Can We Stop Modern-Day Mad Scientists?

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Geoengineering researchers worry about "mad-scientists" just going ahead and doing it, discussing the recent dump of iron in the ocean by Russ George:


Pouplare Mechanics: Can We Stop Modern-day Mad Scientists?



The New Yorker recently called George the first geo-vigilante,"implying he fought for justice when the system failed us. But was he frustrated in his pursuit of knowledge or just exploiting a loophole?


"Scientists still aren't sure what they can and can't do," Blackstock says. "You do end up in cases where somebody says, you know what, I'm just gonna go do it, even within the U.S. What Russ George has done is taken that to an extreme. A big extreme."


"Ten years ago everything in geoengineering looked like a mad-scientist idea," he continues. "Frankly, I still wake up some days and see this stuff and I go, seriously—we must be nuts. I mean, spraying aerosols into the upper atmosphere to cool the planet—this is terraforming. This is science fiction. And yet it is really a question... of how they go about it, not the idea itself."


Blackstock suggests two criteria for judging geoengineers. First, is their experimental design solid? And second, are they working toward the public good? (Caldeira advocates the classic "follow the money" rule for the second point.)


In George's case, the risks were small: Even though he dumped 200 times more iron than any previous experiment, Caldeira says, George's experiment would have to be done at a much, much larger scale to have any noticeable effect on the atmosphere. It wasn't particularly useful as a proof-of-concept test, either. Blackstock says: "There ain't no way that they're collecting enough data to make an experiment of this scale worthwhile, with that small number of people and resources."


As for following the money, George is a self-professed scientist, but most publications call him a businessman, and he stood to make a profit from ocean fertilization with carbon credits. Ostensibly, geoengineering could work toward global public good as well, if it manages to offset climate change without doing more harm in the process.


And that's why some researchers worry about Bond villains and billionaires going rogue. Whether geoengineering can really combat climate change—and do so without horrific unintended consequences—is an ongoing, contentious debate. But it's one that a mad scientist with enough money could circumvent.
Content from External Source

The article is interesting enough as is. But I think fro a conspiracy theory point of view, this type of international outcry from the science community is pretty good evidence that if there's a covert geoengineering project going on, then the scientists don't know anything about it. And seeing as that's highly unlikely, I think it's pretty good evidence that there is no covert geoengineering project.

If you think otherwise, then I suggest you subscribe to the Geoengineering Google group mailing list, and just follow the conversations for a few months.
https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/geoengineering

Clearly the people there are the worlds leading geoengineering researchers, and yet they all seem totally unaware of any secret SRM project. They all talk about it (with varying degrees of urgency) in the future tense.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
Geoengineering researchers worry about "mad-scientists" just going ahead and doing it, discussing the recent dump of iron in the ocean by Russ George:


Pouplare Mechanics: Can We Stop Modern-day Mad Scientists?



The New Yorker recently called George the first geo-vigilante,"implying he fought for justice when the system failed us. But was he frustrated in his pursuit of knowledge or just exploiting a loophole?


"Scientists still aren't sure what they can and can't do," Blackstock says. "You do end up in cases where somebody says, you know what, I'm just gonna go do it, even within the U.S. What Russ George has done is taken that to an extreme. A big extreme."


"Ten years ago everything in geoengineering looked like a mad-scientist idea," he continues. "Frankly, I still wake up some days and see this stuff and I go, seriously—we must be nuts. I mean, spraying aerosols into the upper atmosphere to cool the planet—this is terraforming. This is science fiction. And yet it is really a question... of how they go about it, not the idea itself."


Blackstock suggests two criteria for judging geoengineers. First, is their experimental design solid? And second, are they working toward the public good? (Caldeira advocates the classic "follow the money" rule for the second point.)


In George's case, the risks were small: Even though he dumped 200 times more iron than any previous experiment, Caldeira says, George's experiment would have to be done at a much, much larger scale to have any noticeable effect on the atmosphere. It wasn't particularly useful as a proof-of-concept test, either. Blackstock says: "There ain't no way that they're collecting enough data to make an experiment of this scale worthwhile, with that small number of people and resources."


As for following the money, George is a self-professed scientist, but most publications call him a businessman, and he stood to make a profit from ocean fertilization with carbon credits. Ostensibly, geoengineering could work toward global public good as well, if it manages to offset climate change without doing more harm in the process.


And that's why some researchers worry about Bond villains and billionaires going rogue. Whether geoengineering can really combat climate change—and do so without horrific unintended consequences—is an ongoing, contentious debate. But it's one that a mad scientist with enough money could circumvent.
Content from External Source

The article is interesting enough as is. But I think fro a conspiracy theory point of view, this type of international outcry from the science community is pretty good evidence that if there's a covert geoengineering project going on, then the scientists don't know anything about it. And seeing as that's highly unlikely, I think it's pretty good evidence that there is no covert geoengineering project.

