VIEWS: 43 PAGES: 11 CATEGORY: Periodicals POSTED ON: 10/21/2012
Most eBook uploaders incluging myself almost always scan & upload full books and magazines. For a change, I have decided to upload scanned magazine articles in this post! Whenever I come across good articles, I usually scan them & share with my close friends who have similar likes. These articles have been taken from Indian editions of Popular Science, Geo amd BBC Knowledge. All are in PDF format with OCR. If you like them, please leave a comment so that in future I can share some more with you! 01. 2011 Invention Awards 02. African Masters, European Slaves 03. Awesome Labs 04. Big Science 05. Flesh and Blood 06. Moonstruck 07. No Pulse 07. The Ages of the Eternal City 09. The Climate Engineers 10. The Man Who Would Stop Time
THE CLIMATE ENGINEERS All attempts to reduce the worldwide emission of greenhouse gases have failed— and the temperatures on earth continue to rise. Now scientists are exploring the possibility of averting the planet's thermal collapse with technical interventions in its climate. A megalomaniacal idea or an unavoidable emergency strategy? by Klaus Bachmann (text) and illuteam43 (illustrations) Playing with Clouds Plan 1: U n m a n n e d s h i p s travel across t h e o c e a n s a n d a t o m i s e seawater. T h e clouds f o r m e d f r o m t h e m i s t r e f l e c t t h e s u n l i g h t m o r e strongly. A s s e s s m e n t of t h e m e t h o d : COOLING POWER: * * * TIME AVAILABLE: © © © COST: € € € DISADVANTAGES: - Can alter ocean currents and global precipitation patterns. - Does not help against ocean acidification if the carbon dioxide emissions continue. | - Once begun, the coming generations must abide by it, otherwise the temperatures will rise steeply within a short period of time. Relatively cheap, so that individual states can apply the method on their own. * $ & $ Ss very high - ® very low cooling power © very s h o r t - © £ > © © © very long lead time € very low - € € € € € very high costs © Water condenses on the salt crystals at the base of pre-existing clouds. Tiny droplets are formed. salt-induced droplets normal droplets 0 The water vaporises and the salts dissolved in it crystallise. Reflection of the sun's rays Size is the decisive factor. If the same volume of water forms many droplets as opposed to one large drop, the surface area is much greater and the cloud reflects more sunlight back into space. O The droplets coming from the rotors are so fine that they rise up on their own. Flettner ships Unmanned spray ships use a . -vimi acting upon rotating cylinders. .P.... The spraying system is installed in the rotors. In principle, the sea water would be sucked up and atomised through extremely fine nozzles. However, it is nnae for satellite still unclear whether this •communication would work in reality. I s the remedy for swallowing in space to provide a planetary political scientists and ethicists are still taking the a fly to swallow a spider? 'sunshade' for our overheated first tentative steps. They are struggling with several Do we now have to cool home; or the large-scale dumping questions: What side effects could occur if humans down the planet with of ferrous salts into the ocean in tamper with the climate on a large scale? W h o should hazardous scientific order to encourage the growth of decide when it is time to 'swallow the spider' and who methods because we have been plankton that will effectively capture could supervise the operation? Should we have different busily emitting greenhouse gases h a r m f u l carbon dioxide f r o m systems of evaluation for plans aimed at removing into the atmosphere unchecked? the atmosphere. carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and those that Now that Plan A—the reduction However absurd these plans may propose to shade the earth? Should researchers be of emissions—is on the verge sound, we cannot simply dismiss studying these alternatives at all or should they keep of failing, do we need to switch them out of hand. Geo-engineering their hands off? After all, the hubristic idea that anything to Plan B—geo-engineering, or is no longer the dirty word that it can be accomplished by scientific or technical means climate engineering, as some prefer used to be. More and more scientists is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place. to call it: the technical manipulation are turning their attention to these of the earths climate systems? and other controversial ideas in THE PROTAGONIST "Absurd, reprehensible, several countries from the USA to Delusional technocrat, irresponsible climate-tinkerer: megalomaniacal!" is how most China and India. Failed climate such descriptions do not suit Ken Caldeira. Even if the people react upon hearing these summits, clear