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Using Barges to Fight Global Warming 347

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the not-enough-bath-toys-as-a-child dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Dr. Peter Flynn, Poole Chair in Management for Engineers in the University of Alberta Department of Mechanical Engineering, has developed what he would like to consider a fall back plan to help combat the effects of global warming, in northern Europe. Flynn proposes using 'more than 8,000 barges moving into the northern ocean in the fall, speeding the initial formation of sea ice by pumping a spray of water into the air, and then, once the ice is formed, pumping ocean water on top of it, trapping the salt in the ice and reaching a thickness of seven meters. In the spring, water would continue to be pumped over the ice to melt it, forming a vast amount of cold, salty water that sinks and adds to the down-welling current to re-strengthen it.'"
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Using Barges to Fight Global Warming

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  • by Mrs. Grundy (680212) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:34PM (#14656979) Homepage
    Whatever the virtues may or may not be in micromanaging an incompletely understood global chaotic system by adding further human input, you all might be interested in hearing it from the horse's mouth. In this radio interview. [radio.cbc.ca] (scroll down for links) the good doctor makes the point that he is not advocating doing this now, but rather studying the possibility in the case that we find ourselves in an emergency situation where the currents get out of whack and crazy things, like the freezing of the Thames, start happening.
    • I'm rather fond of a much simpler solution: fine iron oxide powder. It's incredibly cheap, and can be shipped by the tanker full to anywhere in the ocean - including the world's massive iron-deficient dead zones (contrary to popular belief, carbon dioxide levels are not usually the limiting factor in plant/algae growth). Sure, you need to monitor for downstream effects and possibly replenish other nutrients that become deficient as a result, but overall, it's a very efficient way to strip CO2 from the env
      • Maybe. As this article [nationalgeographic.com] says, it's not clear that small quantities of iron will do the trick. And what happens to the carbon once the algae die? Will it sink to the bottom and stay there as a solid, or will it be released into the atmosphere again (in which case as soon as we stop adding iron the problem comes back just as bad). And how badly are we going to stuff up marine ecosystems in the process?
        • by jcr (53032)
          And what happens to the carbon once the algae die?

          It gets eaten by the zooplankton, which get eaten by fish, which are eaten by bigger fish, (and so on for a couple iterations), which die, fall to the ocean floor, and feed the bottom-dwellers.

          -jcr
        • by MacDork (560499) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @02:55AM (#14657974) Journal
          this article says, it's not clear that small quantities of iron will do the trick.

          I'll see your five year old national geographic fluff piece, and raise you a two year old government study. [llnl.gov]

          simulations of iron fertilization of the oceans in the Southern Hemisphere initially showed that almost 8 billion tons of carbon would be absorbed by the ocean each year. Yet, after 500 years of continuous fertilization, the net increase in absorption would be less than 1 billion tons of carbon per year.

          Now, considering that fossil fuels contribute roughly 4-5 billion tons [montana.edu] of C to the atmosphere annually, and we've got about 100 years of fossil fuels left... How in the hell is this not a perfect solution? Oh yeah, that's right... too many global warming chicken littles out there are going to have egg on their face if atmospheric C is reduced to pre-industrial levels and global temps are still rising thanks to the simple fact that the sun is getting hotter. [space.com] We wouldn't want to actually test that "greenhouse gases cause global warming" theory, now would we? Better just stick to those computer models...

          Oh no! I'm challenging global warming rhetoric with scientific studies! Damn!! There goes my Karma! *sniff* Goodbye sweet Karma <sarcasm />

          • by Goonie (8651) *
            OK, some choice quotes from the piece you've linked to, firstly on iron fertilization:

            For example, simulations of iron fertilization of the oceans in the Southern Hemisphere initially showed that almost 8 billion tons of carbon would be absorbed by the ocean each year. Yet, after 500 years of continuous fertilization, the net increase in absorption would be less than 1 billion tons of carbon per year.

