Recall that 50’s Burt Lancaster film, The Rainmaker, set in a dusty prairie town, crops withering in the field, where Starbuck cons the town into believing he can make it rain and ends up crashing his plane into the barn? Apparently, Starbuck is not dead and this time, he wants to seed the entire atmosphere of the planet.
The newest term for the ‘procedure’ is called Climate Intervention which proposes to inject sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere to counter climate change by creating more cloud cover- similar to the effect that the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 which, in the year following the eruption, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 °C (2.2 °F). Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888 because of the huge amounts of sulfur dioxide gas high into the stratosphere which was subsequently transported by high-level winds all over the planet.
Risky? Very, but that does not stop a group of people who, in the fashion of Dr. Stranglove, are eager to move forward with this plan despite its unknown consequences. And, you’d never guess which group is proposing this global madness.
Here’s a hint. The people in this ‘think tank’ have careers mostly in business, not science. Does ‘right-wing’ ring a bell? Yes, a group of venture capitalists and conservative think tanks is proposing such a plan. Why them, you may ask? Because, if stratosphere-seeding can lower global warming, then the fossil fuel industry can continue to ‘live well and prosper.’ Get it? Did I mention that the American Enterprise Institute is part of the plan?
Sadly, this is not a joke. A website, cleverly named, The Carbon War Room, pretends to be fighting the CO2-climate change issue but is, in fact, a cover for the carbon-producing industries. They may have enven snookered bill Gates. Gates is also an investor in a firm named Intellectual Ventures that is promoting a scheme called StratoShield, which would pump sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere through a hose held aloft by blimps.
Clive Hamilton, in an article in NewScience titled, An evil atmosphere is forming around geoengineering, says of this SO2 seeding proposal:
This form of geoengineering is extremely attractive because its costs are estimated to be trivial compared to those of cutting carbon. It also gets powerful lobbies off governments’ backs, gives the green light to burning more coal, avoids the need to raise petrol taxes, permits yet more unrestrained growth and is no threat to consumer lifestyles.
That last part, regarding consumer lifestyles, may in fact drive this idea into reality. Americans don’t want to move out of their comfort zones and could be easily propagandized into taking such a risk- especially with the proper protagonists, including Bill Gates.
The mood of the American electorate lately shows rapid swings from one end of the political spectrum to the other. It is not inconceivable to me that they could be easily be persuaded to demand this atmospheric experiment. If it doesn’t work, we’ll lose more than the barn.