evidence of global 54-year-old, who likes to dress in jeans and polo shirts, ideas for the first time. Ideas like warming and the realisation that and drives a yellow Honda 750 to work in Stanford, pumping liquid sulphur dioxide the temperatures will continue California, is one of the most influential prophets of into the atmosphere via hoses to rise for a long time even if we geo-engineering. Few people have spent as much time hoisted up to a height of 30km by stop all carbon dioxide emissions studying computer simulations of what might happen if giant balloons where the substance immediately—all this has fuelled we constructed a sunshade made of particles of sulphur will scatter and shade the earth; or the call for drastic measures. dioxide droplets in the high atmosphere for 'sun ray setting up millions of small mirrors Climatologists, oceanographers, management'. And probably no one else in the world Steered by 'hat satellites', the discs swarm around the Lagrange point, a location about 1.5 million km from the satellites earth's surface where the gravitational forces of the earth and the sun cancel each other out. satellite mirror The discs, each measuring around 0.5m, will be fired into space in packages of 800,000 each. has given as much thought to the pros and cons of which 750,000 people assembled 'swallowing the spider.' demanding the abolition of nuclear At present, Caldeira is rarely to be found in his weapons. At the time, Caldeira untidy office at the Carnegie Institution's Department earned his living as a programmer of Global Ecology in Washington. He often appears as for banks, but soon he turned away an expert before the US House of Representatives where f r o m the sector in disgust and he tries to convince the members how important it is shifted to climatology. to prepare for the consequences of global warming. He In 1998, he crossed paths with delivers lectures, attends conferences. one of the very people against While talking, Caldeira often breaks off in mid- w h o m he had taken to the streets sentence and commences again with better phrasing. in the early 1980s: physicist Lowell He is meticulous with words. For example, in describing Wood. Wood was not only a protege his position, he says that he is not a proponent of geo- of Edward Teller, father of the engineering, but simply an advocate of exploring hydrogen bomb, but also worked on Climate researcher Ken Caldeira it further. America's anti-missile system in one t h o u g h t the idea of of the nuclear armouries during the manipulating the earth's Caldeiras reasoning is as follows: When, at some Reagan era. It was his meeting with atmosphere was preposterous point of time, the crops all around the equator take a — u n t i l he tested it with a massive tumble because of global warming, when there Wood that led Caldeira to the field computer simulation. are large-scale emissions of methane from the thawing of climate engineering. permafrost in Siberia or when Greenland's ice sheet At a conference, Lowell Wood melts, we would be in a situation where we might have announced that he had a solution for to manipulate the earth's climate quickly and radically. climate change: shooting particles And we need a plan for this emergency. into the atmosphere that would Caldeira does not see geo-engineering as an reflect the sunlight back into space. alternative to greenhouse gas reduction, but rather as In the years following the eruption a kind of emergency insurance. "People do not buy of the Pinatubo volcano in the an insurance against lire for their houses because they Philippines in 1991, researchers had assume their house will burn down. They think that it been able to prove that the climate will be money well spent if it can save them from ruin really could be affected this way: in the worst case." clouds of sulphur from the volcano At the beginning of Caldeiras career, there was brought global temperatures down no indication that one day he would be studying by 0.5°C. But could such an effect be controversial climate interventions. His life has taken artificially induced and regulated? turns that still astound him. In 1982, the 25-year-old It could not work, thought the Caldeira had organised a huge demonstration in New sceptical Caldeira. To prove his point, York—one of the biggest in the history of the USA—in he and a colleague constructed a climate model to simulate the effects of a global sunshade.' The result: a reduction in the amount of solar A Parasol in Space energy reaching earth of 1.8 per cent. Plan 2: Billions of ultra-fine discs form a giant "My intention was actually to put cloud in space that will shade the planet. an end to all the talk about climate Assessment of the method: engineering," Caldeira reminisces. COOLING POWER: * * * * "But to our surprise, the