            First, the previously sequestered carbon dioxide does eventually leak back out of the ocean, although th

      • I'm rather fond of a much simpler solution: fine iron oxide powder. It's incredibly cheap, and can be shipped by the tanker full to anywhere in the ocean

        I'm incredibly fond of that idea too! Just let me light the strip of magnesium will ya? WoooHooooooo! ;-)

    • incompletely understood global chaotic system

      Yeah, try 'completely misunderstood.' Because to me it seems like the energy used in creating that ice would end up negating the benefits, if any, that its eventual melting would provide.
      • Because to me it seems like the energy used in creating that ice would end up negating the benefits

        Probably not. Ever seen snowmaking systems at ski resorts? All you really need to do is blow a fine mist of water into frigid air, and you get ice crystals. Effectively, you're increasing the surface area of a given volume of water which enables it to lose heat to the atmosphere more readily.

        The main thing I'm skeptical about, is whether the sheer scale makes it impractical. The ocean is very, very big. Y
      • Plus, uh, isn't freezing an exothermic process?
    • FWIW, the Thames used to freeze on a regular basis. There used to be fairs held on it when it was frozen. In 1410, it was frozen for more than 3 months.
    • I was going to post some smart-ass/funny comment along the lines of...

      go grab ebarge.com while its still available...

      Then I checked and well... http://www.ebarge.com/ [ebarge.com]
  • by neocon (580579) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:35PM (#14656989) Homepage Journal
    When we're done using barges to fight global warming, maybe we can use canoes to fight leprechauns!
  • Hack? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gustgr (695173) <rondina@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:36PM (#14657006) Homepage

    The estimated cost is about $50 billion.


    Wouldn't be better to spend this tiny amount of money with measures to prevent and control the emission of CO2 at the atmosphere? This barges things looks like a hack to me... a really expensive hack. Would this have to be done every year? I think it is better to leave this kind of "ultimate" solution to when there is no option at all. Until then, let's try to fight the roots of the problem, not just patch it from the outside and adjourn the disaster for a few years.

    • Re:Hack? (Score:2, Funny)

      But that would involve something other than procrastination, and the public is famous for procrastination. I have an hypothesis to account for this, I call it the Conservation of Procrastination. It states that all conservatives procrastinate. I have a second theory I've added onto this called the Liberal Procrastination Hypothesis which states that all liberals also procrastinate. A fellow researcher into procrastination has developed his hypothesis called Universal Procrastination, stating that everyone p
    • Yes there will always be something better to spend money on with pie in the sky stuff like this, but there's something about mankind that has this wild imagination. As long as we have that, we'll at least talk about o-zone barges and space elevators.
    • Re:Hack? (Score:5, Informative)

      by belrick (31159) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:49PM (#14657111)
      The estimated cost is about $50 billion.

      Wouldn't be better to spend this tiny amount of money with measures to prevent and control the emission of CO2 at the atmosphere? This barges things looks like a hack to me... a really expensive hack. Would this have to be done every year? I think it is better to leave this kind of "ultimate" solution to when there is no option at all. Until then, let's try to fight the roots of the problem, not just patch it from the outside and adjourn the disaster for a few years.


      If you researched the research, you would understand that they are not proposing this (at this time) as a solution, rather they are doing calculations to understand what it would cost to fix the problem (in this case the broken circulation of ocean water) after the fact. That is useful to be able to compare costs with those preventative measures you refer to.
    • Because it can be done then, rather than now.

      If Europe plunges into a deep freeze then I'm sure they'll find the money to do it, if it doesn't then they don't have to. Rather than spending the money now on things that might have no affect on anything anyway.

      So now we can just ignore the whole global warming thing.
    • It's described as a fallback method. If we can't stop global warming through those measures, then we at least can try to use this to slow/stop/reverse global warming. However, yes it is a hack.
    • Re:Hack? (Score:3, Informative)

      by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Perhaps some other hacks would be better. I recall this article on climate controls [reason.com] which covers a wide variety of ideas, dismissing some as obviously impractical (orbiting mylar screen? Haha!) but ultimately concluding there are plenty of things we can do on a variety of levels to begin to help counter warming.
    • It may be cheaper to launch an orbiting sun shade for the planet.
    • Re:Hack? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FleaPlus (6935)
      The estimated cost is about $50 billion.

      Wouldn't be better to spend this tiny amount of money with measures to prevent and control the emission of CO2 at the atmosphere?


      That depends... would the economic cost of reducing CO2 emissions by the equivalent amount be more or less than $50 billion?

