My philosophical Investigation
on Solar Radiation Management
Feel that it is time to put some of my thoughts and findings on paper concerning Solar Radiation Management (SRM) in Europe after having contacted some experts on this exciting, but weird and frightening topic.
In general it will not show any breaktrough, however it could lead to a new way of thinking for the near futur.
When people fear government, there is tyranny
When government fear people, there is liberty
David Keith, Climatologist
Had made some contacts with Dr. David Keith, climatologist from the Calgary University for asking him: what are they spraying? He kindly answered me: that spraying of chemicals in the air is officially not done as of high and uncontrollable environmental risks and lack of global legislation. He /his university has received $$ from the Bill Gates Foundation subsiding on climate research and he stated that this item is fully open to the public.
He is also the person who said during a presentation at the AAAS conference in San Diego that 10 million tons of aluminium per annum would be effective for temperature control of our climate, however that statement was never written down.
From the internet took a copy of a very well-written presentation or testimony that David Keith gave to the Energy Environment Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology on February 4, 2010;
Topic : Research needs for Solar Radiation Management
Some highlights or statements from that presentation:
– SRM is cheap and can act quickly to cool the planet, but it introduces novel environmental
and security risks and can -at best- only partially mask the environmental impacts of
elevated carbon dioxide.
– because of the serious and legitimate concerns raised by the enormous leverage SRM
technologies grant us over the global climate, I think it is crucial that development of these technologies be managed in a way that is as transparent as possible. I therefore do no
commercial or proprietary work on SRM.
– SRM has three essential characteristics: it is cheap, fast and imperfect. Long established
estimates show that SRM could offset this century’s global-average temperature rise a
few hundred times more cheaply than achieving the same cooling by emission cuts.
This because such a tiny mass is required: a few grams of sulfate particles in the
stratosphere can offset the radiative forcing of a ton of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
At a few $1000 a ton for aerosol delivery to the stratosphere that adds up to a figure
in the order of $10 billion dollars per year to provide a cooling that -however crudely-
counteracts the heating from adoubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
– This low price tag is attractive, but raises the risks of single groups acting alone of facile
cheerleading that promotes exclusive reliance on SRM.
– SRM can alter the global climate within months – as shown by the 1991 eruption of
Mt.Pinatubo, which cooled the globe about 0,5 C in less than a year. In contrast, because
of the carbon cycle’s inertia, even a massive program of emission cuts or carbon dioxide
removal will take many decades to discernibly slow global warming.
– because SRM is cheap, even a small country could act alone, a fact that poses hard and
novel challenges for international security.
– field tests will be needed , such as experiments generating and tracking stratospheric
aerosols to block sunlight and dispersing sea-salt aerosols to brighten marine clouds.
Decades of upper atmosphere research has produced a mass of relevant science. But,
except for a recent ill-conceived Russian test, there has been no filed tests of SRM.
– there has been no dedicated government research funding available for SRM anywhere
in the world; though, a few programs for have begun in Europe in the past few months.
– it is widely assumed, for example, that a suitable distribution of stratospheric sulfate
aerosols can be produced by releasing SO2 in the stratosphere, but new simulations
of aerosols micro-physics suggest the resultant aerosol size distribution would be skewed
to large particles that are relatively ineffective. Several aerosol compositons and delivery
methods may offer a way around this problem, but choosing between them and
assessing their environmental impacts will require small-scale in-situ testing.
– at one extreme, a state might simply decide that avoiding climate-change impacts
on its people takes precedence over environmental concerns of SRM and begin
injecting sulfur into the stratosphere, with no prior risk assessment or international
consultation. If this were a small state, it could quickly be stopped by great-power
intervention. If it were a major state, that might not be possible.
Hope the above statements gave the flavor to read the full testimony of David Keith; his message is very clear:
he likes to run trials, is afraid that some small countries/groups do spraying on their own, he is strongly in favor of sulfur injections and advocates for international collaboration, if spraying has officially to start!
