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Geoengineering

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Artificially Cooling Our Planet

By James Donahue

Some people believe those strange contrails that crisscross our skies are more than just jet engine exhaust clouds, but rather deliberate sprays of metallic materials like boron and aluminum designed to reflect the solar heat and cool down our overheated planet.

Indeed, while politicians sold out to big business interests and the uninformed followers of Fox Noise may still belittle the concept of global warming and climate change, and poke insults at former Vice President Al Gore for his efforts to make people aware of the dangers of runaway air pollution from industrial carbon emissions, scientists and even top figures in our military understand that the issue is real and getting worse by the month.

People along the East Coast of the United States, going through extreme 100 degree plus temperatures this early in the season . . . and those in Europe and India who have suffered in recent years from similar extreme heat waves, and extreme rainfalls that are causing flooding of entire towns . . . must be converts to the climate change story. It is not only real but it has intensified so that our polar caps are melting and our seas are warming to a point where super cyclonic storms are now a common event. People along the southern sea coasts of not only the United States but of India, Asia, the Philippines, Australia and all of the island nations of the Pacific should be bracing for the worst.

While European leaders are expressing real concern about the need for capping carbon emissions and looking for alternative fuels to run our factories, aircraft, cars and heating our homes, the United States has been slow to get on board. This was largely due to the former George W. Bush Administration, led by a president who refused to publically admit that global warming was real. It was obvious that Mr. Bush and his cabinet were deeply entrenched in the pockets of the big business interests that had money to lose if forced to curtail carbon emissions.

We are shocked to see that President Barack Obama has not been taking the aggressive stand we expected him to take in getting the United States on board with the other world nations. He almost says the right things, but stops short of taking action. Has he also sold out? It is clear, based on the intensity of the storms, the extremity of the heat waves, cold winters and the growing desertification of once rich farmland, that we are quickly reaching a critical stage of climate change.

Noted physicist Stephen Hawking once warned that we could reach a point of “runaway global warming” where it will be impossible to reverse what is happening to our planet. He warned that if this happens, we could see world temperatures soar to levels that make it impossible for life.

Military advisors have been studying the impact of global warming on farm crops, drought conditions, drying river beds and lakes, and how this will generate the danger of warfare as people begin to fight over food, water and other dwindling world resources.

And scientists have been holding meetings to discuss alternative ways to head off the crisis if nothing else is done. Paul J. Crutzen, a German Nobel Prize-winning scientist, once proposed deliberately spewing polluted air into the atmosphere to create a shade from the sun’s rays.

Crutzen said he made his proposal “to startle the policymakers. If they don’t take action much more strongly than they have in the past, then in the end, we have to do experiments like this.”

Crutzen made these statements in 2006 and things have gotten much worse since then. And still governments are failing to force the desperately needed reduction in greenhouse gases. In China and India, the problem has intensified as more and more people join the industrial age.

Now researchers at NASA;s Ames Research Center in California are meeting with scientists to talk about “geoengineering” ideas, much like Crutzen proposed, for warding off climate change. They are labeling it “Plan B” which involves using high level aircraft to spew sulfur into the atmosphere.

Plan B would cool the planet, much as the ash from a major volcanic eruption has done in the past, it would stop the melting of the ice sheets over the Arctic and Antarctic regions and help increase plant productivity. But scientists say there will be negative effects that people will not like.

For one thing the process will have to be ongoing at a cost of billions of dollars every year. It could mean more droughts in Africa and Asia, more acidification of the oceans, more ozone holes in the Arctic and reduced solar energy production. And the blue skies would be a thing of the past. Astronomers would no longer be able to watch the stars in the night sky.

As the crisis grows, however, government leaders are starting to look seriously at Plan B. A House Science Committee spokesman, Alexandria Dery Snider, recently told MSNBC News that “Geoengineering may . . . be a stopgap to buy us some time if we find ourselves in a dire situation.”

Are we there yet? Is anybody listening?