By Amy Kraft
Posting in Environment
Scientists want to spray titanium dioxide into the stratosphere to counteract the effects of global warming.
Chemical engineer Peter Davidson is championing an idea to spray titanium dioxide, an ingredient in sunscreen, into the sky to reflect some of the sun’s rays back into space to cool Earth.
The plan is to carry the nontoxic chemical up to the stratosphere in high-altitude balloons and then spray the particles into the stratosphere.
National Geographic News reports:
"About three million tons of titanium dioxide—spread into a layer around a millionth of a millimeter thick—would be enough to offset the warming effects caused by a doubling of today's atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, according to project leader and chemical engineer Peter Davidson."
This is just another in a series of geoengineering projects scientists have come up with to combat global warming. But this one, Davidson say, has a good chance of working out right.
To show how this method might work, Davidson points to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. When this volcano erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it sprayed millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. The sulfur dioxide created a layer of sulfuric acid in the air “that reduced global temperatures by about a quarter of a degree Fahrenheit (half a degree Celsius) for two years,” National Geographic News reports.
Unlike sulfuric acid, which causes ozone depletion, titanium dioxide has no known harmful effects.
And the method devised for getting the titanium oxide up there, a balloon-dispersal system, is cheaper than previously thought up plans, which involved rockets or aircrafts.
“Project leader Davidson estimates that his balloon dispersal system would cost between U.S. $800 million and $950 million a year, plus $2 billion to $3 billion annually for the titanium dioxide,” National Geographic News says.
Of course, we still don’t know what effect any method of climate intervention will have on the planet. But Davidson doesn't see his idea being deployed for at least a few decades so there's no need to worry. In the meantime, it's probably best to wear sunscreen on those hot days.
Photo via flickr/Michael Kirwan
Jun 3, 2012
The idea that the impact of the ever growing human population is having adverse effects on the enviroment is one that I can agree with. The problem with humans is that we rely on technology to fix problems that we cause by using technology.
Why not make all cars out of carbon fibers created from CO2. The cars would be lighter and use less fuel, and they would be safer in traffic too. We would get more free oxygen. I wonder how much CO2 there is locked in carbonated drinks worldwide. And I think some large thin solarmirrors in space would be much safer. They could be deployed and removed depending on need, and they could all focus on solar powerstations on the moon, and sustain living quarters there.
would be enough to offset the warming effects caused by a doubling of today???s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, according to project leader and chemical engineer Peter Davidson.??? But the CO2 levels have doubled with no published measurable effect on global temperature. All we need is some vast global experiment producing the usual unintended consequences.
If this worked (and there are bound to be horrible unintended consequences that others highlight) then it may be able to control temperature of earth, however it would do nothing to stop Ocean Acidification that is destroying corral reefs and who know what other problems. We often overlook the importance of the health of our Oceans and its bearing on life on land. Sylvia Earle has a great TED talk on this.
Man has meddled with the environment in many ways that were not as effective as predicted. Titanium dioxide might work but then it is hard to put it only where heat is too high and not in places where heat is normal. The poles are warming faster than the equatorial regions. My guess that using titanium dioxide will work to a point and make a change that may not be beneficial. It is like importing cane frogs to deal with pests only to have the cane frogs become a greater pest.
Anthropogenic climate change has one cause - people in quantities that alter biolocial and climatic balances. It is also a self-limiting problem. We'll either learn to control our population and it's by-products and return natural balances similar to those experienced by our ancestors, or we'll continue on until the lack of balance creates a condition that limits or destroys our population. Spraying even relatively inert chemicals in the air even it worked perfectly, is only a temporary solution limited by the availability of the chemical and its related economics - and we still have not affected any resolution for the source of the problem. All farming activities that humans manage are necessarily managed such that the farmed species population is controlled at optimum densities for maximum efficiency and minimal risks - to prevent population collapses from disease, food and resource competition and related aggression. Why is it so hard for the same humans to understand that their own human populations are in no less need of management to maintain optimum population to resource ratios - as the species they farm?
Oh, please don't. No one ever sees every contingency in endeavors like this and the fallout could be devastating. It's best we just leave well enough alone and try to fix it through less "quick fix" methods.
Someone at Nat Geographic needs to review their units conversion. With 180 degrees F between freezing and boiling and only 100 degrees C in the same range, it should read 1/2 degree F (1/4 degree C). Sloppy. What else is wrong?
Easy to spray tons of material into the air, how will you remove it when you realize it is killing the earth and all those that inhabit it? Another cure that is worse than the disease. So how much is the cut these climate fear mongers will make?
"titanium dioxide has *no known* harmful effects." "no known" (yet?) is the key here. What about long term effects? What about reduced solar power (and all forms of life that depend on it)?? And even though it does prove to be unharmful, better get your math right and not spray too much TiO2, I'm not sure an ice age is a better alternative...
I'm not remotely a scientist or engineer, but I wonder about the unintended effects of spraying a protective shield of titanium dioxide around the earth. I'm not keen on breathing or eating it.
From the people who sold you pointless carbon credits for a huge profit comes the next big global warming scam. Since they cannot get the smart developed nations like China and India to pay for carbon credits they have a new scam for the gullible westerners. How much you want to bet this guy is on Al Gores payroll. How much do you want to bet a company owned by Gore gets the contract? Just like the carbon offset scam.
