The first geoengineering was implemented around 8,000 BC, around the same time as the Vedic hymns for the climate, when forests were burned for pasture. This was the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution and the start of the Holocene (or Anthropocene) with significant human impacts on ecosystems. The next major 'geoengineering' projects were around 2,000 to 3,000 BC, when people used soil for dams and built canals for flood control and irrigation.
The first climate conference in 1963 was about implications of rising carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere. The 1965 PSAC science report to President Johnson mentioned the possibility of albedo geoengineering. The first geoengineering proposals in 1977 were to collect and transport CO2 to inject in the sinking thermohaline (Marchetti), and for stratospheric aerosol injections. (Budyko).
In 2000, David Keith wrote, Geoengineering the Climate: History and Prospect. In 2006 Paul Cruzten wrote, ‘Albedo Enhancement by Stratospheric Sulfur Injections: A Contribution to Resolve a Policy Dilemma?’ After this, SRM became more acceptable as a possibility. In 2009, the Royal Society published Geoengineering the climate Science, governance and uncertainty (98p). In 2014, the Royal Society and Max Plank Institute published, Geoengineering of the Climate System (248p). In 2015, the National Research Council published Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool the Earth. In 2015, the EuTRACE (A European Transdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering) published Removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and reflecting sunlight away from earth (170p). (See, Caldeira, Reflecting on 50 years of geoengineering research, 2016).
One problem is that the new 'climate cabal' who attend geoengineering meetings are almost all affluent elites and middle-aged white men with little connection with the natural world. Advocates for geoengineering include the advocates for nuclear weapons, the fossil fuel industry, people who spread climate misinformation, and people who do not believe the science of climate change.
As Einstein said, we cannot solve problems with the same consciousness that created the problem. Part of the crisis is that the vast majority of incredibly dangerous and expensive mainstream ‘solutions’ such as industrial geoengineering is created by the same people and from the same Western, fossil fueled, industrial, financial, and scientific consciousness that created the climate crisis in the first place.
Geoengineering involves deliberate intent, large scale, CDR or SRM action, with the purpose to alleviate or counter climate impacts. They also have the possibility of substantive unintended consequences that cross national boundaries. Industrial SRM & CDR involves a mechanical conception of nature, for control over an inert environment. There’s a lot of psychological fear, uncertainty and opposition, as well as hope, inspiration and support.
Deliberately adding one pollutant to temporarily counter another, a ‘brutally ugly fix.’ If misused, it could cause rapid climate change, imperil global food supply, and lead to wars. The case for climate engineering is that we must slow the rate of warming to prevent catastrophic tipping points (Keith, 2013). Like our capacity to engineer our genome, geoengineering poses questions about nature and technology on planetary scale. The SRM solution involves injecting the sulfate byproducts of oil refining into the stratosphere. SRM is the only technology that could be deployed fast, although it could take decades for controversial field tests. Most other fixes are too expensive or complicated.
As a result of having limited consciousness, otherwise well-meaning climate experts have limited ideas for industrial-style geoengineering and create incredibly bad solutions that involve, for example, the Pinatubo Option. The Pinatubo Option, which is one of the 'best' ideas with the most support among climate experts, is to inject massive amounts of sulfur into the stratosphere to simulate a volcano. Pinatubo ejected 20 million tons of sulphate aerosols into the upper atmosphere, which reduced sunlight by 2.5% and lowered global average temperatures around 0.5°C. Historical experience and models show that this stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) would very likely cause widespread drought and famine for billions of people.
The leading proposal for SRM with stratospheric aerosols involves spraying 1.5-5 MtS/year, compared with 50-100 MtS/year pollution put into troposphere. But, if they coagulate into larger particles, the cooling effect turns into a heating effect. There’s also the significant possibility for changed precipitation patterns and unexpected climate changes and triggering tipping points such as drying in the Amazon, super-droughts in the American, Indian or Chinese agricultural breadbaskets, and cooling the tropics. The potential for SRM to negitively impact the monsoons in South Asia and Africa suggests that India has a big incentive to be involved in these debates, to develop governance mechanisms. With SRM, the Indian monsoon will likely decrease precipitation by 6.4% to over 12.7%, according to the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project.
