Solution to Global Warming: Pump Sulphur Into Stratosphere
December 23, 2009
By Mark Whittington
Nathan Myhrvold is a former technology officer for Microsoft who has found his own company, Intellectual Ventures, which is involved in a number of technology development programs, including new forms of energy generation.
Nathan Myhrvold also thinks that he has found a cheap and reliable way to solve global warming, which does not involve upending and perhaps destroying the world’s economy. The global warming solution proposed by Nathan Myhvold involves running a hose up to the stratosphere with balloons and using that hose to pump out enough sulfur particles to dim the sun’s heat just enough to counteract the effects of global warming. The estimated cost would be about two hundred and fifty million dollars.
Nathan Myhrvold suggests that volcanoes and other natural processes already pump out sulfur into the stratosphere and that his scheme, if adopted, would increase that amount by only one percent. Nathan Myhrvold therefore thinks that there would not be any unintended consequences (like starting a new ice age.)
Nathan Myhrvold’s anti global warming scheme is intriguing, even for those people (increasingly most people) who doubt that man caused global warming is actually real. The climate gate scandal involving leaked emails suggests that the data that supports the idea of man caused global warming has been doctored to some extent. Thus there is increasing resistance to the idea of arbitrarily cutting back on carbon emissions before clean energy technology is mature enough to take the place of fossil fuels, thus causing wrenching disruptions in economic growth and personal lifestyles.
One might suggest that Nathan Myhrvold’s anti global warming scheme might be part of a more rational solution to climate change, if it is a problem at all. The idea would be consist of the following.
Drop all ideas of government mandated reductions in carbon emissions.
Fund “clean energy” technology that would include not only the politically correct wind and solar, but nuclear, fusion, and space based solar energy.
Conduct a scientific study of the Earth climate, though this time with everything being above board, with real peer review, and with dissenters being allowed to offer input and criticism.
If there does turn out to be a man made global warming crisis, execute Nathan Myhrvold’s anti global warming scheme while the world more gradually, and more sustainably transfers from a fossil fuel economy to a “clean energy” economy.
There are, of course, several problems, some political, with Nathan Myhrvold’s anti global warming scheme.
First, the environmentalists will react negatively to any attempt to basically terraform the planet we happen to be living on, even if it is for a beneficial purpose and using a process that occurs in nature.
Second, certain politicians will not like it because as benign as Nathan Myhrvold’s anti global warming scheme would be to the world economy, it provides them with less opportunities to expand government control over peoples’ lives.
Third, there might be unintended consequences. For one thing, the energy produced by the sun undergoes fluxuations. That is one reason the Earth has been in a cooling period since 1998. What if the sun cooled unexpectedly while the Nathan Myhrvold’s anti global warming scheme was being executed? Can the amount of sulfur be adjusted accordingly to prevent unexpected drops in temperature?
Still Nathan Myhrvold’s anti global warming scheme is an interesting idea that ought to be added to the debate over climate change.