Documents seen by the Guardian show Russia is asking for a conclusion of the report to recommend geoengineering. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian
Russia is pushing for next week's landmark UN climate science report to include support for controversial technologies to geoengineer the planet's climate, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.
As climate scientists prepare to gather for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Stockholm to present the most authoritative state of climate science to date, it has emerged the Russian government is asking for "planet hacking" to be included in the report. The IPCC has not included geoengineering in its major assessments before.
The documents seen by the Guardian show Russia is asking for a conclusion of the report to say that a "possible solution of this [climate change] problem can be found in using of [sic] geoengineering methods to stabilise current climate." Russia also highlighted that its scientists are developing geoengineering technologies.
Geoengineering aims to cool the Earth by methods including spraying sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight, or fertilising the oceans with iron to create carbon-capturing algal blooms.
Such ideas are increasingly being discussed by western scientists and governments as a plan B for addressing climate change, with the new astronomer royal, Professor Sir Martin Rees, calling last week for such methods to buy time to develop sources of clean energy. But the techniques have been criticised as a way for powerful, industrialised nations to dodge their commitments to reduce carbon emissions.
Some modelling has shown geoengineering could be effective at reducing the Earth's temperature, but manipulation of sensitive planetary systems in one area of the world could also result in drastic unintended consequences globally, such as radically disrupted rainfall.
Responding to efforts to discredit the climate science with a spoiler campaign in advance of the report, the chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra K Pachauri, said he was confident the high standards of the science in the report would make the case for climate action. He said: "There will be enough information provided so that rational people across the globe will see that action is needed on climate change."
The Russian scientist Yuri Izrael, who has participated in IPCC geoengineering expert groups and was an adviser to the former Russian president Vladimir Putin, conducted an experiment in 2009 that sprayed particles from a helicopter to assess how much sunlight was blocked by the aerosol plume. A planned test in Britain that would have used a balloon attached to a 1km hose to develop equipment for spraying was prevented after a public outcry.
Observers have suggested that Russia's admission that it is developing geoengineering may put it in violation of the UN moratorium on geoengineering projects established at the Biodiversity Convention in 2010 and should be discussed on an emergency basis when the convention's scientific subcommittee meets in Montreal in October.
Civil society organisations have previously raised concerns that expert groups writing geoengineering sections of the IPCC report were dominated by US, UK and Canadian geoengineering advocates who have called for public funding of large-scale experiments or who have taken out commercial patents on geoenginering technologies. One scientist who served as a group co-chair, David Keith of Harvard University, runs a private geoengineering company, has planned tests in New Mexico, and is publicising a new book called The Case for Climate Engineering.
Nearly 160 civil society, indigenous and environmental organisations signed a letter in 2011 urging caution and calling on the IPCC not to legitimise geoengineering.
Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America director of the technology watchdog ETC Group, said: "We have been warning that a few geoengineering advocates have been trying to hijack the IPCC for their agenda. We are now seeing a deliberate attempt to exploit the high profile and credibility of this body in order to create more mainstream support for extreme climate engineering. The public and policymakers need to be on guard against being steamrollered into accepting dangerous and immoral interventions with our planet, which are a false solution to climate change. Geoengineering should be banned by the UN general assembly."
Matthew Watson, a senior lecturer at the University of Bristol's Earth sciences department and one of the team behind the cancelled balloon project, said: "In general ought the IPCC to be thinking about geoengineering? Yes. But do I want to see unilateralism or regionalism affect the debate? Certainly not. The people who don't like geoengineering will suggest the IPCC is a method for normalising it."
He added: "The IPCC has to be very careful about how it handles this [geoengineering] because it is clearly a very significant output that people are very mindful of."
While the IPCC is intended to be a scientific advisory panel, government delegates have been reviewing the summary report and make final decisions about it in Stockholm at the end of the month.
Sweden, Norway and Germany expressed more scepticism about geoengineering and asked that the report underline its potential dangers.
"The information on geoengineering options is too optimistic as it does not appropriately reflect the current lack of knowledge or the high risks associated with such methods," noted the German government.
Geoengineering is expected to play a much larger role in the next IPCC reports coming out in 2014. Observers were surprised that it had turned up in this first major report – meant to assess physical science rather than mitigation strategies.