      This isn't a completely rhetorical question... if anybody has figures, I'd be very curious to see them.
    • I agree that limiting CO2 production seems like a better way to go after the root cause. I'd like to begin building enough nuclear fusion power plants in the USA to eliminate our reliance on burning fossil fuels, including coal, for the generation of electricity. Nuclear fusion does not emit CO2.
    • According to a report on the projected annual costs of the Kyoto treaty to the United States, issued by the federal Energy Information Agency in October 1998, "The total cost to the economy can be estimated as the loss in actual GDP (the loss in potential GDP plus the macroeconomic adjustment cost) plus the purchase of international permits ... Total costs range from an annual average level for the period 2008 to 2012 of $77 billion to $338 billion 1992 dollars depending on the carbon reduction case and how
  • the barges? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GenKreton (884088)
    Meanwhile these barges use energy during the process. 8,000 barges is a lot of energy. That energy production is probably going to contribute to global warming again. We desperately need a permanent and viable solution for energy production. It is good to see some emergency plans being formulated but this will only prolong the inevitable.
  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:39PM (#14657028) Journal
    Narrator: Fortunately, our handsomest politicians came up with a cheap, last-minute way to combat global warming. Ever since 2063 we simply drop a giant ice cube into the ocean every now and then.

    Suzie: Just like Daddy puts in his drink every morning. And then he gets mad.

    Narrator: Of course, since the greenhouse gases are still building up, it takes more and more ice each time. Thus solving the problem once and for all.

    Suzie: But-

    Narrator: ONCE AND FOR ALL!!!

    Leela: Well, we just need one of those big ice cubes. Someone should call the losers who are supposed to deliver it.
    [phone rings]
    Hello?
  • by gustgr (695173) <rondina@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:39PM (#14657032) Homepage
    At least they are not planning to use trees [slashdot.org] to fight global warming.
  • Or... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:39PM (#14657034) Homepage Journal
    Or we could let the planet do what it's always done: rise and drop in temperature and water levels. Whatever you may think humans have done to the planet, it's gone through much bigger changes before we were ever here. How about we let nature take its course and we worry about changing ourselves instead of the planet?
    • How about we let nature take its course and we worry about changing ourselves instead of the planet?

      because we are seriously f***ing with nature [planetforlife.com]
      • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by truthsearch (249536)
        And somehow f**king with it more is going to help? Very logical.
        • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FooAtWFU (699187)
          Face it. People have affected the climate. They will continue to affect the climate one way or another until they're all dead (at which point it will probably be because they've affected the climate with nuclear bombs or something - boom boom boom). We are stuck in a global climate experiment, and there is no real way to shut it down entirely. Instead, we need to figure out how to deal with it, and anyone who's not considering some sort of technological assistance to at least help counter this largely tech
        • Nice try.

          You said: "How about we let nature take its course and we worry about changing ourselves instead of the planet?"

          I said: We are not letting nature take its course (re: accelerating atmospheric CO2 concentrations).

          Then you accused me of wanting to mess with nature more, which I most definitely did not say. I've been listening to the current US administration too long to fall for that fallacy.

          And what's with "worry about changing ourselves instead of the planet"? I presume you are suggesting that we
    • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:57PM (#14657152)
      Whatever you may think humans have done to the planet, it's gone through much bigger changes before we were ever here.

      That's true. However, at some of those times this planet has been just about totally uninhabitable by humans. Are you suggesting that in the worst case we just kill ourselves off and then wait for the planet to recover so some new species can evolve to take our place?

      • Re:Or... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @12:01AM (#14657180) Homepage Journal
        Yes.

        Or we spend the of thousands of years it'll take before it becomes uninhabitable to learn how to live for generations in space.
      • The human race is slightly more sophisticated right now than it's been in those past ice ages. Supposedly some sort of cave-men made it through the last few ice ages; surely with the aid of neat modern technological tools we can deal with the next one better, whenever it comes. Not that there won't be tragic loss involved or population crashes and all that stuff, but... completely uninhabitable? Unlikely, perhaps.
      • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Coryoth (254751)
        That's true. However, at some of those times this planet has been just about totally uninhabitable by humans.