strategy AVAILABILITY OF TIME: © © © © © worked much better than expected." COST: € € € € € In their computer model, even a DISADVANTAGES: relatively small shield offset the - Astronomically high costs. A capsule containing effects of a doubling of the carbon 800,000 discs will have to be shot into space every minute for 38 years. dioxide content in the atmosphere. - Does not prevent ocean acidification. "However," Caldeira immediately - Affects the water cycle on earth. qualifies, "no one should assume that sun ray management will be International Atomic Energy Agency, the agency that perfect." Greenhouse gases (which controls nuclear weapons, he says. But the former peace would remain) and sunlight (which activist is deeply suspicious of governments. "If the would decrease) heat up the earth consequences of warming are bad enough," Caldeira is in different ways. Carbon dioxide certain "the governments will disregard the rules and and other gases absorb thermal do what they want." This scenario is also likely because radiation in the middle layers of a sulphur sunshade could be erected for just a few billion the atmosphere. The sun's rays euros per year—an amount that even smaller countries primarily heat up the earths surface, could manage on their own. make liquids evaporate and thus The scientific community agrees that there would propel the planet's water cycle. have to be an international regulatory framework for If one blocked t h e m off for the technical interventions in the climate. This would purpose of cooling, the temperature would fall, but at the same time the climate machinery would produce FINALLY, WE MAY less rain. In a world shaded through geo-engineering, one could perhaps HAVE NO CHOICE maintain the temperatures at their present level—but precipitation BUT TO INTERVENE. patterns would necessarily change. So much for the global picture. also provide the answer to several questions: Under At the local level, the effects really what circumstances would researchers be allowed to begin to diverge. Climate engineers test their ideas? W h o would assess the risk? Which would never be able to do justice to institution could approve field tests? In the case of an all parts of the world with a global extensive operation, who would ensure that the interests intervention in the atmosphere; of various countries are in equilibrium? Could Syria there would always be winners forbid Israel f r o m seeding the atmosphere with sulphur and losers. A study that simulated dioxide? A n d how could countries such as those in thousands of scenarios provided Africa—that are already practising agronomy under examples: if a terrestrial sunshade is almost impossible conditions and would be critically erected, the summer in India would affected by even the smallest changes—be assured of a be one and a half degrees cooler in 2070 than in 1990, but a little more humid. In contrast, people in Acid against the Sun eastern China would have almost Plan 3: Sulphur dioxide mist in the stratosphere, the same temperature as now, but at a height of between 15 and 25km, will reduce the climate would be much drier. the sun's thermal radiation. There is an enormous potential Assessment of the method: for conflict in this unequal COOLING POWER: * «fs $ * distribution of effects, as Ken AVAILABILITY OF TIME: C D Caldeira is well aware. He imagines COST: € € a situation where China would want DISADVANTAGES: to dim the sun just a little, the USA - Precipitation patterns shift, monsoon weakened. m - Does not prevent ocean acidification through carbon i would like to reduce it a little more dioxide. and Europe would perhaps not want - Destroys the ozone in the higher levels of the to turn the thermostat knob at all. atmosphere that protects the planet from harmful 1 UV rays. Yet, each intervention would have - Once we begin with the technology, we would be m consequences for all of them. "Who compelled to continue with it, unless carbon dioxide 1 should regulate it?" he wonders. emissions are not reduced in a parallel movement. • Otherwise global temperatures will escalate as soon I He thinks for a m o m e n t . as the shading stops. Perhaps an institution like the - No blue skies any more. Transport by hose Liquid sulphur dioxide is pumped into the upper atmosphere through hose pipes where nozzles atomise it. Gigantic V-shaped balloons keep the conduit, several kilometres long, floating. Transport by aeroplane Cargo planes could deposit liquid sulphur dioxide or sulphuric acid in the stratosphere. 