Sulfur or sulfate aerosol injections
A lot of climatologists refer to the eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo whereby a lot of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and ashes were released into the atmosphere. Building on that item, one could inject pure sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere, but a much more elegant way, technically, economically and psychologically will be the use of sulfur-based liquids like DMS (dimethyl sulfide) or DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) or its derivates as those products are considered as natural products released by phytoplankton from the oceans and so enterering into the atmosphere. However, the yearly quantity is not sufficient to have an impact on SRM, so one could increase the amount of those products by just spraying them into the stratosphere. On top and specially DMSO is miscible with organic solvents (kerosene?)
DMS is the most natural product which oxidizes rapidly to DMSO, when released into the air thru the presence of oxygen and later on it gets to SO2 and SO3 with water in the stratosphere to acids. However the quantities, as David Keith indicated, have to be very small, so the acid will not immediately dissolve the aluminium built spraying airplanes.
Kerosene or jetfuel contain some sulfur in a quantity lower then 0,3%, which by its combustion will emit SO2, apparently not enough to generate an impact on SRM.
DMS, DMSO and its derivates are miscible with organic solvents ( 1 – 3% to kerosene?), so
one could rapidly increase the amount of necessary SO2 to the stratosphere to become more effective for SRM just by adding to the jet fuel.
So technically, such small addition could be feasible, economically no problems as those products are very cheap. Psychologically it would be a great advantage as one could consider that, thru SRM, the global temperature would be controlled or decreased by a natural based product from the oceans, not toxic.The only step that mankind does, by spraying it into the stratosphere, is to increase the amount of final SO2 and as such adding it to what the oceans gives us on a daily base. So no toxic chemicals for SRM!
Have asked a commercial pilot-friend if being a pilot, you control the quality of the kerosene you take on board: NO! You have to rely on what is delivered , no certificate of quality, but only sign off the quantity. Have tried feedback from ExxonMobil on kerosene certificate of quality : confidential information, not to be released!
Secondly and still using DMS or DMSO and if not blended into the kerosene, DMS may-be a good candidate to spray simultaniously just after the engines into the hot exhaust gases to become transformed into SO2; DMSO will solidify under +18C, so will not be good for separate spraying!
Now assuming that DMS or DMSO is and/or can blended into kerosine of some airplanes, commercial or military, it could explain easily that on a nice day you can see trails which disappear within 5 minutes (no DMS added!) whereas others, at the same time, will have trails lasting for hours! Again and according to our pilot-friend: it depends on the height of flying, the wind on that height combined with its humidity, so various conditions may-be possible to generate long-lasting trails.
According to David Keith statements: SRM is easy and cheap; therefore the use of powder-spraying generating sulfate aerosols would be of very low priority. It is technically more challenging and powders may fall too quickly towards the earth. For example bariumsulfate has a density of 4,5, so won’t be very long lasting in the stratosphere, whereas SO2 and/or SO3 particles in water will continue to remain up high.
However , SO2 and SO3 once getting down into the earth’s atmosphere will be highly responsable for acid rains and by that action attack our plants and trees substantially!
German Think Tanks
Back from the chemistry and assumptions to the political world of Think tanks.
Newsweek, the US magazine, published on July 12, 2010 a 3-page article called » Green Retreat » on environmental issues and was citing a certain Dr. Oliver Geden :
« another emerging area of innovation is climate engineering such as manipulation of cloud cover and artificial means of reflecting heat back into space! »
Geden (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik)was presenting his paper on: « What comes after the 2 degrees Target? » and by that he meant: if we are not able to meet the agreed 2 degrees C temperature rise (UNFCCC) by 2050, what will Europe start to do?
So contacted him to ask his opinion and to investigate if he might be knowledgeable about SRM in Europe and if SRM trials were already done and by whom? Geden being a politician on energy- and climate politics in Europe rapidly answered that he was not at all an expert in geo-engineering and advised to contact the Ecologic Institute, another Think Tank on climate issues in Europe. According our son Marcel, environmental consultant in Europe working closely with th EU, the Ecologic Institute is a highly reliable organisation.
Dr. Ralph Bodle from Ecologic Institute is a Coordinator Ecologic Legal Senior Fellow or in a lay-man’s language: a lawyer!
He answered within 24 hours prior to his holidays at 03.00 am! To the best of my knowledge,
« There are no geoengineering field experiments of the scale you described. Although it has become
a big issue in the science community, there are no » global plans for spraying chemicals in the sky in order to reduce temperature » as yet.