        The real threat is not that the planet will be uninhabitable for humans. That's possible, but unlikely, and we're fairly adaptable. The risk is that the short term changes might be exceptionally inconvenient for humans - and by inconvenient I mean on a scale that makes trying to hew to Kyoto type restrictions* positively trivial. In the long term I expect humans will probably adapt to the changes as
    • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wyatt Earp (1029)
      That makes too much sense and it absolves Capitalism and the United States from guilt. There is no room in the Global Climate Change arguement for past climatic shifts or any evidence of the Sun rising in output or cyclical events.

      "At least 10 to 30 percent of global warming measured during the past two decades may be due to increased solar output rather than factors such as increased heat-absorbing carbon dioxide gas released by various human activities, two Duke University physicists report.

      The physicists
      • Re:Or... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ajs (35943)
        Good points. One more to add to the mix: the trend in global warming debate thus far has been to say that CO2 must be the unknown cause of global warming because no other factor could account for the increase in temperature. This is generally said because the increase does not map to the increase in solar output.

        However, if solar output were to trigger non-linear increases in global temperatures (e.g. by triggering the ~2% increase in percipitation in the 20th century, trapping solar radiation under increas
      • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Coryoth (254751) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @12:26AM (#14657327) Homepage Journal
        At least 10 to 30 percent of global warming measured during the past two decades may be due to increased solar output rather than factors such as increased heat-absorbing carbon dioxide gas released by various human activities, two Duke University physicists report.

        I think you'll find the last IPCC TAR concluded much the same with regard to the effects of increased solar output. Of course they also concluded that the majority of observed warming was most likely due to anthropogenic CO2. Take a look at this chart [wikipedia.org] showing how well CO2 correlates with the historical temperature record and realise that on that scale current CO2 levels are almost 5.5: that is quite literally off the chart. Given that we have good reason to believe in causation (absorption spectra of atmospheric CO2) it should be of concern. Yes the climate has fluctuated quite a bit in the past. Yes it is a complex chaotic system. That doesn't mean messing with it more is a good idea.

        Nope, we can't talk in this arguement about how the planet's climate has shifted in the past, but must blame the US, George W. Bush and/or Capitalism for Global Warming.

        I'm not sure attacking a strawman helps either. I don't think anyone with an actual clue is blaming George Bush and Capitalism for causing global warming, and certainly people with a clue will readily accept that historically the climate has been variable - that doesn't mean the the current trend in variation is going to in any way beneficial (or even necessarily neutral). Sure there are all those people without a clue who follow the issue as a politicised debate. There are equally shrill and stupid voices on both sides of this argument though. Just ignore them - the more attention we pay them the more pointlessly polarised this debate becomes.

        Jedidiah.
        • Take a look at this chart [wikipedia.org] showing how well CO2 correlates with the historical temperature record

          I also notice that the rise in temperature precedes the rise in CO2 for the most part of that graph.

          On that chart, the timeline goes right-to-left, with the older record on the right.

          • I also notice that the rise in temperature precedes the rise in CO2 for the most part of that graph.

            It does, and the interesting thing is that that is actually to be expected. Without some other reason for CO2 to rise (like, for example, creatures burning fossil fuels) something else is required to raise CO2 levels and produce the natural cycles. As it happens warming can often cause an increase in CO2 - warmer oceans hold less CO2. Once a natural warming fluctuation (from, say, solar variation) has become
        • Take a look at this chart [wikipedia.org] showing how well CO2 correlates with the historical temperature record

          And notice how the reversed scale confuses the fact that temperature rises tend to be followed by increased CO2. To the extent that correlation implies causation, it seems that high temperatures cause CO2 increases rather than the other way around.
      • 1. That makes too much sense and it absolves Capitalism and the United States from guilt. There is no room in the Global Climate Change arguement for past climatic shifts or any evidence of the Sun rising in output or cyclical events.

        Oh, ok, so we should take past climactic shifts into account. So everything's ok then.

        2. "At least 10 to 30 percent of global warming measured during the past two decades may be due to increased solar output rather than factors such as increased heat-absorbing carbon dioxide

        • Gotcha. Fully 10-30 percent of warming is accounted for by solar output. And the remaining piddling 70% comes from where? Leprechauns?

          A long-term decrease in the number of pirates.

