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Our Broken Sky, Part Three

Click here to read “Our Broken Sky” Part One and Part Two.

Twenty years ago the U.S. Government approved the first geoengineering patent to reduce “atmospheric warming due to the greenhouse effect resulting from a greenhouse gases layer.”

“The method comprises the step of seeding the greenhouse gas layer (extending between about seven and thirteen kilometers above the earth’s surface) with a quantity of tiny particles of materials” such as aluminum oxide.

“The particles suspended in the stratosphere as a result of the seeding provide a mechanism for converting the blackbody radiation emitted by the earth at near infrared wavelengths into radiation in the visible and far infrared wavelength so that this heat energy may be reradiated out into space, thereby reducing the global warming due to the greenhouse effect.

“One technique proposed to seed the metallic particles was to add the tiny particles to the fuel of jet airliners, so that the particles would be emitted from the jet engine exhaust while the airliner was at its cruising altitude.

“Once the tiny particles have been dispersed into the atmosphere, the particles may remain in suspension for up to one year.”

According to Ken Caldeira, a climate modeler at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford, model simulations suggest the effects of a sulfate sunshade “did a pretty good job” of reversing the global warming.

But, according to Scientific American, “the sulfate sunshade could have serious drawbacks on other grounds. SO2, like CO2, would not just affect the planet’s temperature; it would change winds and precipitation as well, in ways that are not yet foreseeable. As less sunlight reached the earth’s surface, there would be less evaporation, particularly in the tropics, which would probably make rain and freshwater scarcer than they are today.”

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, there are at least “20 reasons why geoengineering may be a bad idea.”  They mention negative effects on regional climate, continued ocean acidification, ozone depletion, decreased photosynthesis, increased acid rain, decreased efficiency of solar panels, enormous environmental damage; rapid, uncontrolled warming if the experiment is terminated, decreased motivation to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and possible worldwide conflict as nations struggle to achieve a consensus on the necessity and morality of its use.

Any one of these issues is formidable, but taken together they present enough cause to pause and instead consider acting decisively to ensure these practices are never implemented.

Unless they already are. According to the website, geoengineeringwatch.org, “volumes of data, lab tests and video footage from all over the globe, make clear the conclusion that aerosol spraying has been an ongoing lethal reality. Citizens have found government data to back up their claims. In addition, according to a local source, “dozens of lab tests taken in Shasta County over the last four years have shown off-the-chart levels of heavy metals in rain, air, and snow. Aluminum, barium, and strontium, the same metals listed as primary elements of numerous geo-engineering patents.” 

The one fact almost all climate scientists accept is that our time to prevent dangerous climate change is coming to end. At best we have only five or ten years to make the necessary changes to prevent a climate catastrophe. As humanity realizes their fate, their demand for geoengineering solutions may invite further disastrous and unforeseen consequences. Our ancestors have deeded this Earth for our safe keeping. Our children deserve a living planet to safeguard for their progeny. The vase is teetering on the edge, waiting for our saving embrace. Our time to look up, to clearly see and act with wisdom is now.

Doug Craig earned a B.A. in journalism during the Carter administration and a doctorate in psychology during the Reagan administration. He has been a clinical psychologist in Redding for 22 years. Since 2004 he has suffered a serious obsession with the science of climate change and is most concerned about the Earth his children will inherit. You can find him at his website, ClimateTruth.org.