25 fully loaded jumbo jets would have to take off every day in order to transport the required 1 million tonnes of aerosol per year into the air. say in the matter? As of now, these interventions. The conference was him uneasy, he considers transparency to be key: legal questions are unresolved. meant to invoke the spirit of the research should be public and all findings should be There are some legal precedents legendary conference of 1975 at the published in universally accessible journals. Therein that could be applicable, says Ralph same venue when biologists had lies Caldeiras conundrum. Deep down, he is basically Bodle, an expert at the international laid down rules for the nascent field ecological think-tank Ecologic. of genetic engineering to limit its Countries would not be allowed to risks. All that emerged at the end Fertiliser for the Sea "cause any significant transnational of Asilomar 2.0 was simply a non- Plan 4: Ferrous salts stimulate the growth of algae that eliminate large amounts of carbon damage to the environment." And binding statement. The purport: the dioxide from the atmosphere. they would have to conduct concept is risky. We do not know environmental tests, as stipulated enough yet. We need more research. Assessment of the method: by the International Court of Justice Ken Caldeira kept his distance. COOLING POWER: * * * in 2010. All in all, the application of "I did not want to lend my name to AVAILABILITY OF TIME: © 0 0 © these rules to geo-engineering is it," he says indignantly. According COST: € € € still unclear. "We are talking mainly to him, the organiser, Climate DISADVANTAGES: - When the plankton sinks and decomposes, oxygen- about ideas and models," says Bodle. Response Fund, wanted to misuse deficient or even anaerobic regions can emerge at In March 2010, 175 scientists the conference to attract investors greater depths: death zones for fish. met in California at the Asilomar for field experiments. - Nutrients can be drawn from neighbouring regions because of the excessive plankton growth. This Conference Grounds, near Caldeira is convinced that such affects the fish populations as well as fisherfolk. Monterey on the Pacific coast, in critical experiments should be - The ecosystem in the open waters changes. order to formulate guidelines for funded from state-owned sources. - The level of acidity rises more easily in the deeper levels of the sea. research and testing in climate But since governments also make plankton Iron is scarce in large regions of the oceans—the target area for ships releasing ferrous salts into the sea. Unicellular algae (phytoplankton) benefit the most from this fertilisation. Dead phytoplankton sink to the bottom of the sea. A part of the biomass is decomposed by microbes in the lower levels and eaten up by zooplankton. Part of the carbon which the phytoplankton bloom has absorbed—anywhere between 1 and 15 per cent—reaches the ocean floor and is sequestered there for a significant span of time. IRON MEN with 40 tonnes of ferrous sulphate. The idea was to study the growth of phytoplankton, p r # i Two marine scientists in a hurry especially diatoms, w h i c h in turn sustain to save the world. other forms of marine life, including krill on which Blue whales feed. Diatom blooms (and t h e life they VICTOR SMETACEK A N D WAJIH NAQVI sustain) take carbon out of the ocean, the want to do w h a t t h e whales once d i d deficit of which is balanced by absorbing it f r o m t h e a t m o s p h e r e . Diatoms are Wajih Naqvi and Victor Smetacek naturally: fertilise the ocean with iron. And in ferrous sulphate, they see t h e most special in t h e protective glass casing of get close to the Antarctic rim where the effective g e o - e n g i n e e r i n g solution to silica they b u i l d a r o u n d themselves. At water is rich with silica. The Antarctic Treaty mitigate climate change. the end of their life cycle, the silica casing and the fears of environmentalists meant Smetacek is a marine biologist and the carbon debris sink to the b o t t o m they had to restrict their experiments to the specialising in p l a n k t o n at t h e Alfred of the ocean. This carbon, taken from the outer rim of the Antarctic Ocean, where it Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine atmosphere and deposited on the ocean meets the warmer waters, and where silica Research in Germany. Naqvi is a chemist floor, feeds microbial life. supply is not plentiful for diatoms. at the National Institute of Oceanography Doesn't this h a p p e n naturally? Not Naqvi and Smetacek recognise w h y in Goa. enough, not these days, says Smetacek.The environmentalists fear geo-engineering. Their biochemistry materialised in diatom blooms are patchy, w i t h more silica They d o not w a n t mitigation efforts like LOHAFEX (short for Loha Fertilisation t h a n carbon to hold t h e m d o w n to t h e iron fertilisation to take the focus away Experiment), an Indo-German research ocean floor. The upwelling of deep waters from reducing carbon emissions. "It is like programme to