If you think otherwise, then I suggest you subscribe to the Geoengineering Google group mailing list, and just follow the conversations for a few months.
https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/geoengineering

Clearly the people there are the worlds leading geoengineering researchers, and yet they all seem totally unaware of any secret SRM project. They all talk about it (with varying degrees of urgency) in the future tense.
They are aware and forewarned now . . . but what if there were attempts many years ago . . . which are now just part of the background noise ?? And without it warming would be much worse than it is now . . .
 

Jay Reynolds

Senior Member.
My main opinion on this is that much of it is just theoretical scientists maintaining an income stream. They must write grant proposals and get funding for their work to keep working. If they don't they are out of the business, unemployed. These aren't basic scientists looking at small parts of big things closely, they are theoretical scientists looking at big pictures, they are "Idea Men".

So, they think of things to do, they promote ideas. In this case, they focused on a question they are personally invested as well as many others, and there is funding for this. They may also have seen the public awareness issue, of which Keith has spoken, about how if people see this sort of desperate last-ditch scenario emerging they will take carbon reduction more seriously. Their last goal may have been to exert an impetus for international regulation which is hopeless.

Keith actually has a financial motive many of the chemmies haven't even mentioned. Maybe they are blinded but Murphy could have at least looked at it.

If SRM worked, Keith loses.
If SRM failed, Keith wins.

If you look closely enough at what they actually propose, however, the artillery barrages, jack-in-the beanstalk towers, space umbrellas and even the SRM, there are tremendous efforts which would have to take place before they could even be tried out. Like Jazzy said, wartime efforts, but the world is pretty broke right now, none of these have any real-life cause or reason to happen now. Keith also mentions this, Patrick Minnis told me about the pie-in-the-sky SRM over a decade ago, which falls short by a fleet of planes that don't exist.

All of this has probably blown up in the promoters face especially after the chemmies and other luddites got hold of it. They probably over-reached as we are all apt to do and now they are demonized as mad by some, literally threatened by others. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the main figures drop out altogether in the face of it.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
Should mad scientists be stopped . . . ? As long as they don't break laws or treaties how can they be stopped . . .? How dire is the world's situation anyway . . . how long do we have before an environmental crisis or tipping point?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, Keith's thrust in encouraging research into SRM seems to be to ultimately demonstrate it's a bad idea. Ken Caldeira likewise.

But I think another thing the "chemmies" (and George) miss is just how incredibly complex this is. It's not a simple "add some pollution and reduce temperature" equation. There are multiple overlapping feedback cycles and semi-chaotic systems of dubious equilibrium. Just about all we are sure about right now is that added CO2 increases radiative forcing. So just about the only thing we can say with confidence would be a good idea for maintaining the status quo would be to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere back to historical levels (or at least stop increasing it). Any thing else, any actual geoengineering, is a huge gamble with potentially catastrophic consequences that are currently impossible to calculate.

Have a look at this article, and the comments, for Caldeira's opinion on CO2, and the complexity of the surrounding issues:
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/20...as-a-waste-dump-for-greenhouse-gas-pollution/
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
Yeah, Keith's thrust in encouraging research into SRM seems to be to ultimately demonstrate it's a bad idea. Ken Caldeira likewise.

But I think another thing the "chemmies" (and George) miss is just how incredibly complex this is. It's not a simple "add some pollution and reduce temperature" equation. There are multiple overlapping feedback cycles and semi-chaotic systems of dubious equilibrium. Just about all we are sure about right now is that added CO2 increases radiative forcing. So just about the only thing we can say with confidence would be a good idea for maintaining the status quo would be to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere back to historical levels (or at least stop increasing it). Any thing else, any actual geoengineering, is a huge gamble with potentially catastrophic consequences that are currently impossible to calculate.

Have a look at this article, and the comments, for Caldeira's opinion on CO2, and the complexity of the surrounding issues:
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/20...as-a-waste-dump-for-greenhouse-gas-pollution/
I think I have some idea of the complexity regarding ozone depletion, increasing drought potential, acidification of the oceans, etc. ; but what I fear is decision maker/s deciding Mt Pinatubo is/was the model to follow . . . we survived 20 Million Tons of SO2 . . . geoengineering would require much less . . . so as Edward Tiller said . . . Let's do it . . .
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I think I have some idea of the complexity regarding ozone depletion, increasing drought potential, acidification of the oceans, etc. ; but what I fear is decision maker/s deciding Mt Pinatubo is/was the model to follow . . . we survived 20 Million Tons of SO2 . . . geoengineering would require much less . . . so as Edward Tiller said . . . Let's do it . . .