Locals gathered downtown to protest what they say is geo-engineering, an attempt to curb global warming by spraying chemicals into the air.
They say it's done through chemtrails, lines of vapor released by planes that scientists typically call contrails.
National Weather Service Meteorologist in Charge Jon Mittelstadt explains.
"It's a condensation trail that forms behind a jet due to the jet exhaust mixing with moisture in the atmosphere," he said.
Mittlestadt it's similar to how you can see car exhaust on a cold day.
But protestors like Daniel Sion say there are more than just contrails in the sky.
"[Chemtrails] look very different because they stay for hours at a time," Sion said. "They fan out and cover the entire city."
"A contrail doesn't stick around," Christopher Neilson said. "It doesn't stay in the air."
Mittelstadt said how quickly a contrail evaporates depends on atmospheric conditions and it can be anywhere from immediately to a couple of hours later.
"They will, under the right conditions, spread across the sky," Millstadt said. "At times it can cause a cooling effect because it is a cloud just like any other cloud."
But this group says they're not just like any other cloud.
"They call it weather modification, which they try to make it sound like a good thing," Neilson said.
Sion said he has found proof through the U.S. Patent Office that this technology exists.
"To create artificial clouds of aluminum for solar radiation management," Sion said. "That's what it's purported to be."
Sion said some people take this idea too far and he just wants answers, no matter if they prove him right or wrong.
"People tend to get worked up they tend to bring in a lot of political ties," he said. "We need the facts. We need to start with scientific observation."
News 4 checked into that patent. It was filed in 1990 by Hughes Aircraft Company, which was originally an aerospace and defense contractor. It is summarized as a method of reducing global warming by introducing oxides into the atmosphere. At the time the patent was filed, the company was owned by General Motors.
At the risk of sounding all Alex Jones here, I see plenty of potential downside to a spy agency having the ability to control the weather.
But according to Nature World News, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, along with several other federal agencies, is funding an experiment in using geoengineering to manipulate weather on our planet.
The goal of the $630,000, 21-month study -- co-funded by the National Academy of Science, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA -- is to "conduct a technical evaluation of a limited number of proposed geoengineering techniques, including examples of both solar radiation management (SRM) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) techniques, and comment generally on the potential impacts of deploying these technologies, including possible environmental, economic, and national security concerns."
The last time I saw someone controlling the weather, it was Storm in X-Men. Let's just say things didn't always go according to plan. I see similar problems with bestowing such power on a spy agency known for meddling in the affairs of other countries, whatever the virtues of its unstated intentions.
It's also troubling that the study will "discuss historical examples of related technologies (e.g., cloud seeding and other weather modification) for lessons that might be learned about societal reactions, examine what international agreements exist which may be relevant to the experimental testing or deployment of geoengineering technologies, and briefly explore potential societal and ethical considerations related to geoengineering."
A 50-year mystery over the 'cursed bread' of Pont-Saint-Esprit, which left residents suffering hallucinations, has been solved after a writer discovered the US had spiked the bread with LSD as part of an experiment.
An American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD
Henry Samuel in Paris
7:00AM GMT 11 Mar 2010
In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted.
For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now, however, an American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War.
The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread) still haunts the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, southeast France.
One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: "I am a plane", before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to put it back. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets.
Storm clouds loom over the Montauk lighthouse in Montauk, N.Y., as Hurricane Irene approaches on Aug. 27, 2011. Will the CIA be able to help harnass the power of the weather to fight climate change?
Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images
The Central Intelligence Agency is funding a scientific study that will investigate whether humans could use geoengineering to alter Earth's environment and stop climate change. The National Academy of Sciences will run the 21-month project, which is the first NAS geoengineering study financially supported by an intelligence agency. With the spooks' money, scientists will study how humans might influence weather patterns, assess the potential dangers of messing with the climate, and investigate possible national security implications of geoengineering attempts.
The total cost of the project is $630,000, which NAS is splitting with the CIA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA. The NAS website says that "the US intelligence community" is funding the project, and William Kearney, a spokesman for the NAS, told Mother Jones that phrase refers to the CIA. Edward Price, a spokesman for the CIA, refused to confirm the agency's role in the study, but said, "It's natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security." The CIA reportedly closed its research center on climate change and national security last year, after GOP members of Congress argued that the CIA shouldn't be looking at climate change.
