • well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by schnits0r (633893) <nathannd@sBOYSENasktel.net minus berry> on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:35PM (#12927483) Homepage Journal
    In this world of fantasy (which we do not live in) it would be nice...however I'd much rather my tax dollars going towards more enviromental regulations and research than some high tech sci-fi wonder.
    • fiscal extravagence always boast's well with Congress.
    • by Namarrgon (105036) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:49PM (#12927616) Homepage
      What about that interlocking ring of spaceships being an interlocking ring of solar panels? Then that blocked energy can get diverted to earth in a more desirable form (via microwave beamed to a stable superconducting space elevator, something we particularly like the idea of here in my country).

      That might even take the pressure off the environment, as you could probably shut down most of the world's coal-fired power stations.

      • by ppz003 (797487) on Monday June 27, 2005 @09:01PM (#12927712) Homepage
        For some reason, I'm getting an image of a charred barren hillside a few miles from the collector. A bunch of people are running around on fire. Oh, wait, that's a SimCity 2k screenshot. Nevermind.
        • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @10:20AM (#12931745) Journal
          For some reason, I'm getting an image of a charred barren hillside a few miles from the collector.

          That was examined in considerable detail a few decades ago, with an eye to preventing exactly that scenario (along with things like microwave-cooked birds falling out of the sky ready to eat). A fine solution was found:

          First: Pick a frequency that, unlike the band used in microwave ovens, is NOT readily absorbed by the water composing most obstructions or potentially damagable natural structures (clouds, birds, cows, plants) or by other materials found in lifeforms. (There are some fine bands for this in the milimeter wavelengths.)

          Second: Put up a "rectenna" site (antennas with microwave semiconductors - "Crystal sets of Inconcevable Power" to quote a pardoy of Doc Smith). This covers tens or hundreds of acres, and catches essentially all of the energy while letting most of the sunlight through. (You can graze cattle under it if it's not at Fort Stinkin' Desert - and even there it won't bother the lifeforms beneath it once the constructin is done.) Even if the beam were pure heat it would only be a large-single-digit multiple of the amount of sunlight shining on the area on a clear day, and it's nearly all caught by the rectenna.

          Third: Transmit a "pilot carrier" from an antenna in the middle of the array to synchronize the transmitters spread out across the broad structure of your solar collectors (or across a number of them).

          The result is a "synthetic aperture" antenna of large size, tightly focussing the return power on the receiving rectenna site. If the pilot signal is lost the beam immediately defocusses - within milliseconds - as the syncronization is lost, with most of the energy missing the entire planet and the rest being orders of magnitude weaker than a distant radar site. (Ditto for the energy from an individual transmitter that loses sync - it stops being combined with the rest of the beam and turns into a much smaller microwave beacon.)

          From synchronous orbit the earth is a small fraction of the visible sky, and any target on it is not visible to the naked eye. If the energy from the beam were all visible light and defocussed you'd have a hard time spotting it in daylight.

          You could do the same pilot beam hack with laser light. But why bother? Lasers are less efficient, more more would be absorbed by the atmosphere, and less converted to useful power at the output. Even with the tech available in the '70s you could get 85% or better from DC in at the satellites to power to the grid on Earth.

          Construction costs would be comparable to those of an earthbound plant. Then fuel is free for the life of the plant and there's no waste to dump (except the plant itself if you ever decommission it, or any burned-out parts).

          Semiconductors on the ground. Vacuum transmitting tubes in orbit. (Vacuum tubes are EASY in orbit, and very efficient. B-) )
      • Then we'd still be getting the heat. The whole point is to reduce the flux absorbed and trapped by the earth.
        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday June 27, 2005 @09:36PM (#12927982) Homepage
          But that heat would be taken out of the chunk we produce when we consume energy from other sources, so it is still a net gain on the inward flux. Reducing emissions by closing coal plants would increase the outward flux. This also reduces the energy expended on getting at our current sources of energy, so less heat is produced by us. We win on all fronts.

          Personally, I'd like to have the huge space-bound solar collector with microwave transmitter, but in a place where it doesn't reduce the sunlight on earth. If we clean up our act with emissions we should have plenty of breathing room and not have to block out the sun just yet. And sunlight is useful for so many things.
          • by gessel (310103) on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @12:52AM (#12929000) Homepage
            If we were to cover 1/2 the land area we've paved in the US with solar panels of standard efficiency, we'd generate as much electricity as we consume in all forms of energy in the US. The rest of the world is quite parsimonious by comparison, though they could so too meet all their needs and live as profligately as we do without environmental impact.