    • We change our environment to better suit ourselves. This comfy chair I'm sitting on, the lights I'm under, the food I had for lunch, the air in my office, none of it would exist in that state without human touch. Almost everything I interact with on a daily basis is the result of us changing our environment to better suit us. We make small changes and we make large ones.

      We will keep doing it because we have an innate desire to make things better for ourselves. And guess what! That is "nature" taking it's
    • Because evidence seems to show whatever is happening is being increased by humans, so if it's going to kill us all off (super heat the planet or turn nature extremely hostile), we need to fix it now before we're living as mole men.

      Even if we're not bringing about any harm to the Earth, it's still in everyone sbest intrest to find a cleaner resource for our power before it runs out (and we can only dig so far before we hit magma and have no more oil or ores), so we need to start looking for a solution. Not t
  • This sounds similar to the solution in Futurama episode #57, "Crimes of the Hot" where they used to drop a gigantic ice cube in the ocean. First Episode of Season 5 [gotfuturama.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why not just leave the refrigerator open? See, Mom was WRONG all those years! If all the kid's left the refrigerator open, it would cool the world! BWAHAHA!

    Wait... you mean the world would actually get WARMER? BAH! The thermal engineers are trying to confuse me!
  • by Ruff_ilb (769396) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:42PM (#14657058) Homepage
    Wouldn't EXPENDING energy simply generate more heat? Even if the result *appears* to be a layer of ice over the oceans, this energy has to go somewhere else. I realize that the Earth isn't a closed system, but that's the problem - we've got energy input and not much energy output. Until we can fix this, any large-scale energy expenditure will NOT have a positive effect w/ regards to combating global warming, right?

    (Ok, now some physicist type needs to come along and correct me, but still...)
    • They aren't worried about the total energy in the global system, they are worried about the moderating effects created by the gulf stream. Inputting just a small amount of energy into the gulf stream may result in a much greater than naively expected result because it is meerly pushing a system over the edge of a state change.
    • It's not the heat caused by expending energy that's at issue here. It's the heat from the Sun- absorbed by the Earth or trapped by the atmosphere or reflected off into space somehow. At high noon, the sun delivers about a billion watts to a square mile of the Earth's surface, give or take (it varies by latitude and stuff like that). That easily eclipses pitiful human energy expenditures.

      Now imagine if you could somehow paint that square mile white. It'd reflect a lot of heat back into space. That is the hea

  • by atarione (601740)
    I'm sure politicans are all following over themselves trying to spend 50billion dollars on this idea. I guess I'll stop building my house up on 10ft stilts .... i'm sure this will stop the massive climate change and prevent ocean level increases.
  • by digitalgiblet (530309) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:44PM (#14657078) Homepage Journal
    First thought I have is "how much energy would be required to do this?"

    Eight THOUSAND barges pumping enough water to make a layer seven METERS thick? EACH YEAR.

    I'm no scientist, but it seems to me we'd be pumping out some greenhouse gases somewhere in this mix...

    Would these be nuclear barges? No greenhouse gases, but instead spent nuclear fuel to contain for a really long time.

    They estimate $50 billion USD to do this, but they don't say if that is the ongoing yearly amount.

    Maybe easier just to genetically engineer all the plants and animals to deal with the new conditions rather than try to control the ocean currents (and for the humor impaired -- that sentence is meant as a joke).

  • by StefanJ (88986) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:48PM (#14657103) Homepage Journal
    When the bought-off pundits, ideology-addled fanboys, and fossil fuel industry flaks run out of viable talking points in their F.U.D. campaign, the debate over global warming won't be over whether it is happening, but on the most effective and economical ways to slow it down and cope with its effects.

    There won't be a one-size-fits-all fix. Conservation and more efficient vehicles will be a big part of it. Environmental remediation projects, like reconstructing coastal wetlands to help them deal with floods and storms, will be another.

    Stange notions like seeding the ocean with iron filings, and this oddball idea, are another possibility for the "arsenal" of fixes. I'd definitely put some money into researching them. Figure out the kinks sooner rather than later, so they'll be available if we need them.
    • No one is disputing that there is global warming. The dispute is whether it's man-made or natural.