In Arizona in 2019, the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (ScoPEx) will inject calcium carbonate particles for the world's first stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) SRM experiment. (Tollefson, Nature, 2018). Other projects such as Oceanos in Chile want to dump massive amounts iron into the ocean to catalyze algae blooms, but this has major problems with biodiversity and a lack of oversight and governance. Others want to block out the sun with mirrors. Others want to spread silica sand over the Arctic (ice911.org). Other projects include the Eastern Pacific Emitted Aerosol Cloud Experiment (2011), the ongoing UKs Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE), and the Marine Cloud Brightening project in California. CCS projects include PetraNova in Taxas, Decatur in Illinois, and DRAX in the UK. The US, India, UK, China, Germany, Japan, Norway, and UAE are all researching geoengineering.
What if it’s more complicated, more expensive, and more problematic than assumed? A geoengineered world would require vast sociotechnical system of machinery, manpower, infrastructure, rules, laws and institutions. The Indigenous Environmental Network, Friends of the Earth International, La Via Campesina, Climate Justice Alliance, ETC Group, and many other organizations and experts, published a manifesto calling for a ban on all geoengineering field experiments and deployment, as part of the Hands Off Mother Earth! (HOME) Campaign (Oct 2018).
The anti-geogengineering position is that it is not a solution, it is likely to make the climate crisis worse, and it uses the same kind of industrial thinking that created the crisis in the first place. It severs our primal link with nature. It represents human’s profound hubris and ruthless exploitation over nature. It has grave consequence for land use, food sovereignty, and biodiversity. It clearly embodies the Cold War faith in technology and engineering as the solution to all problems. (See, Earth Masters; and Why [SRM] Geoengineering is not a solution to the climate problem, Climate Analytics, 2018).
The pro-geoengineering position is that climate change might happen faster than we expect and the world is unlikely to cut emissions fast enough to stave off abrupt climate change. It’s prudent at least to begin to research these options in earnest so we can discover what works before there’s urgency. As far as many experts see, it’s the only tool we have.
James Hansen writes in support of geoengineering research (Aug. 2018): ‘In view of our longstanding knowledge of the threat posed by climate change, we find it morally repugnant and reprehensible that we, the older generations, have not developed, tested and costed the known technological options for addressing climate change. Instead we placed all of our eggs in a single basket, renewable energies. Scientific analysis of all options is appropriate.’ The Economist says, ‘research into solar geoengineering should be redoubled.’ (Aug 2018).
Questions remain about what the impacts would be. Nearly two billion people depend on the Asian and African monsoon rains to grow their food. SRM could disrupt this and change rainfall patterns that could cause tropical rain forests to collapse. Shifting precipitation patterns and unexpected droughts, which could be devastating for many food-producing regions of the world, are the biggest concerns. Foreign policy experts fear conflicts over nations “stealing” one another’s rain. Military leaders worry about climate warfare.
The primary approach today is to solve the climate crisis with carbon markets, which could reach $3 trillion in the 2020s—huge landscapes of wind and solar ‘farms’ to ‘replace’ fossil fuels, and with the back-up of industrial geoengineering for when things spiral out of control. Industrial geoengineering is driven by money. It’s a game of economics. But the costs of carbon capture and storage (CCS), BECCS, and other CDR projects are very high and implies a need for a rapid reduction in emissions.
Similar to industrial climate engineering is industrial weather modifications. Weather warfare is of significant interest to the US government and military. The history of this includes Project Cirrus (1947) and Project Stormfury (1962) for hurricane modification, Project Skyfire (1960) for lightning suppression, Project Whitetop (1960-64) for cloud seeding, and, most notably, the highly classified Operation Popeye (1967-72) where the US used cloud seeding as a weapon in Vietnam.