            It has been suggested by people not bothering to do the math that the change in albedo from the solar cells themselves would cause warming, but we've already paved twice that area.

            Biofuels are relatively inefficient compared to solar cells, but fairly simple as well and carbon net-neutral. Biofuels and solar hydrogen could meet our mobile and nightime needs easily.

            We can live as we do, with all the juice and cars and whatnot, so long as we do not too grossly expand our population, in a closed loop, steady state system. We could live quite comfortably if we overturned the Ford coup of the 1920s and reversed the graft-based decision to build roads and the 1950's military decision to build suburbs. With a predominantly urban population moving by train (or working close to home/at home) we could buy the solar cells with a few year's oil expenditures.

            Unfortunately Solar doesn't have the profit margin of oil, so there's no political/industrial interest. There's $10 trillion worth of oil in Iraq we took ownership of for a mere $1 trillion in military expenditures (at the current burn rate, given the time it will take to pump it out). The usual profit sharing (if we chose to share with the Defeated People) is 50/50, meaning at least 5:1 profit on that adventure for the country as a whole, but since Haliburton is actually getting paid for their efforts (and then some) and the profit will accrue directly to the oil companies and not back to We the People, it's an amazingly shrewd business deal, the greatest heist in the history of mankind: $10 trillion. Almost the entire US gross domestic product for a year.

            Nobody building solar factories is going to see that kind of profit, and without it they can't compete in the congressional auction. Laws aren't bought flat rate, they're sold to the highest bidder and no industry can outbid the oil industry.

            It would be far cheaper to convert the global energy economy to solar (as a combination of solar-thermal, solar-electric, and solar-biofuel with the only other long-term viable power source as a backup--breeder nuclear, which (not ignoring the very real waste problem) is the only other energy source we have that can meaningfully contribute to our long term power needs) than to build a great space ring. The low range costs are small compared to the current value of the known oil reserves (roughly $80 trillion, proven plus mid-range USGS unproven estimates at $40/bbl).

            It's technically easy to solve, but politically impossible.
      • by Guppy06 (410832) * on Monday June 27, 2005 @09:14PM (#12927822)
        Because it's easier to convince people to let you put a bajillion microsatellites into orbit than it is to convince them to let you build another nuclear power plant.
    • Re:well... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by blazer1024 (72405)
      I'd much rather have my tax dollars going towards me.
  • Ahh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:36PM (#12927489)
    How could this go wrong?
    • by ImaLamer (260199)
      The entire world becomes depressed, due to the absence on natural light, kills themselves or simply stop having sex. Doesn't apply to humans only, most higher forms of animal life ceases to exist.

      Of course, linux users are as chipper as ever due to the fact that they never seen natural light to begin with so they aren't as affected.

      (As someone with seasonal affective disorder, I see this as a death sentence)
  • One Ring... (Score:5, Funny)

    by brilinux (255400) <kg4qxkNO@SPAMarrl.net> on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:36PM (#12927497) Homepage Journal
    This would not work. Other planets would become jeleous and greedy, all of them wanting to get The Ring from us. There would be wars, many would die, and entire civilizations would die. What we need to do is get a neutral planet, one without such greed, who can take the ring, and hurl it into Jupiter. Then, the universe will be free.
  • So... why a ring? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gaewyn L Knight (16566) <[vaewyn] [at] [wwwrogue.com]> on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:37PM (#12927503) Homepage Journal
    Why not put a disk direct between us and the sun at a stable gravity point?

    We know how well solar eclipses work... why not just a permanent 'dimming'?
    • Re:So... why a ring? (Score:5, Informative)

      by carambola5 (456983) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:59PM (#12927699) Homepage
      Because the location you speak of, the first Lagrangian Point [wikipedia.org] (L1), is unstable. In strict three-body motion, if you place the "disk" exactly L1, it will stay there. Unfortunately, any slight deviation will cause it to move further and further from L1. Perturbations to consider:
      • There are quite a few other bodies you must deal with, so it's really not 3-body motion.
      • The disk is continuously under solar pressure. This "disk" is essentially acting as a solar sail!

      Stationkeeping under these circumstances is very difficult. There are plenty of other concerns... heat rejection, debris, etc.