measure the potential of iron around the Antarctic brings some of it up there is a hole in the boat humankind finds fertilisation in the Antarctic Ocean. In 2009, again. "Which is why we need to study the itself in. You cannot say you will not bail out Smetacek and Naqvi took a research team viability of bigger blooms," Naqvi adds. the water till the hole is plugged. You need aboard the German vessel Polarstern, loaded For this, the LOHAFEX team needed t o to do both," says Smetacek. Sopan Joshi 'green: on the one hand, he rejects the involvement of Gates' f u n d to check if the spraying companies, but on the other, he also administers—along principle actually worked. "I called with fellow campaigner from the University of Calgary up old friends who had worked in Canada, David Keith—the research funds allocated with m e earlier," says Neukermans. by Bill Gates out of his private assets for geo-engineering. He collected a group of scientists, In addition, Caldeira is keenly aware of a possible side all of t h e m of retirement age like effect of his work: "If geo-engineering works, people will him, w h o would be assisted by say, 'Hey, there is a quick technical fix, so why bother younger colleagues. It was a team trying to reduce emissions?'" of veteran researchers embarking The ball is firmly in the hands of the conservatives on Mission Climate. It was rather in the USA. Having spent years denying h u m a n like the film Space Cowboys, where responsibility for global warming, they now enthuse a crew of aged astronauts in sent an about the promise of climate engineering as simple, out-of-control satellite armed with cheap and effective. nuclear missiles to the m o o n and Armand Neukermans, physicist saved the earth. and inventor, is working on a Though Neukermans and his procedure to brighten the clouds above the oceans with THE INVENTOR team remained on the ground, their ultra-fine droplets of sea water. Oil magnates and the bosses of coal-fired power plants aim, too, was to save the earth. Their will certainly like this m a n and what he does, even vision: an armada of ships cruising though Armand Neukermans only sprays sea water. the oceans and sending myriads However, the physicist, who was born in Belgium but of unimaginably small droplets of achieved fame and fortune as an inventor in California, sea water into the air. The water is also studying a method suggested as a remedy for the would vaporise on its way to the climate, namely, making the clouds whiter so that they sky, leaving behind ultra-small reflect more sunlight and help cool down the earth. salt crystals on which some more It is not easy to find Neukermans' lab in Sunnyvale droplets would form on reaching in an impersonal complex, a flat-roofed building with pre-existing clouds. The finer tinted windows, a carbon copy of so many others in these drops, the whiter the cloud, Silicon Valley. Actually, it is just half a lab since the and the bigger its albedo or the researcher and his colleagues share the room with the reflecting power. company that occupies most of the building. Doubling the n u m b e r of "Three years ago, if someone had asked me what geo- droplets in all the clouds of a engineering was, I would have said: 'something strange,'" certain type over the seas would admits the powerfully built man with snow-white hair. suffice to offset the heating effect It was only by coincidence that he discovered his of the carbon dioxide content in new passion, explains Neukermans. A couple of years the atmosphere, which itself has ago, he came across a cloud-spraying project led by doubled since pre-industrial times. two British researchers—and offered his help on As per the calculations of the British the spur of the moment. The researchers wanted to researchers in the team, it would produce cloud particles that would rise up, grow by the require 45 tonnes of sea water to collision and coalescence of droplets at high altitudes, be atomised per second into tiny and thus increase the density of existing clouds. And droplets a thousandth of a millilitre. Neukermans probably knew more than anybody else This means 1,500 robot ships on all about the creation of droplets: in the 1980s, he had the oceans would be needed. played a decisive part in the development of Hewlett- However, N e u k e r m a n s and Packard's inkjet printer. his science veterans are already In 2009, he presented his ideas about extracting struggling with limited resources in cloud particles from sea water at a conference in their preliminary research. Like in Edinburgh. Among the audience in the auditorium every other start-up, improvisation was Ken Caldeira, who was so taken by his presentation is the order of the day. Whenever that he granted Neukermans 300,000 dollars f r o m Bill possible, the tinkerers