As for experiments, there was an ocean fertilisation expriment last year (LOHAFEX) that sparked reactions and a still on-going debate under two major treaties. I have heard of a very small scale Russian experiment in solar radiation management, the results of which were published.
Apart from this, to my knowledge there is academic research at a level much below field experiments. The European Commission is funding academic research as part of their FP7 programme, and there are a few articles and projects at academic institutions.
There is no one organisation in charge of the potential geoengineering efforts – in fact, this is an issue I am currently writing about. «
Being now even more curious, tried to get Bodle on the phone and just got him after his one week trip to Canada; asked if he knew David Keith yes, but didnot want to admit having visiting Keith (Calgary university) .
Again Bodle stated that he is not a chemist or a scientist but a political lawer; that to the best of his knowledge no spraying is done , however should spraying be done in Europe on a highly confidential base, then he is not allowed to divulge any information !
He admitted that he has to make a study on the legality of sulfur injection into the atmosphere for the German government which may suit later for the European Commission. That study to be targetted for finalization by end of 2010 will be open to the public!
Tackled him by saying that chemical spraying has been done in Europe and especially in the UK between 1940 and 1979 by releasing chemicals (cadmium based) and microbes to the population, which criminal process was finally brought to public by the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker early 2000 and published in the Guardian. Bodle thanked for the information and said he may use that it .
On June 28 2010, there was an interesting meeting called « Climate Talk » hosted by the Ecologic Institute concerning Research on Geo-engineering.
Some highlights or statements from that report:
– or cool the atmosphere (solar radiation management), e.g. through sulphur injection into
– all of these measures are currently being considered or tested and are subject to large
uncertainties and potential risks that can potentially already occur during the
– to date, there is no regulation for geo-engineering in place; instead, a number of relevant
general principles and rules exist, e.g. environmental liability law or space law.
– he observed an often underlying assumption in the US debates that the climate
challenge will be manageable only if geo-engineering is part of the plan.
– the challenge therefore would be with measures that need to be undertaken in « real world »
conditions, if small-scale experiments are not sufficient.
– most tests which have been conducted thus far have illustrated the dimension of the
unknown as well as the uncertainties. In order to evaluate geo-engineering research, she
supports using criteria relating to impacts on human beings and the environmant.
– moreover, the lack of critical debates on new and risky technologies was brought up
including the different perceptions of the USA and Europe on such issues.
– as a first step, national research rules seem to be useful; such rules would then need
to be part of an international consensus. Germany and the EU face the challenge of
influencing the activities of other large countries.
In the old days propaganda was used as a kind of weapon to influence people on those items, normally bad for the population, as a mean to get them familiar with the « goodness » of it. Joseph Goebbels was an expert on psychological propaganda and apparently it works well in those days.
So assuming that Solar Radiation Management is already been done or still going-on a daily base, then the so-called authorities, countries, organisations or foundations need to come up with a nice story, that SRM is for our well-being, not at all dangerous and will guaranty a safer planet.
One interesting story may-be, as written previously, the spraying of sulfur containing aerosols based on natural products from the oceans or even from volcano eruptions (also natural), so not at all harmful to the global population.
Next was an interesting article from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) staff and others from renowned universities printed in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology saying:
« Global Mortality Attributable to Aircraft Cruise Emissions »
there is nothing special about that statement, although there is a big why! During decades it has been said that airplanes were safe to human life on earth, although there was air pollution, but not responsable for any death toll.
Now, out of a sudden, MIT comes up with a serious mortality figure of 8000 people per year, in a period that lots of people are concerned about trails. Gives the gut feeling that we are being prepared to learn more about the day to day visible trails, but again not harmful to people, as in the so-called early days we had already 8000 death year, so nothing to do with non-official solar radiation management programs.
A last example of so-called « dormant » propaganda is the Hughes Aircraft patent nr. 5003186 from 1990,which speaks about the use of Welsbach materials based on aluminium oxide, thorium oxide and other metal oxides for spraying into the stratosphere to reflect the sunlight. A lot of action groups at present use those data as the products being sprayed and being responsable for damage to nature afterwards.