      It was a good idea, but not feasible... at least not as feasible as the ring idea.
  • Um. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by failure-man (870605) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {nameruliaf}> on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:37PM (#12927507)
    Wouldn't it be cheaper, easier, and more effective to, I don't know, build energy systems that don't release carbon? Just a thought.
    • Re:Um. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ajs (35943)
      This is an amazing straw-man. Propose an INSANE idea for preventing the warming of the planet (hint: figure out the mechanism that causes ice ages before you go reducing the light that reaches the Earth), and then you can argue that major changes need to be made in the way humans live in order to prevent such madness. I bow in frustrated awe at the genius of that ploy.

      Wouldn't it be cheaper and easier to just have a sane debate about how we treat our back-yard?

      Oh bother, go ahead. Do whatever you want. I'
      • Re:Um. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xoboots (683791)
        I don't understand your argument. Are you for or against reducing pollution caused by fossil fuels? After all, INSANE reliance on fossil fuels got us into this mess, not? Nevermind that it is a non-renewable resource. There has been an attempt to engage people for the last 25 years in a reasonable debate on what to do about the pollution problem it causes (the evidence is overwhelming and the consensus in the scientific community quite plainly asserts this based on countless studies) yet the typical retalia
    • Re:Um. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by learn fast (824724)
      You're forgetting about the corporations that will make more money by building the energy systems that release carbon and the $200 trillion space ring.
    • Re:Um. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sir_Real (179104)
      200 trillion dollars? What the hell kind of plan is that? Were they going to buy everyone a prius?

      Oh, and why aren't there any diesel hybrids?
    • Re:Um. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CaptDeuce (84529)

      Wouldn't it be cheaper, easier, and more effective to, I don't know, build energy systems that don't release carbon? Just a thought.

      Sure. Solar Power Satellites. Large arrays of solar cells assembled in earth orbit and the energy beamed to earth via microwave. And no, it will not be a "death ray". The beam footprint would be miles across with a power density a mere fraction of sunlight. See Geoffrey Landis papers [sff.net] and The SSP Monitor [wronkiewicz.net], or do a google.

  • What the fuck? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by backslashdot (95548) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:37PM (#12927510)
    What kind of a hair brained scheme is this??? What happens when global warming ends because we haven't any more money for cars having spent it all on this ring?

    Of the 6 trillion, why not spend the$ 3 trillion on environmentally safe energy (fusion plants, geothermal, solar panels in the deserts) and spend $3 trillion to buy off all the oil megacorporations.

    Besides, moving the earth further away from the Sun is a much more hair brained idea, so why not do that?
    • Besides, moving the earth further away from the Sun is a much more hair brained idea, so why not do that?

      Your other ideas were hopeless, but this... this might get you some funding.
  • Solar Cells (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CommunistTroll (544327) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:38PM (#12927511) Homepage
    You can buy a lot of solar cells for $6 trillion dollars.
  • Solar Power! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bri3D (584578) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:38PM (#12927518) Journal
    Additionally, the ring could have solar panels on the outside and thus power the whole Earth cleanly...unless there is too little silicon on Earth to build that many solar panels...yes I know there is a lot, but that's a lot of solar panel...
    • by Namarrgon (105036) on Monday June 27, 2005 @09:47PM (#12928064) Homepage
      Lessee, the earth is about 15% Silicon [arizona.edu], or nearly 896 billion megatonnes, particularly in the crust and bound up as quartz and other silicates. That's quite a lot of Si.

      Now, let's orbit these solar cells at 500 km altitude, i.e. a diameter of 13,756.3 km or circumference of 43,217 km. The article doesn't say how wide the ring should be, but to block 1.6% of the sunlight to a circle 12,756.3 km in diameter would require a strip about 160 km wide. That's 6.9 million square kilometers of solar cells in the full ring.

      Now the silicon wafer in a solar cell [wikipedia.org] is really quite thin, typically around 300 microns thick, so that's only 2.074 cubic kilometers of silicon all up. Density is 2330 kg/m3 [webelements.com], so that's 4,833 megatonnes of silicon required, or about 0.0000005% of the earth's resources. I think we have enough.

      Of course, the energy required to manufacture that sort of area of solar cells would be pretty high, but think of the returns. The earth receives about 1370 W/m2 [rutgers.edu] in orbit, so multiply that by the area of cells facing the sun (2.04 million square km), and you get about 2.8 billion MW of incident radiation :-) Let's say these cells aren't particularly efficient, maybe 10%, plus transmission losses of another 70%, and you still have 84 million MW of usable energy, all day, every day.