organise second-hand material, borrowing spits out 100 billion cloud particles the atmospheric researcher. He sits amidst magazines a laser-measuring device to per second. The tiny particles are and books behind his desk on the second floor of determine the size of the droplets; just a h u n d r e d t h o u s a n d t h of a the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz taking the help of someone with millimetre in size. (Germany). The 62-year-old has spent more than 30 access to an electron microscope W h a t next, M r Neukermans? Is years studying aerosols in the earth's atmosphere: how who can magnify the cloud particles the time ripe for tests on the sea? they are produced in nature, above forests, above seas; for them; getting another pal to help "That is not my decision. We are how humans are increasing the level of contaminants; out when a tricky problem arises. not advocates of the method. We how sulphate and carbon black influence where, when The team has an ambitious simply want to prove that cloud and how much it rains. It is a complex field. And from goal—they want to create such particles can really be created his experience, Andreae has drawn a conclusion: leave small drops that only 100 to 200ml t h r o u g h atomisation." With this, the earth's thermostat alone. would have to be sprayed for the Neukermans stirs the old question In 2006, when his colleague Paul Crutzen pleaded cloud effect, instead of 30 litres per about the scientist's responsibility. in favour of exploring solar protection through sulphur ship and per second. This would Can he fall back on the position of aerosols and of carrying out experiments, Andreae save a lot of energy. "I do the research: the application is could not remain silent. At that time, Crutzen's foray One of their first test set-ups is none of my business?" was a major step forward for geo-engineering. The ready in a crammed, windowless Like Ken Caldeira, Neukermans Nobel laureate lent the controversial method an aura lab. It still seems improvised: they also sees climate engineering of respectability. have converted felt pen nibs into as an emergency plan, not as a Andreae would have preferred to dissuade him from sprayers, applied an electrical substitute for the modification of publishing. "We discussed it in detail," he says. "My charge to it and vaporised water our energy production methods. argument was that it would lead to false interpretations with the help of the electrical A n d personally, he sets greater if Crutzen supported the exploration of climate field. Though the demonstration store by conventional measures for engineering. It would quickly turn into 'Nobel Prize provided usable cloud particles, climate protection. winner has a solution for the greenhouse effect.'" And upscaling it would take up far too He was the driving force when sure enough, headlines did appear along these lines. much space. 78 house owners in his c o m m u n i t y So should we immediately stop every scientific "A few m o n t h s ago we h a d of Portola Valley got together in engagement with the topic? Andreae would not a new idea," says Neukermans, 2006 to install solar panels on all go so far, but he does believe that "we should rather "and it will make the whole thing the roofs. He even says: "We cannot use our research funds to figure out how we can much, m u c h cheaper." He does depend on geo-engineering." He produce energy with less emissions and how we can not want to reveal the details. would prefer a change in climate adapt to life in a warmer world." The researcher has Patent protection—they could policies, but believes that this a long list of doubts about climate manipulation. For perhaps make m o n e y later while example, if we cool down the earth but saving the earth. However, he does do not reduce the high carbon dioxide disclose that they are working with 'supercritical' water that they ARE WE READY content in the air, the second disastrous effect of the gas will be accelerated: speed through extremely fine spray nozzles. A liquid becomes FOR TESTS IN ocean acidification. A n d what about the costs of such supercritical when the pressure and temperature are so high that THE SKY? experiments? They are obviously being underestimated significantly. At present, vapour and liquid can no longer be only the operating costs for individual distinguished. Water reaches this will only happen in the face of a technologies are being taken into account, claims remarkable state beyond 374°C tangible crisis. the latest comprehensive climate engineering study and 221 bar. published in October 2011. Funds for research and The researchers have built THE SCEPTIC development have been overlooked in the present a wooden box around the new Meinrat Andreae has a similar estimates, as have