The military's reports related to weather warfare include Spacecast 2020 (1994) and Air Force 2025 (1996), about using weather control. This led to over $80 million in funding in 1967 for climate and weather modification projects, and with funding projections of about $150 million per year by 1970. The US then created the National Weather Modification Policy Act of 1976.
However, The UN Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (1978), or ENMOD Convention, prohibits “any hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects as the means of destruction.” After this, a curtain fell over the subject and the US military became suspiciously silent. One of the only reconsiderations of the subject emerged with the Weather Modification Research and Technology Transfer Authorization Act of 2005.
The military's desire to modify storms is aggressive and controversial. One tropical storm has the energy of a 10,000 megaton bomb and can cause $100s billions of damages. A one-inch rainstorm over an 84,000-acre area is about 2.3 billion gallons of water.
The recognition that weather modification can easily be used to create damage is the primary subject of the legal paper, Weather Modification and the Law in the USA, Ronald Standler (2006), summarizing court cases and principles of tort liability for cloud seeding, including drought and flood allegedly caused by cloud seeding. Cloud seeding is primarily about using silver iodine (AgI) to nucleate water vapor to form ice crystals and water droplets to create rain.
Another very dangerous industrial project related to the climate crisis is the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP). It has potential to be used for good, but it's controlled by malevolent forces. Beginning in the 1980s and its alleged termination in 2006—although the ‘conspiracy theory’ is that it’s an ongoing project— HAARP was/is designed to transmit over 1.7-100 gigawatts of energy into the ionosphere. The ionosphere is the layer of the Earth's atmosphere that contains a high concentration of ions and extends about 30 to 600 miles above Earth. Among other properties, the ionosphere is an electrical shield protecting Earth from constant bombardment of high-energy particles from space and it also facilitates radio propagation to distant places on the Earth.
HAARP is also designed to use this property to transmit electromagnetic radiations around the Earth in a way that can manipulate global weather, affect ecosystems, affect electronic communications, and affect people's mental states. Weather modification can be attained by injecting relatively small signals around the Earth with an amplification and nonlinear field effects in the environment. Climate Yoga is also about the amplification of signals and nonlinear field effects. However, it's about using the power of consciousness, not machines.
The problem is that HAARP could significantly damage the troposphere and it adds more energy to the global system in a way that can further destabilize an already unstable environment. Therefore, HARP-like projects risk passing threshold effects and causing significant unintended consequences. Theoretically, HAARP could be used to facilitate beneficial changes if it were controlled by people with higher states of consciousness. (See the Arcutrian section, for more about HAARP).
Should we do whatever it takes to survive Earth’s rage? Ensuring the survival of civilization involves thinking and knowing Earth as sentient, a provocative concept for some. The failure to grasp and prepare for Earth’s rage is due to misplaced faith in computer models as reliable guides, misplaced religious faith that God will take care of us, greed, and cowardice. The culture of death needs a deep detox and cleansing of consciousness to help detox the Earth. (Clive Hamilton).
Some assign the Earth and its evolution to the divine realm. Some see Earth as a passive backdrop in a humans-only orientation, where ecology is outside the bubble of our existence. Facts about eco-disruption seems to have a narcotizing effect. Something unfathomably great is taking place; a rupture, a ruin/salvation. The greatest tragedy is the absence of a sense of tragedy. There’s widespread indifference, a failure of reason, and psychological weakness.
Freedom, democracy, material advances, and technology are paving the way to its own destruction. It’s the crucifix of progress. The last 60 years had the most profound transformations of the human relationship with the natural world in the history of humankind.
Geoengineering is an audacious question to fix the Earth’s climate. The deeper you probe climate change, the darker the story gets. Paradoxically, reducing air pollution aerosols makes the climate crisis worse because it lesses the 'global dimming' effect. GHGs are a proxy for economic health and prosperity. Another problem is too much heat. Solution: reduce the heat, reflect about 1-2% sunlight. The albedo-reflectivity enhancement solutions are mirrors in space, painted roofs, SAI, and creating certain clouds. Uncertain effects of SAI on the ozone layer, rain, etc. remind one of Dr Evil and techno-elite hubris.