      Now, in 1997 we used 380 quadrillion BTUs [ecoworld.org], globally, or about 111 quadrillion watt-hours. That's an average consumption of 12 million MW, comfortably within our budget for some time. An energy-producing system with a capacity of 7 times the entire global requirements is worth quite a bit.

      There's only one downside to this - if we divert all this energy down to earth & use it, it all ends up as heat in the end, which completely nullifies the original purpose of the ring (if you remember) of preventing global warming! D'oh!

  • Giving up. (Score:5, Funny)

    by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:39PM (#12927539)
    And in related news, Al Gore has ridden the mighty moon worm.
    • Good for him.
    • by Tezkah (771144)
      We just need all the robots to converge on the side of the Earth that faces the sun, and have them all point their exhaust pipes skyward, thereby moving the Earth slighty farther from the Sun!

      It'll even give us an extra week in each year. We will call it "Robot Party Week"
  • At least in the sci-fi books. The Mars Trilogy (Red, Green, Blue Mars) by Kim Stanley Robinson descibes a ring of mirrors (made from the solar sails of cargo ships sent to Mars) orbiting Mars with a central set of mirrors to concentrate their light and reflect it onto Mars itself to accelerate global warming to aid in terraforming the planet. In Green Mars iirc, they sent it off to venus to do the opposite: reflect light away from the planet to cool it off.

    Tm

  • $6-200 Trillion? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tyates (869064) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:40PM (#12927546) Homepage
    They can't be serious. Who could fund this? Isn't World GDP only around $40-50T?
    • then we change the economy.
    • Re:$6-200 Trillion? (Score:3, Informative)

      by NitsujTPU (19263)
      Well, technically, by funding such a massive project, you boost the economy... increasing the GDP of involved countries and boosting the values of involved interests.

      That said, with out government and CEOs working together, they'd probably siphon all of the money out of the country into the hands of some country who doesn't care much for us... who would then proceed to nuke us into a sheet of glass.
    • What global warming?

      I have it from a super-reliable source (George "Dubya" Bush) that there is no such thing as global warming. It is all a knee jerk, radical left wing fantasy designed to throttle the American economy (says he).

      On the very miniscule chance that "Dubya" is wrong, what exactly is wrong with global warming, anyway? The neo-Con(artists) always look at the silver lining in that dark cloud - a longer growing season, less need for winter heating, new opportunities for real estate development
  • $500 billion? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alcimedes (398213) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:41PM (#12927548)
    Or we could just cut down on pollution for FREE!

    Honestly, how much would it cost to require an SUV to get 30+ MPG instead of 15?

    • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:45PM (#12927579)
      Honestly, how much would it cost to require an SUV to get 30+ MPG instead of 15?

      It would actually costs less than an SUV, you'd just have to dump half the steel to cut weight, which would reduce its size significantly. I propose we call the result the "carr." Or something like that. I don't know. I'll leave that to marketing, but I'm gonna get my company on top of this. We'll make a fortune.
    • ACtually your numbers are outdated--since maybe 2003 most SUV's get closer to 30 mpg than to 15. Heck, my 7 year old SUV got a solid 20, and they've improved every year since then (Ford Explorer for me).

      If you really want to talk about vehicles that get bad mileage target Jeeps and minivans--minivans are worse than SUVs.
    • I got a better idea... how about we force SUV's off the market for the average joe.

      Something like, you need a special license to drive an SUV/pickup truck/huge ass car. Or some sort of permit is required... 90% of the SUV's, trucks and other large cars I see on the road are carrying a single person (aka the driver) with absolutely nothing else. Not hauling lumber, not full of supplies, hell, not even full of groceries...

      Why have an SUV that can get 30MPG when you could have a much smaller car that sea
      • Re:$500 billion? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Billly Gates (198444)
        ... Someone please explain to me the need for SUV's and trucks when only a single person is driving in it...

        For one oil lobbiests have modified our tax code where an American can get an SUV or truck free of charge if they are a business owner in tax refunds. So why not?

        Second its because they can. They can afford to do so and are unaware that the rest of us pay for higher gas prices due to lack of supply while the rich like the comfort and safety of a big vehicle.