      There's been global warming since the end of the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago.
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:54PM (#14657134)

    This scheme reminds me somewhat of some of the (intentionally) money-wasting schemes of the movie Brewster's millions. Large machines sent thousands and thousands of miles to mechanically move an almost unimaginable ammount of water, along with the fuel needed to do all of this large-scale de-facto terraforming (aquaforming?).

    That...or the Futurama episode where it was revealed that global warming had to be fended off with giant ice cubes from Haley's comet every once in a while.

    What this scheme ammounts to is a color shift of a rather small portion of the earth's ocean, for a rather small ammount of time, and enormous cost.

    You could achieve the same dynamic by:

    A) Using some cheaper coloring to semi-permanantly paint large portions of land environments with an already severely limited biological environment, including deserts, rocky areas, upper mountain ranges, near-permafrost (permafrost is already white most of the time), etc. Longer-lasting and cheaper than the ice-cube in the ocean effect. Could be undone with darker color later if needed.

    B) Genetically engineer and feed cryophillic bacteria with light pigment in near-arctic ocean areas. Either have it continuously expell bouyant light-color material as part of the life cycle, or else have the body stay boyant and un-edible by further bacteria after death. If this is feasible, and self-sustainable, we'd have a meaningful, if limited engineered biological terraforming. Similarly can be undone with darker color later.

    Those are just two quick ideas - I'm sure there's a lot others that would work to do color-based terraforming. Are there any special reasons why this barge idea would... hold water still above such ideas?

    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:03AM (#14657533) Homepage
      How about cities? This article [reason.com] (good lord, this must by my sixth post linking there in this discussion :) notes a potential urban contribution:
      A mere 0.5 percent change in Earth's net reflectivity, or albedo, would solve the greenhouse problem completely. The big problem is the oceans, which comprise about 70 percent of our surface area and absorb more light because they are darker than land.

      When it comes to increasing albedo, it would be wise to begin the discussion by introducing positive measures that can be easily understood and are close at hand. Reflecting sunlight is not a deep technical idea, after all. Simply adding sand or glass to ordinary asphalt ("glassphalt") doubles its albedo. This is one mitigation measure everyone could see--a clean, passive way to Do Something.

      A 1997 UCLA study showed that Los Angeles is 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding areas, mostly due to dark roofs and asphalt. Cars and power plants contribute, but only a bit; at high noon, the sun delivers to each square mile the power equivalent of a billion-watt electrical plant.

      This urban "heat island" effect is common. But white roofs, concrete-colored pavements, and about $10 billion in new shade trees could cool the city below the countryside, cutting air conditioning costs by 18 percent. Cooler roads lessen tire erosion, too. About 1 percent of the United States is covered by human constructions, mostly paving, suggesting that we may already control enough of the land to get at the job.

      Paint the cities white, you'll save oil for air conditioning costs AND make for a more reflective Earth.

      The article also suggests burning lots of sulfur-rich coal in western Pacific island nations, resulting in more clouds over the ocean and a higher albedo.

    • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:48AM (#14658316)
      Because he's not suggesting this as a 'fix' to the albedo, but a way to provide a big stream of cold salty water at the north end of the global conveyer. Why go to all that trouble?

      The global conveyer transports hot water from the equator to and western coast of europe, including the UK, keeping that part of europe warmer and more temperate than it's latitude would otherwise make it. The warm water cools, drops down, and returns in a reverse current going south. Too much fresh water at the northern end of the conveyer, from melting fresh water ice at the pole, and russian rivers, dilutes that heavy salty water, and weakens (and could eventually stop) the return trip of the conveyer. The conveyer weakens or even dies, and the UK gets a lot colder, causing all sorts of problems. This 'fix' would strengthen or even restart the conveyer. The 50 billion gives you an idea of how much it might cost us in the medium term if we ignore global warming, just to 'fix' one part of the problem.

      Hopefully, politicians will look at this idea, not as something to do now, but something to convince themselves to do something about global warming (i.e. CO2 and methane emissions) before we have to start planning on projects like this. There's a good chance that the global conveyer shutting down will happen in my or my children's lifetime if we do nothing, and I'd rather not have to seriously face a plan like this.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    1. Stop selective de-forestation of the South American rainforest.

    2. Find the fucking Europeans some other place to grow soybeans for their bio-diesel so they don't start de-foresting the Congo.