the macroeconomic costs that will apparatus. A tube leads into it and point of view. Only a cataclysmic accrue f r o m the side effects of climate experiments. an aerosol emerges f r o m it. It is aggravation, such as when extreme All in all, the verdict of the 16 scientists analysing so fine that the h u m a n eye cannot drought will jeopardise food the international status quo from the most diverse see it. However, the measuring supply, would generate enough perspectives on behalf of the German Federal Ministry devices are visible: each nozzle political will for a rethinking, says of Education and Research is sceptical. A field experiment planned by the University of Geo-engineering would Bristol (England) for autumn 2011 m a d e headlines: allow us to continue wasting our a helium balloon would pull a tube 1km above an fossil resources a n d passing on abandoned military base in Sculthorpe in eastern the consequences to the coming England. The tube would be used by the researchers generations, says Andreae. In other to spray saltwater—as a test for the next step using words, s o m e o n e w h o follows this sulphur dioxide. approach is "like a heroin addict Following protests, the British Engineering and p l a n n i n g h o w they can steal Physical Sciences Research Council postponed the better f r o m their children to feed project, initially by 6 months, declaring that other their addiction." opinions would have to be sought—for example, Is it time for geo-engineering? from environmental groups—before the experiment Some advocates of the m e t h o d could start. immediately say yes, adding that i "Experience shows that h u m a n interventions in it is high time that we got started: Atmospheric chemist Meinrat natural systems almost always go w r o n g if the system to prevent t h e icecap on t h e Andreae believes that w e risk behaves in a complex m a n n e r or demonstrates a chaos N o r t h Pole f r o m dwindling any chaos with climate engineering. dynamics that we have only partly understood," says further, to ensure the survival of Andreae. Ecology has several instances of this. For polar bears, to introduce Plan B example, the case of the Javan m o n g o o s e (Herpestes to h u m a n k i n d . The m a j o r i t y of javanicus), a cat-like predator that was introduced researchers are m o r e cautious. to islands like Hawaii to combat rat infestations (see They engage in intense discussions also the report on the following pages). It h a d limited about fundamental questions, success: the m o n g o o s e h u n t s during the day, but the about t h e p r o a n d cons of a prey that they were appointed to catch favours the technical remedy for the climate. night. Hence, the m o n g o o s e decimated the indigenous bird, snake a n d lizard populations instead of the rats. Mistakes while playing with the climate can have THERE IS NO even more serious consequences. A n d r e a e outlines a scenario: Let us TURNING BACK assume that h u m a n k i n d starts d i m m i n g the sun's rays. If it still continues getting FROM HERE. w a r m e r on earth, we would not be able to decide M e a n w h i l e , o n e t h i n g is whether it was because of natural variations in certain. That with each conference the average global t e m p e r a t u r e or d u e to t h e that fails to set limits on t h e anthropogenic greenhouse effect not yet adequately emissions of g r e e n h o u s e gases, offset by the shading. The engineers w o u l d then with each year that passes by probably r e c o m m e n d p u m p i n g even m o r e particles without h u m a n k i n d m o d i f y i n g its into the atmosphere. Things could soon b e c o m e energy p r o d u c t i o n m e t h o d s , the uncontrollable since there would be n o immediate prophets of d o o m will find m o r e reaction; this is what can h a p p e n with complex sympathetic ears f o r their systems that are pushed too m u c h in one direction. apparently glad tidings: that we And backing out of climate engineering would can control the situation with the not be a simple matter once such solutions have help of technology. been employed. Even after several years of artificially cooling the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide would • • • GEO editor K L A U S B A C H M A N N still be rising. If, one day, we stop d i m m i n g the was impressed with Ken Caldeira's sun's rays, the temperatures on the earth will rise institute. The building, which produces 70 per cent less carbon dioxide than other significantly within a s h o r t time. Ecosystems similar structures, is comfortable even would not have the t i m e to adapt, a n d they without an air-conditioner, a ubiquitous would collapse. fixture everywhere else in California.
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