About 50% of carbon emissions are absorbed in the carbon cycle in about a decade; it takes a few centuries to absorb the next 30%; and 20% lingers in atmosphere for as long as 100,000 years, longer than nuclear waste (which are hazardous for tens of thousands of years). The thermal inertia is locking in ongoing warming. We fear permafrost thaw and the collapse of tropical rainforest with droughts. We’re poking the climate dragon. We’re playing Russian Roulette with the OS of civilization.
We’re seeing catastrophic effects with 1°C and 2°C threatens even more serious disruptions to the biosphere. Warming of 2°C is a guarantee of global disaster. It’s moral schizophrenia. Emissions control measures impose extremely high costs but the refusal to implement emissions controls has imposed even higher costs.
‘Visitations like droughts, floods, earthquakes, and the like, though they seem to have only physical origins, are… somehow connected with man’s morals.’ –Gandhi
Humanity, in a state of moral schizophrenia, stands at a precipice of global catastrophe. (Stephen Gardiner). Decades of scientific warnings to reduce GHGs and prepare for impacts, yet there’s very little action. Must the Pinatubo Option, for planetary sunblock be taken seriously?! With emergency framing, geoengineering creates ethical unease. We’ve marginalized the moral issue of how we got into this predicament. We’ve brought on creative myopia. We now emphasize and endorse crazy geoengineering schemes.
Climate change is the perfect moral storm: it’s global and intergenerational, the affluent are responsible for past and current emissions, and costs are most severe to future generations and nonhumans. And humanity is not unified by appropriate structures of agency or by competent institutions, but public argument proceeds on this assumption.
Geoengineering and climate interventions are justified under some circumstances: if the alternative is truly dire and consequences of geoengineering is benign, with very high confidence. Geoengineering is likely to create a minority that will be worse off—the most vulnerable, poor, and least responsible. The perfect moral storm risks becoming a moral typhoon with geoengineering.
Since 1990, emissions are up 30%. The world awaits a convincing effort to confront climate change challenge. Emergency framing of geoengineering puts our focus on the wrong place, on wrong questions. Schizophrenia, is ‘to have a split mind’, with a breakdown in the relations between thoughts, feelings, and actions, which frequently accompanies delusions and retreat from social life. Not to be moved by what one values bespeaks a malady of the spirit, a split between motives, reasons, and values, which creates a disharmony.
Creative myopia is when one invokes strong moral reasons to justify an action, supported only because alternative courses of action are ruled out. It's using morality as a cloak to cover other motives, as a ruse to confuse others, consciously disingenuous, lacking internal coherence, and ruling out other options by their motives which are morally indefensible. It's the refusal of better options on dubious or insufficient grounds, with self-deception, delusion, and incoherence.
Emissions seem relatively frivolous in the face of the threat it imposes to others—death, disease, dislocation, and widespread suffering. Although resisting emissions cuts, R&D geoengineering despite knowing it may not work, will not fix all the problems, raises serious questions of negative side effects, legitimate governance, irreversibility, and so on. Ethically worrying geoengineering is rogue, non-consensus, predatory, and militarized.
Courts and insurance companies refer to extreme weather as an ‘uncontrollable natural force’, and as an ‘act of God’. Reorienting people’s relationship to the weather is important. Geoengineering is often seen as ‘playing God’ or as ‘climate remediation,’ remedying, for reviving, or stopping environmental damage.
The first generation geoengineering analysis involved warnings of overconfidence, hubris, and that it’s a distraction from mitigation. Aggressive mitigation is part of any pathway to climate justice. There are questions about environmental impacts of large-scale CDR infrastructure, warnings of vested interests, an elite agenda, potential injustices and inequality issues, and the issue of perpetual responsibility. The analysis also includes the 1.5/2°C goal being highly, if not impossibly ambitious and likely requiring artificial enhancements of sinks with CDR/CCS. A transition to clean technology would have to be impossibly quick without Climate Yoga.