True or not true, however one has to bear in mind that what is written in a patent as being the materials and/or technologies of choice to get a patent granted, are not always the same materials and technologies used in real life. The inventors are by no-way idiots to tell the real world in a patent what they will be doing or using.
As David Keith once stated that 10 million tons of aluminium will be needed on a yearly base to fight global warming, spraying such an amount of aluminium-oxide powder within the kerosine from airplanes will be a hell of a job. Again have the gut feeling that the authorities like the fact that the action groups believe in the Hughes patent data, sothat they can do something totally different without be tracked down!
Time will tell us!
We will take care of You, trust us!
We will comfort you in your futur life with a pleasant controlled climate, no more to worry
about sunshine or rain, energy bills or UV radiation.
We will comfort you by telling when to go shopping, taking the children to school, having you nicely seated in front of your TV watching soaps and football.
We will comfort you by constantly monitoring your health, letting you know when you have to take your pills, go to the toilet and to bed.
We will comfort you even when things might go wrong as we have developped a huge variety of drugs and vaccins to keep you as happy as you wish.
We will take care of You, please trust us!
Frightening or science fiction? No, a lot of people live and work already like that on a daily base!
So wake up before it is too late! Up to the reader to find her/his own « We » from a large palette of authorities, foundations or organisations.
At the end it is still the same old song: control of the world or in modern terms: Geopolitics!
The USA need a lot of energy and oil and they are ready to buy the oil at reasonable cost and conditions from their so-called friends , the Saudi’s. Was always told by US colleagues: when we are not allowed to buy oil, then we just will take it! Example the Kuwait war and the Iraq invasion.
In the near futur electric cars will be coming with batteries built on lithium technologies for long lasting performance. The USA knew a long time ago that Afghanistan had the largest reserve of lithium, easy to explore; however only announced it to the public by this summer 2010.
Everybody knows about the Russians blackmailing their old friends and new customers in West-Europe by opening/closing/opening the natural gas pipeline from Siberia whenever they « like » it!
China « loves » their old neighbour Tibet; one must be crazy to love those rocks, however it is not anymore a big secret that those rocks contain huge amounts of heavy metals, including uranium. You thought may-be that the Chinese built the railway to Lhasa only for tourists?
International conferences like Kyoto, Copenhagen and Cancun to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide! Never any solid agreement as the multinationals and specially the oil companies don’t like less carbon dioxide as it means: selling less petrol. So keep on driving, flying and so on, as SRM will be the futur cheap and quick way to balance global warming!
Coming back to Solar Radiation Management: the USA have officially stated that by the year 2025 they want to be able to control our global climate, so why to wait for official legislation and not doing « some limited trail-trials » just for testing the principle of world reputated climatologists and other scientists ideas? The majority of people on this globe do believe that trails are absolutely normal in nowadays sky!
Summary and Conclusion
Every government, university, academy of science, foundation, military organisation and so on have written sound plans to recommend Solar Radiation Management once the global temperature rises too much. You can easily find those plans on the internet!
Officially there is no active work done in the stratosphere for spraying chemicals, however between the lines you hear that even the world experts gather that « something » is going on.
In the past of my career that « something » was called: a feasibility study and you could do whatever you wanted to do for a very long time without the need for giving any explication!
There seems to be a clear trend to opt for sulfur injection into the stratosphere as the cheapest , fastest and cleanest way of creating trails as mentionned in the text above . People will be told that sulfur injection is natural and not harmful and happening every 10 years by volcano eruptions.
Attempts will be made in Europe to establish a proposal for legislation of sulfur injection with Germany being selected as taking the lead in the EU. May-be we will learn more about our present daily trails in 2011?
I am finished with my findings and thoughts on Solar Radition Management; hope you it gave you a different perspective of what is going on and please continue to dialogue on that topic. Mother Earth is clever enough to care of Her good self and we, people on this beautiful globe , should pamper Her and leave Her in perfect shape as a natural and futur playground for our children and grand children!
Special thanks to my much beloved Ellen for dragging me into this intriguing, interesting, crazy, but also frightening world of Solar Radiation Management!
Wikipedia: solar radiation management, DMS, DMSO, Claw hypothesis, acid rain