No, he said (in 1997) let's get international agreement, and test at the 0.001 level totally openly:

https://e-reports-ext.llnl.gov/pdf/231636.pdf

We believe that research along several lines to study the deployment and operation in sub-scale
–perhaps 10^-3 of a full-scale, 1% insolation-equivalent system – of appropriate scatterers of sunlight
is justified immediately by considerations of basic technical feasibility and possible cost-to-benefit.
Summary discussions such as those sketched here can only outline the directions to consider.
However, even very preliminary estimates of performance and practicality suffice to make us
optimistic about ultimate workability and utility.


Today, our scientific knowledge and our technological capability already are likely sufficient to
provide solutions to these problems; both knowledge and capability in time-to-come will certainly
be greater. Whether exercising of present capability can be done in an internationally acceptable
way is an undeniably difficult issue, but one seemingly far simpler than securing international
consensus on near-term, large-scale reductions in fossil fuel-based energy production

especially in a world exhibiting very large geographical and cultural differences in per capita
energy use, past, present and future.


We believe that, prior to any actual deployment of any scattering system aimed at full-scale 1%
insolation modulation, completely transparent and fully international research in sub-scale
could result in public opinion conducive to a reasonable technology-based approach
to prevention of large-scale climatic failures of all types. International cooperation
in the research phase, based on complete openness, is necessary and may be
sufficient to secure the understanding and support without which any of these
approaches will fail.


The purpose of this paper is not to advocate definite solutions. It is only to augment
the scientific effort to find solutions of general acceptability and benefit.
The blame for ''bad weather'' may be too heavy for any human to bear. But, we
hope, thinking before acting might be acceptable.
Content from External Source
Pretty much what current geoengineering researchers are saying. Establish a regulatory framework, and research openly before deployment.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
No, he said (in 1997) let's get international agreement, and test at the 0.001 level totally openly:

https://e-reports-ext.llnl.gov/pdf/231636.pdf

We believe that research along several lines to study the deployment and operation in sub-scale
–perhaps 10^-3 of a full-scale, 1% insolation-equivalent system – of appropriate scatterers of sunlight
is justified immediately by considerations of basic technical feasibility and possible cost-to-benefit.
Summary discussions such as those sketched here can only outline the directions to consider.
However, even very preliminary estimates of performance and practicality suffice to make us
optimistic about ultimate workability and utility.


Today, our scientific knowledge and our technological capability already are likely sufficient to
provide solutions to these problems; both knowledge and capability in time-to-come will certainly
be greater. Whether exercising of present capability can be done in an internationally acceptable
way is an undeniably difficult issue, but one seemingly far simpler than securing international
consensus on near-term, large-scale reductions in fossil fuel-based energy production

especially in a world exhibiting very large geographical and cultural differences in per capita
energy use, past, present and future.


We believe that, prior to any actual deployment of any scattering system aimed at full-scale 1%
insolation modulation, completely transparent and fully international research in sub-scale
could result in public opinion conducive to a reasonable technology-based approach
to prevention of large-scale climatic failures of all types. International cooperation
in the research phase, based on complete openness, is necessary and may be
sufficient to secure the understanding and support without which any of these
approaches will fail.


The purpose of this paper is not to advocate definite solutions. It is only to augment
the scientific effort to find solutions of general acceptability and benefit.
The blame for ''bad weather'' may be too heavy for any human to bear. But, we
hope, thinking before acting might be acceptable.
Content from External Source
Pretty much what current geoengineering researchers are saying. Establish a regulatory framework, and research openly before deployment.
He also made other comments that might just show his real position and frustration of the politicians . . .


Best Quotes

January 30, 1998

hoover digest » 1998 no. 1 » environment
Sunscreen for Planet Earth
by Edward Teller

Yet if the politics of global warming require that "something must be done" while we still don't know whether anything really needs to be done--let alone what exactly--let us play to our uniquely American strengths in innovation and technology to offset any global warming by the least costly means possible. While scientists continue research into any global climatic effects of greenhouse gases, we ought to study ways to offset any possible ill effects.

Injecting sunlight-scattering particles into the stratosphere appears to be a promising approach. Why not do that?

http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/6791
Content from External Source
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
He also made other comments that might just show his real position and frustration of the politicians . . .


Yet if the politics of global warming require that "something must be done" while we still don't know whether anything really needs to be done--let alone what exactly--let us play to our uniquely American strengths in innovation and technology to offset any global warming by the least costly means possible. While scientists continue research into any global climatic effects of greenhouse gases, we ought to study ways to offset any possible ill effects.

Injecting sunlight-scattering particles into the stratosphere appears to be a promising approach. Why not do that?

http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/6791
Content from External Source

He also asked why not block the Straits of Gibraltar with nuclear explosions, turn the Mediterranean fresh water, flood Venice and all the Mediterranean costal cities, then blast a canal to irrigate the Sahara, so we can feed the growing world population. That does not mean he was suggesting we do it next week.