The goal of the CIA-backed NAS study is to conduct a "technical evaluation of a limited number of proposed geoengineering techniques," according to the NAS website. Scientists will attempt to determine which geoengineering techniques are feasible and try to evaluate the impacts and risks of each (including "national security concerns"). One proposed geoengineering method the study will look at is solar radiation management—a fancy term for pumping particles into the stratosphere to reflect incoming sunlight away from the planet. In theory, solar radiation management could lead to a global cooling trend that might reverse, or at least slow down, global warming. The study will also investigate proposals for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The National Academies has held two previous workshops on geoengineering, but neither was funded by the intelligence community, says Edward Dunlea, the study director for the latest project. The CIA would not say why it had decided to fund the project at this time, but the U.S. government's apparent interest in altering the climate isn't new. The first big use of weather modification as a military tactic came during the Vietnam War, when the Air Force engaged in a cloud seeding program to try to create rainfall and turn the Ho Chi Minh Trail into muck, and thereby gain tactical advantage. Between 1962 and 1983, other would-be weather engineers tried to change the behavior of hurricanes using silver iodide. That effort, dubbed Project Stormfury, was spearheaded by the Navy and the Commerce Department. China's Weather Modification Office also controversially seeded clouds in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hoping to ensure rain would fall in the Beijing suburbs instead of over the Olympic stadiums.
Although previous efforts to manipulate weather and climate have often been met with mockery, many geoengineering proposals "are fundamentally doable, relatively cheap, and do appear to be able to reduce climate risk significantly, but with risks," explains David Keith, a Harvard researcher and top geoengineering proponent.
But if geoengineering is cheap and "fundamentally doable," as Keith claims, that suggests foreign countries, or even wealthy individuals, could mess with the climate to advance their own ends. "This whole issue of lone actors: Do we need to be concerned about China acting unilaterally? Is that just idle chatter, or is that something the U.S. government should prepare for?" asks Ken Caldeira, a geoengineering researcher at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and a member of the current NAS panel.
At least one individual has already tried modifying the climate. Russ George, the former head of Planktos, a company that works to develop technology to deal with global warming, seeded the Pacific Ocean off western Canada with iron to generate a plankton bloom that, in turn, was supposed to suck up carbon dioxide from the air. George's effort was widely condemned, but at present there's little to stop other individuals or countries from trying it or something similar. That's part of what has the U.S. intelligence community interested.
The CIA's decision to fund scientific work on geoengineering will no doubt excite conspiracy theorists. The last time the government tried to do cutting-edge research related to the atmosphere—with the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, which aimed to protect satellites from nuclear blasts—people speculated that it might be a death ray, a mind control weapon, or, worst of all … a way to control the weather.
Man-made particles lowered hurricane frequency: study
A television reporter watches waves hit a pier before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy October 29, 2012 just off the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Higher levels of air pollution reduced the frequency of North Atlantic hurricanes and other tropical storms for most of the 20th century, a study said Sunday.
AFP - Higher levels of air pollution reduced the frequency of North Atlantic hurricanes and other tropical storms for most of the 20th century, a study said Sunday.
Adding to evidence for mankind's impact on the weather system, the probe found a link between these powerful storms and aerosols, the scientific term for specks of matter suspended in a gas.
Aerosols can occur in natural form -- as dusty volcanic plumes, clouds or fog -- but are also man-made, such as sooty particles from burning coal or oil.
The study focused on particles from North America and Europe that were generated mainly from burning fossil fuels.
Researchers from the UK Met Office created weather simulations covering the period 1860 to 2050.
They found that tropical storms were much less frequent during periods when emissions of man-made aerosols increased over the North Atlantic.
"Increases in anthropogenic emissions (particularly of aerosols) through most of the last century is found to have reduced hurricane activity," co-author Ben Booth told AFP.
"The cooling impact of man-emitted aerosols may have had a more important regional impact on climate than we previous appreciated."
Aerosols reflect solar rays and change the brightness of clouds, which affects how much of the Sun's heat is projected onto the surface of the sea, the authors suggest.