    • Re:$500 billion? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cliffski (65094)
      nothing. Try driving a european car, especially the smart car. The amount of effort people in the US are prepared to go to so they can keep driving hummers and suvs is amazing. Sometimes you will even prefer to fight bloody wars in the middle east, although I'm guessing the families of the 1500 dead marines so far probably wish Bush had just put a few cents on gas prices instead.
      I guess thats what happens when you let oil companies fund election campaigns.
  • Futurama (Score:3, Funny)

    by crazyaxemaniac (219708) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:43PM (#12927559)
    I thought we could combat global warming with giant ice cubes mined from Haley's comet.
  • Eeeexcellent.
  • According to wikipedia global dimming might have actually masked the effects of global warming. Too bad we got reversed the effects of global dimming. The two forms of pollution were canceling each other out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_dimming [wikipedia.org]
  • I think it'd be cheaper and easier to tow, for example, a big enough moon and lock it in orbit around our planet so that there's a big eclipse covering us at all times.

    I vote for Titan, so we can study it up close, and maybe mine it for methane and whatnot.
    • If you were to move Titan into Earth orbit, much closer to the sun than at its home, Titan would change drastically I would assume. The thick atmosphere would act to heat the planet rapidly, melting the ice and frozen hydrocarbons. You could study Titan at that point I guess, but not the Titan you knew.
  • The worst part is that an orbital shield to save us from ourselves will result in truly awful sequels to great B movies.
  • Wouldn't it be cheaper and faster to reduce auto emissions by putting people into the empty seats of the cars we have already?

    A quick way to do this would be a system to match people who need to get somewhere with cars going there anyway. An ad hoc cab system. A feedback system should get rid of the creeps that made it though some sort of screening process.

    Cheap, fast, technically possible, low impact and large results. It's impossible, of course. It would involve the cooperation of citizens.
  • The major problem associated with global warming is energy production. If we physically block out a portion of the sun's radiation, that will reduce the useful energy input to earth (via autotrophs and solar cells and weather/climactic cycling and so on). While it may possibly solve the climate change problem, won't such a space shield only exacerbate the problems we face with replenishable energy?
  • The orbit of this band can't be anything but contentious. The shadow cast by this band would fall equally on both Northern and Southern hemisphere countries. Yet most of the greenhouse gas emitters (U.S., Europe, Japan, Asia, et al) are concentrated in the Northern hemisphere. The shadow would also affect equatorial countries that are not the cause of the problem.

    It's an interesting solution but seems to place some burdens (e.g., ecological changes) on countries that are not the alleged cause of the p
  • Highlander II, Shield Corp
  • Then aliens from the planet Zeist will come, and the only thing standing between us and them is an old Connor MacLeod, who has to again take on the mantle of the Highlander to save our asses,
  • There was some info a little while back about how CO2 could be reduced by seeding the oceans with small amounts of micronutrients. I assume that this would help with declining fish populations as well. There was another suggestion for harvetsting the crop, particularly if it produced some kind of oil as I believe some diatoms can be made to do.
  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:52PM (#12927639) Homepage Journal
    For decades we've been told by the environmentalists, "if there's even the tiniest chance that global warming is real and man made, then it would be foolish to do nothing about it." This is Pascal's Wager, but applied to a different religion. But two can play at this game!

    "If there's even the tiniest chance that global warming is NOT happening, then this would be an extremely foolish thing to implement, as it could trigger the next ice age..."

    c.f. Niven's "Fallen Angels"
  • by beavis88 (25983) on Monday June 27, 2005 @08:56PM (#12927673)
    They want their article back.
  • yeah...sure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spytap (143526) on Monday June 27, 2005 @09:02PM (#12927726)
    And we will get the raw materials for these ventures...how exactly?
  • $200 Trillion? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lheal (86013) <lheal1999@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Monday June 27, 2005 @09:04PM (#12927744) Journal
    For that kind of dough, wouldn't it be easier just to move the Earth to a higher orbit (further from Sol)?

    $200 trillion (2.0 x 10e14 dollars), or even $1 trillion, is a big chunk of change to go spending on something we don't even know would fix the problem. What if it's not enough? How much money do you dump down the hole (or in this case, throw into the air) before you start thinking about alternate solutions?

    How much seawater could you pump into the central Sahara for $1 trillion? Make a giant salt marsh the size of say, Texas. Still plenty of desert left over, don't worry. But how much cooler would that make the globe? Don't even use 4-degree Celsius water from the Atlantic, but get 20C water from the Red Sea. It'll fill back up.

    Or, maybe we could just accept the changes in climate as the natural order of things (even if they're our fault - we're natural, too). If the oceans rise, move to higher ground.
  • Screw Halo! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rick and Roll (672077) on Monday June 27, 2005 @09:39PM (#12928014)
    I like the way Futurama deals with the issue.