Read my quote again, then look at yours in the same context, slightly edited:


Yet if the politics of global warming require that "something must be done" while we still don't know whether anything really needs to be done--let alone what exactly--let us play to our uniquely American strengths in innovation and technology to offset any global warming by the least costly means possible. While scientists continue research into any global climatic effects of greenhouse gases, we ought to study ways to offset any possible ill effects. (Injecting sunlight-scattering particles into the stratosphere appears to be a promising approach.) Why not do that?
Content from External Source
It seems to me he is advocating that we "study ways to offset any possible ill effects". The "Why not do that" refers to research, not deployment. If something is simply "promising" then you don't do it, you study it. And as noted, he called for fully open international study.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
He also asked why not block the Straits of Gibraltar with nuclear explosions, turn the Mediterranean fresh water, flood Venice and all the Mediterranean costal cities, then blast a canal to irrigate the Sahara, so we can feed the growing world population. That does not mean he was suggesting we do it next week.

Read my quote again, then look at yours in the same context, slightly edited:


Yet if the politics of global warming require that "something must be done" while we still don't know whether anything really needs to be done--let alone what exactly--let us play to our uniquely American strengths in innovation and technology to offset any global warming by the least costly means possible. While scientists continue research into any global climatic effects of greenhouse gases, we ought to study ways to offset any possible ill effects. (Injecting sunlight-scattering particles into the stratosphere appears to be a promising approach.) Why not do that?
Content from External Source
It seems to me he is advocating that we "study ways to offset any possible ill effects". The "Why not do that" refers to research, not deployment. If something is simply "promising" then you don't do it, you study it. And as noted, he called for fully open international study.
Since Dr Teller is no longer with us we may never know. . . .I think this may be a mixed metaphor, if you will, mixing research and actionable injection operations within the same discussion. . . IMO one can take it either way. . . .
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
I'm disturbed that people think any type of geo-engineering should be done at all and is ever proposed in the first place, but I guess that in depth studying of hypothetical scenarios should be explored to at least tell us not to do it (presuming sanity prevails).
It's just the presumptive attitude of meddling arrogance that bothers me.
If there is a crisis scenario that cannot possibly be solved by other means, then we should know our options, but it seems the possibility of geo-engineering can be used as excuse to continue the bad-behaviour that led to the problem it seeks to solve in the first place, particularly by those invested in that behaviour.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I'm disturbed that people think any type of geo-engineering should be done at all and is ever proposed in the first place, but I guess that in depth studying of hypothetical scenarios should be explored to at least tell us not to do it (presuming sanity prevails).
It's just the presumptive attitude of meddling arrogance that bothers me.
If there is a crisis scenario that cannot possibly be solved by other means, then we should know our options, but it seems the possibility of geo-engineering can be used as excuse to continue the bad-behaviour that led to the problem it seeks to solve in the first place, particularly by those invested in that behaviour.

Indeed, and they are full aware of that. Look up geoengineering moral hazard
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It is also a motivation to just do it and not tell anyone . . .

No it's not. Doing it and telling people does not create a moral hazard, as you'd only do if it were too late to do something else.

It might be a motivation to do some research and not tell anyone.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
No it's not. Doing it and telling people does not create a moral hazard, as you'd only do if it were too late to do something else.

It might be a motivation to do some research and not tell anyone.
I don't know if we can determine now what someone might have thought 10 to 20 years ago . . . however, a very common concept during that era was "Let's do it now and ask for forgiveness later!!" I found it stated several times in my tenure in the government . . .

If you truly felt that action now would prevent catastrophy later, one may feel compelled to act . . .
 

Jay Reynolds

Senior Member.
Just because you could do something, is usually not a very good reason to just forge ahead and do it.

Case in point:

 

Jay Reynolds

Senior Member.
LoL!!!! . . . But they did do it . . . Think about it . . .


The bike is uncontrollable due to it's length, and the complexity of keeping 24 chainsaw engines each with it's own set of systems ultimately cause it to be unreliable.

In the end, despite the best efforts of a major German chainsaw manufacturer, the Dolmette failed when pitted against an ordinary 4-door Audi AS400, the bike lost the drag race.
dolmette3.jpg

Unfortunately, Dolmar was so embarassed they removed a video of the race from their site.

You see, what might look good at first glance, even despite heroic efforts, ended up being totally impractical in the end. They didn't "do it", it failed.

Thanks for making my point, George. Yes, I set you up........overnight.....and left the bait waiting for you to bite...
because I understand......... exactly how you think......

Think about it.........? :eek: :cool:
 
Top