    3. Build nuclear power plants.

    4. Build breeder reactors and core re-processing factories so we don't have to bury as much radioactives.

    5. Find a fucking use for all the radioactive by-product waste generated from 30 years of unabated plutonium weapon manufacturing. Vitrify it and use the barrel to de-ice sidewalks or
  • He suggested seeding the relatively dead waters of the Southwest Pacific with iron ore to encourage an algee bloom, which would then help absorb greenhouse emissions.

    Like his idea, this one will be shot down for the same reason: It might actually do something about the problem, doesn't funnel money to the climatologists pushing Global Warming as a means of securing ever-more funding, and it offends the the civil religion of environmentalism by allowing Western Civilization to escape suffering (in the form

    • Like his idea, this one will be shot down for the same reason: It might actually do something about the problem, doesn't funnel money to the climatologists pushing Global Warming as a means of securing ever-more funding, and it offends the the civil religion of environmentalism by allowing Western Civilization to escape suffering (in the form of a stagnant economy die to crushing greenhouse gas taxes) for its "environmental sins."

      Humans are spiteful like that.

      We don't just want you to be wrong and us to be

    • "Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism"
      This again - obviously if something is black it must be a crow even if it has four legs and moos.

      It's the act of a confidence trickster to attack the messenger and not the message - and if we keep doing that scientists will be branded as fanatics and we can forget about people getting a decent education in the mainstream.

    • Crichton can be a really nicely-worded misleader when he wants to be. Yes, there are crazed idiots within the Christian faith who believe that the End Days can be accelerated by promoting destabilization in the middle east. And there are idiots in the environmental movement who believe that the problem is doom, the destruction and the rest of the crap that he cites.

      Meanwhile, there are Christians working hard to improve the lives of various people on a day to day basis, and there are environmentalists w

    • Wow, I actually more or less agree with something Michael Crichton has to say (not a frequent occurrence). But I think he's describing only a segment of people who fall in the enviro camp. He's conveniently overlooking the rational environmentalists.

      Also, I call you on "It might actually do something about the problem," unless you really understand the meaning of "might". Read this piece [agu.org] by Sally Chisholm, a professor at MIT who kind of knows a thing or two about iron seeding.
    • While yes, the tree-hugger stereotype that fears all change is definitely out there - to say that all environmentalists are basing their position on faith and not science is ridiculous.

      In fact, I would argue that there is quite a bit of logic and science behind the conservative environmental position. It is a fact that humans do not do well outside of a fairly limited range of temperature, light, radiation, and availability of water, oxygen, and food. Many scientists see measurable trends occuring that po

  • ...just build a giant shield to block the sun?

  • by smash (1351)
    We only need to burn x,000 units of fossil fuels to run the pumps :D

    Without taking into account the fuel consumed to actually manufacture said barges...

    smash

  • New Plan (Score:2, Funny)

    by iSeal (854481)
    5 Years Later, on Slashdot:

    "Due to all the additionnal greenhouse gases created by having 8,000 barges continuously circumventing the oceans, the Alberta professor now suggests to add more barges... to curb the effect on global warming the old ones created."
  • by SiliconEntity (448450) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @12:16AM (#14657268)
    The original paper [springerlink.com] is unfortunately not available without a subscription, but it has considerably more detail.

    The cost breaks down as a capital outley of 45 billion dollars for the barges and equipment; and operating expenses of 1.3 billion dollars per year. The barges would be wind powered for the pumping operations so no substantial CO2 is generated.

    8100 barges, with a wind power system, a low volume pump and two high volume pumps per barge. 32 helicopters, 4 harbors, 4 air bases and 1 control center, for the Thunderbirds, I guess.
    • The barges would be wind powered for the pumping operations so no substantial CO2 is generated.

      Yes, but the energy used on the barges could be used to replace energy generation which currently produces CO2.

      In high northern and southern lattitudes wind generation at sea is actually one of the better sources of non-polluting energy.

  • by Pollux (102520) <speter AT tedata DOT net DOT eg> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @12:25AM (#14657319) Journal
    The TV sitcom "Dinosaurs" was such a wonderful show. It was an excellent satire, paralleling the Dinosaur's "modern" world with our own. As soon as I read this article, I immediately thought of the final episode of this sitcom.