Ocean warmth provides the raw energy for tropical storms, which in extreme conditions can brew into destructive hurricanes.
Conversely, the study found that measures since the 1980s to tackle pollution and improve air quality reduced levels of aerosols -- and in turn ramped up hurricane activity.
"The clean-up of industrial aerosols in the last 20 years, while being beneficial for human health and linked to a recovery of African Sahel rains since the 1980s droughts, may have contributed to increases in Atlantic hurricane activity," Booth said by email.
The authors said their study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, is the first to demonstrate a link between aerosols and Atlantic tropical storms.
The research team postulates that in the future, it will be Earth-warming greenhouse gases, much longer-lasting than aerosols, that will exert the most influence on tropical storm frequency.
Previous work published in Nature Climate Change had said that while the number of tropical storms was not projected to increase in future, their intensity was.
The hurricane season runs from June to November. For 2013, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted 13 to 20 "named" storms, seven to 11 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes.
Managing the climate in the face of global warming is a wicked problem with almost no precedent. Given the global nature of the problem, no one nation can solve it without getting virtually all other nations involved. Even if Americans stopped driving cars and eating meat en masse tomorrow, it would not make much of a dent if the Chinese kept burning coal at their mad pace. India, Japan, even Canada all play outsized roles.
The problem demands engaging almost every independent nation in a highly coordinated manner. Therein lies one aspect of the climate management problem: coming up with global governing systems that could monitor and coordinate in ways that are far beyond the capabilities of our current international institutions.
[ Related: more news tagged with "Global warming" ]
Another aspect of climate management is geoengineering. Some studying the changes in our climate think that we already may have gone too far in dumping global warming pollution into the atmosphere — that even with drastic cuts to carbon, we will still be unable to avoid huge climate changes. They and others are contemplating ideas such as “solar radiation management”– blocking out something like 3 percent of the sun’s light by, for example, spreading and maintaining particles of sulphur dioxide in the upper atmosphere, similar to what happens when volcanos erupt.
It gets potentially more complicated because such a geoengineering project in the upper atmosphere could lead to unintended changes to regional climate conditions, and potentially be seen as a threatening action. And it wouldn’t take a superpower to make geoengineering happen — a wealthy private sector actor who wants to “save the Earth” (Nathan Myhrvold and other tech titans have talked about similar projects) could do it. So could any country with a small air force, such as India, Saudi Arabia, even Belgium.
During this roundtable we will face up to this extremely difficult problem and talk about how to Reinvent Climate Management. What would a system of global governance look like that’s up to the true challenges ahead? What kind of authority would it need? If actors like rogue nations or geoengineering tech titans broke the rules, what could be done? We’ll look at a range of possibilities, including those that don’t involve big government. Is there a bottom-up way forward? One led by corporations?
This roundtable will be driven by Jamais Cascio, a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, who is author of Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoengineering, and who is now at work on his second book.
We’ll be filling up the roundtable with other systems thinkers in the weeks ahead.
Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of their Top 100 Global Thinkers, Jamais Cascio specializes in the design and creation of plausible scenarios of the future, focusing on the intersection of emerging technologies, environmental dilemmas, and cultural transformation. Cascio’s work appears in publications as diverse as the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, and Foreign Policy, and he has been featured in a variety of television programs on future issues. Cascio speaks about future possibilities around the world, at venues including the Aspen Environment Forum, Guardian Activate Summit in London, the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC, and TED.
In 2009, Cascio published his first non-fiction book, Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoengineering, and is at work on his second. Cascio is presently a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, and also serves as Senior Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. In 2003, he co-founded WorldChanging.com, the award-winning website dedicated to finding and calling attention to models, tools and ideas for building a “bright green” future. In March, 2006, he started Open the Future as his online home, writing about subjects as diverse as robot ethics and the carbon footprint of cheeseburgers.
Global warming caused by chlorofluorocarbons, not carbon dioxide, new study says
7 hours ago
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are to blame for global warming since the 1970s and not carbon dioxide, according to new research from the University of Waterloo published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B this week.
CFCs are already known to deplete ozone, but in-depth statistical analysis now shows that CFCs are also the key driver in global climate change, rather than carbon dioxide(CO2) emissions.