The so-called chemtrails are pollution, but not anything suspicious. When hot exhaust is thrown into cold air, a cloud forms from the water vapor. Hundreds of private and university atmospheric test projects around the world would detect anything unusual. Thousands of ground-based chemical testing projects around the world would detect something. Relax. Worry more about the pollution being sprayed out of jet tailpipes than about any world chemical mind control plot.
You folks are Smart Planet must not look at the sky very often because millions of people all over the world are spotting CHEMTRAILS almost every day in the skies over their homes. Excellent books and documentary films backed by solid research have been out for years on this phenomenon, and there are literal "smoking guns" criss-crossing our skies almost every day, but you write as if nothing unusual is happening. Want to see some pics of chemtrail geoengineering in action? Check out my Facebook Photo Albums or just google search "What In The World Are They Spraying?" https://www.facebook.com/max.mogren/photos
CO2 levels have not doubled yet. They've increased about 40% from pre-industrial levels, 280 ppmv - 395 ppmv. At current rates of emission it's estimated they will have doubled around the year 2070. So far temperatures have changed as expected with increased CO2.
Oh I do so agree with you on this. Our planet can SAFELY accommodate 2 billion people. We are now pushing 7 billion with projections of 12 billion in the next 20 years or so. Everyone in the free world chastised China for their population control method of 1 child per family, but China was smart enough to know that when people are tripping over each other and food supplies are short, it's time to do something about it. Until we get it in our heads that squirting out kids every year is the right thing to do, then our problems are going to get much much worse very quickly.
The idea that the impact of the ever growing human population is having adverse effects on the enviroment is one that I can agree with. The problem with humans is that we rely on technology to fix problems that we cause by using technology. I would certainly be nervous if a group of leaders decide to cull human population to a managable size. What criteria would be used to choose who lives and who dies?
For 40 years I have listened to a parade of people and charities tell me the people of Africa are starving. For over 60 years the developed western nations of the world have pumped massive amounts of food and cash in Africa and all we still hear is PEOPLE ARE STARVING. Well if it is so bad there I ask you. How has the population gone from 200 million post WW II to over 1.2 billion in 2011? Why do UN projections have the population of Africa exceeding Asia by 2030? Why do UN projections have over 30 percent of the world population in Africa by 2030? Would it be the best thing for the planet if the western nations stopped all of the food aid and allowed mother nature to clean up our mess in Africa?
You lose crediblility when you sound like a crotchety old man on the porch yelling at the neighborhood kids on the lawn. Are you on board with all of the coal-fired power plants popping up around China? Do you actually dispute that things like that are bad for the planet?
What about all the people and corporations who have invested in solar panels? If a portion of the solar energy is being reflected back into space, then so are the cost savings they were assured of when they installed the panels. I guess air conditioners working a bit less offsets this, but only in places where the solar energy is being used for cooling.
Mad Max is correct in that the pollution from jetplane exhaust is having a unintended ameliorative effect on CO2 climate warming as was observed during the 3 days grounding of the entire US commercial air fleet (and many around the world too due to disruption of international travel). As Wiki summarizes: During this period, an increase in diurnal temperature variation of over 1 ??C (1.8 ??F) was observed in some parts of the U.S. The effect, called global dimming, is due to aerosol particles that directly reflect sunlight back to space, or act as nuclei that seed cloud formation. And in earlier times sulphur dioxide which reflects infrared back into space. All manner of industry, volcanoes and bushfires contribute to this but planes make a fairly big contribution due to their emission at such height.
Oh god, not another contrails theorist. That was proved a hoax years and years ago. Do some more research and stay away from the contrail tin-hat bunch. You may get a little red-faced, but just deal with it.....
It's not at all a question about who lives and who dies. It's a question about not having more children than two for every couple. When You have had Your children then You will be sterilized. No one has the right to have more children at the expense of others. Taking normal deathrate, accidents and illnesses into account, the population will slowly decrease. There is no need to kill anyone, or decide who lives or who dies. That's just a populistic and provocative statement that some people use to create an antagonistic discussion.
The population problem is easily solvable; stop subsidizing poverty. The problem is that we're not capable of stomaching the human tragedy that would soon ensue in the 3rd world. Plus, poverty has become an industry unto itself, with too many people and countries sustaining themselves under a permanent state of crisis.
the track record on these things is atrocious. There are so many instances of ecological disasters because of brilliant solutions to problems when we're convinced the ecosystem is incapable of dealing with things.
...which expands it's coal-fired electrical grid by the size of Great Britain's [i]every single year[/i] is to purposely deploy even more pollution? Brilliant.
However, one aircraft transporting hundreds of people from point A to Point B in a straight line will consume less fuel than if all those people had driven their vehicles, which would also be a lot more mileage traveled. So do away with those evil aircraft and their evil contrails and what you have is more people driving more vehicles more miles spewing out a lot more pollution....
...about all the damage now being attributed to the chemical "dispersants" used in the wake of the Gulf oil spill. All too frequently in these scenarios, nature is far more effective and efficient and cleanup than people are, and deploys automatically.