    In the final episode [tv.com], a comet is heading towards the planet, and the "We Say So" corporation devises a way of destroying the comet using "modern" technology, only to find that it has a consequence. Each "solution" cause a larger and larger problem, only to be "fixed" with another "solution", causing an ever-growing problem. I forget the entire sequence of events, but in the final stage, they kill all the plant life on the planet. They figure that to bring the plant life back, they need to make it rain. Rain is formed by clouds. Clouds are formed by erupting volcanos. So, naturally, forcing all the volcanos to erupt will cause clouds to form, causing rain to fall and restore the plant life for all the earth. The episode finishes with the corporation detinating bombs inside volcanos, causing all the volcanos to erupt, blackening the sky, causing the start of the ice age.

    Words of wisdom from Dinosaur Earl Sinclair: "It's so easy to take advantage of nature because it's always there, and technology is so bright and shiny and new."

    Let the Earth take care of nature. We're so focused on manipulating nature for the survival of every single life on Earth, we lose site of the fact that every now and then, nature has to correct our mistakes to restore its own balance, whether in the form of a plague, a change in the weather patterns, or an ice age.
  • by Belseth (835595) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @12:35AM (#14657374)
    Sure sounds easier than increasing gas mileage and cutting greenhouse emissions. Amazing some of the bone head solutions for avoiding dealing with the real issue. I remember a proposal of digging tunnels in the mountains around LA to blow the smog out. Gee let's spend tens of billions so we don't have to be responsible and cut emissions. When LA actually starting passing laws against polution it got radically better. Then a little thing called the SUV showed up and most of the gains were lost. Back in the late 70s you could hardly see the mountains at all for months at a time. By the early 90s heavy smog days were rare. Ten years later they are common again. We can make a difference it just requires effort and responsibility. People don't want to make sacrifics or accept change. Well things are changing so you better get used to it.
  • by toupsie (88295) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @12:45AM (#14657425) Homepage
    If we blew up the Sun, we wouldn't have to worry about Global Warming.
  • Mother Earth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rockwood (141675) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @12:48AM (#14657446) Homepage Journal
    The earth has maintained itself against far worse things then global warming. Ozone holes have been shown to increase and decrease in size. This is most likely not from any of our efforts, but those of mother nature and earth maintaining itself like it has long before any form of human had walked the earth.

    Global warming is not all about taking care of 'our earth'. It's about saving our own asses from extinction.

    Earth has endured asteroid showers, meteor showers, major volcanic erruptions that produced ice ages and other effects of extreme proportion. Earth will contineu to self-maintain long after the human race died off, or nuked themselves. When a major earth shifting event happens, evolution begins again.

    Leave the glabal warming, ozone holes, melting ice alone - It's evident that since we started reducing ozone depleting chemicals, introduced automobile emmission controls, and a bounty of other reversal efforts, that nothing is helping. I strongly feel that we are not causing these things - rather earth is evolving herself, and unfortunately her future plans may or may not include any of the current species. We're beating a dead horse!

  • Smoke & Mirrors (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196)
    How much new Greenhouse will burning all the fuel to run that plan create?

    Of course the operation could be fueled with nonemissions energy sources. But with a contingency plan like that, the petrofuel industry will have even less inhibition in pumping emissions into the Greenhouse.

    Any Greenhouse plan has to start by changing the system to reduce its emissivity. The best way to reduce the Greenhouse, and its unpredictable chaotic feedbacks, is to stop building it.
  • by bigtrike (904535) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:23AM (#14657614)
    I have an even better idea. Why don't we use all of the extra CO2 in our atomosphere to make dry ice? Everyone knows that dry ice is way better than water ice at cooling things down, so it will be much better for cooling the planet down. We can even dump it in the ocean to replace the melting polar ice caps!
  • If "BIG IF" a housing/large apartment/buildings are required to install sabatier conversion unit and solar power unit? The energy input (+400C and some pressure) with CO2 and 4H2 intake (even at low efficiency), output would be methane, a source of energy which can heat up the house/building and excess production can feed into molten-carbonate fuel cell plants through existing gas pipe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabatier_process [wikipedia.org]

    "Circle of life, Simba, Circle of life."

    When the methane is collected and use

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

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