"Conventional thinking says that the emission of human-made non-CFC gases such as carbon dioxide has mainly contributed to global warming. But we have observed data going back to the Industrial Revolution that convincingly shows that conventional understanding is wrong," said Qing-Bin Lu, a professor of physics and astronomy, biology and chemistry in Waterloo's Faculty of Science. "In fact, the data shows that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays caused both the polar ozone hole and global warming."
"Most conventional theories expect that global temperatures will continue to increase as CO2 levels continue to rise, as they have done since 1850. What's striking is that since 2002, global temperatures have actually declined – matching a decline in CFCs in the atmosphere," Professor Lu said. "My calculations of CFC greenhouse effect show that there was global warming by about 0.6 °C from 1950 to 2002, but the earth has actually cooled since 2002. The cooling trend is set to continue for the next 50-70 years as the amount of CFCs in the atmosphere continues to decline."
The findings are based on in-depth statistical analyses of observed data from 1850 up to the present time, Professor Lu's cosmic-ray-driven electron-reaction (CRE) theory ofozone depletion and his previous research into Antarctic ozone depletion and global surface temperatures.
"It was generally accepted for more than two decades that the Earth's ozone layer was depleted by the sun's ultraviolet light-induced destruction of CFCs in the atmosphere," he said. "But in contrast, CRE theory says cosmic rays – energy particles originating in space – play the dominant role in breaking down ozone-depleting molecules and then ozone."
Lu's theory has been confirmed by ongoing observations of cosmic ray, CFC, ozone and stratospheric temperature data over several 11-year solar cycles. "CRE is the only theory that provides us with an excellent reproduction of 11-year cyclic variations of both polar ozone loss and stratospheric cooling," said Professor Lu. "After removing the natural cosmic-ray effect, my new paper shows a pronounced recovery by ~20% of the Antarctic ozone hole, consistent with the decline of CFCs in the polar stratosphere."
By proving the link between CFCs, ozone depletion and temperature changes in the Antarctic, Professor Lu was able to draw almost perfect correlation between risingglobal surface temperatures and CFCs in the atmosphere.
"The climate in the Antarctic stratosphere has been completely controlled by CFCs andcosmic rays, with no CO2 impact. The change in global surface temperature after the removal of the solar effect has shown zero correlation with CO2 but a nearly perfect linear correlation with CFCs - a correlation coefficient as high as 0.97."
Data recorded from 1850 to 1970, before any significant CFC emissions, show thatCO2 levels increased significantly as a result of the Industrial Revolution, but the global temperature, excluding the solar effect, kept nearly constant. The conventional warming model of CO2, suggests the temperatures should have risen by 0.6°C over the same period, similar to the period of 1970-2002.
The analyses indicate the dominance of Lu's CRE theory and the success of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
"We've known for some time that CFCs have a really damaging effect on our atmosphere and we've taken measures to reduce their emissions," Professor Lu said. "We now know that international efforts such as the Montreal Protocol have also had a profound effect on global warming but they must be placed on firmer scientific ground."
"This study underlines the importance of understanding the basic science underlying ozone depletion and global climate change," said Terry McMahon, dean of the faculty of science. "This research is of particular importance not only to the research community, but to policy makers and the public alike as we look to the future of our climate."
Professor Lu's paper, Cosmic-Ray-Driven Reaction and Greenhouse Effect of Halogenated Molecules: Culprits for Atmospheric Ozone Depletion and Global Climate Change, also predicts that the global sea level will continue to rise for some years as the hole in the ozone recovers increasing ice melting in the polar regions.
"Only when the effect of the global temperature recovery dominates over that of the polar ozone hole recovery, will both temperature and polar ice melting drop concurrently," says Lu.
The peer-reviewed paper published this week not only provides new fundamental understanding of the ozone hole and global climate change but has superior predictive capabilities, compared with the conventional sunlight-driven ozone-depleting and CO2-warming models.
More information: Cosmic-Ray-Driven Reaction and Greenhouse Effect of Halogenated Molecules: Culprits for Atmospheric Ozone Depletion and Global Climate Change, Qing-Bin Lu, University of Waterloo, Published on May 30 in InternationalJournal of Modern Physics B Vol. 27 (2013) 1350073 (38 pages). The paper is available online at: www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0217979213500732