    For those who don't remember, the sport-utility robots (Bender included) get on a single island and blow fuel from their exhausts (read: asses) to propel the Earth away from the sun.

    That episode freakin' ruled.

  • Sheesh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArghBlarg (79067) on Monday June 27, 2005 @10:10PM (#12928246) Homepage
    Or we could, ya know, spend 1% of that and colonize Mars, fund pollution free energy sources, control human over population, and, ya know.. STOP SCREWING UP THE EARTH. Yeah, let's build impossibly-large space structures with money that *could* go to solving the root causes (our bad ecological practices) instead of just behaving ourselves and taking care of the Earth, that's MUCH easier. What utter stupidity.
  • by graigsmith (868939) on Monday June 27, 2005 @11:15PM (#12928614)
    lets spend billions of dollars to put a ring around the earth. tons of fuel would have to be burned to do this. they could just throw some glitter into orbit. heres a better idea. have everyone on the planet plant at least one tree. trees would help cool the earth. because they hold more water. trees also help water evaporate so there will be more rain. more rain = cooler weather.
    • by benjamindees (441808) on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @01:16AM (#12929077) Homepage
      heres a better idea.

      Uh-oh, I'll bet it's not...

      have everyone on the planet plant at least one tree.

      This could be going in the right direction...

      trees would help cool the earth.

      Yes, okay, and now for the science...

      because they hold more water.

      ... Okay, not what I was expecting, but let's go with it...

      trees also help water evaporate so there will be more rain.

      But, I thought we were storing water, not helping it evaporate? There must be some logical reasoning behind this...

      more rain = cooler weather.

      Oh. Dear. God.

  • Estimate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thebatlab (468898) on Monday June 27, 2005 @11:41PM (#12928740)
    How the hell do you actually estimate that something will cost 6 trillion dollars? Trying to get an estimate for something that can run upwards of a million dollars would be extremely hard.

    I mean, sure, if you're off by a couple million then it's not a big deal in the scheme of things but has there ever been a more "pulled out of our ass" estimate ever?

    Sounds like saying "We don't know but it'll be lots!"
  • by Mulletproof (513805) on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @12:04AM (#12928817) Homepage Journal
    Now I know anything to do with space and the words "global warming" tend to induce a frontal lobotomy in many Sladot readers, but there are people actually taking this seriously??? Come on, there's gotta be something left in that cavernous skull to realize this has got to be one massive joke. I mean, somebody seriously misplaced the foot icon here.

    Look at it this way... You've got $6 trillion to $500 trillion dollars burning a hole in your "save the earth" pocket. Dontcha think that maybe, just maybe you could put that money to better use by throwing it at something that doesn't require lobbing multiton roman candles into orbit? I mean $500 trillion . You honestly can't think of an industry or two here on the ground you could revolutionize overnight, let alone in the time it'd take to assemble THIS project?

    Speaking of that, what sort of time frame are we talking? Any mention of such is amazingly absent. And we haven't EVEN gotten into the fact that the scientific community is still deeply divided on the exact cause of global warrming. Everything from man's impact to the natural warming and cooling cycles of the earth come into play. Hell, there are even published scientifc reports that say the Sun is hotter than previously measured. We still don't have a conclusive clue and these people want to throw a reflective tarp over a portion of the earth. What is the damn environmental impact of THAT? What happens to the plant and animal life UNDER it? Not as much heat or sun, that's for sure. Draw your own conclusions.

    I'm sorry, but this is a prime example of what happens when people who think they're smart smoke crack. They find implausible and extrodinairy ways to waste our money.
  • Suppose... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rew (6140) <r.e.wolff@BitWizard.nl> on Tuesday June 28, 2005 @03:43AM (#12929516) Homepage
    Suppose that you get a big country like the US to invest something like US$5B into this project.

    Fine. Now you are blocking the sun on bunch of other countries that A) didn't pay for it B) don't want you to block their sun.

    This thing would be way TOO big not to block unwanted countries.

    If my math is correct, For each 8 tons of gold (or similar material that you can make very thin) you can create a ring of 1m wide, 10nm thick around the earth. (I did the math for "just above sealevel", or about where the spaceshuttle flies).

    This 8 ton ring would block .1 millionths of the sun's radiation. You need about a million tons to shield 1% of the sun's radiation, requiring only 25 thousand space shuttle flights.....

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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