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A Bold Solution for Global Warming

  • 1.  A Bold Solution for Global Warming

    Posted 09-30-2019 01:17 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 09-30-2019 01:16 PM

    I would appreciate feedback on this Global Warming theory. If we construct Solar Umbrellas above the Earth's atmosphere- sunlight could be reflected out into deep space and the Energy/Sunlight that contributes to Global Warming could be controlled. We could prevent Hurricanes and Tornadoes which are caused by sunlight creating high and low pressure zones in our atmosphere. Solar umbrellas would reflect light away from the Earth- and all would be equipped with Solar Cells to power and sustain them.  In fact if these Space umbrellas could be controlled and adjusted accordingly we could actually control the weather.

    Solar umbrellas could be constructed similar to a trampoline. Aluminum tubing with a reflective cloth like the astronauts wear. Not one huge piece but spliced together and assembled from below in a series of maze walls (Much like a mechanics trench) that could have docking clamps to keep them in place until launch. I am thinking good quality balloons filled with hydrogen. Hydrogen is of course flammable vs helium - which is not lighter and more expensive. Hydrogen has a bigger lifting capacity.

    The balloons would lift the umbrella to the edge of the atmosphere (circa 300 miles)  where they would float. All would need to be equipped with a solar powered iPhone that had a GPS so it could be tracked.

    I am not sure how they, the Solar Umbrellas, could be controlled. A satellite has a much higher orbit and is held in place when gravitational force equals centrifugal force. These would not have a large weight- so how do we get velocity around the Earth?  Does the atmosphere rotate as the Earth rotates? In addition to the GPS these should probably have a device that could release the balloons if required to remove them- just in case that option is needed.

    Test runs could be made with smaller models (say 2000’ in dia.) to see how this works. Launch them and track them. The cost would not be exorbitant- as compared to launching a rocket. I would like to hear your thoughts on this theory. Does anyone know of any research being done in this field?

    Richard LaPrairie P.E.,M.ASCE P Eng MSME
    LMI Engineering L.L.C.
    Reno NV


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  • 2.  RE: A Bold Solution for Global Warming

    Posted 10-01-2019 08:10 AM

    Interesting idea, but what do we do when we enter a global cooling cycle? The climate is constantly changing and has done so for as long as the earth has existed. Who would control the solar umbrellas? Who will pay for initial launch and then maintenance of the umbrellas? Can we really control the weather? I ask these questions and the possible answers are not very good. Sometimes as engineers we forget to look beyond the technical portion of the problem and thus miss dire unintended consequences. Unfortunately there are people in this world that would try to use something like this to control people and countries politically.

    James Wilson P.E., M.ASCE
    Charleston Water System
    Charleston SC

  • 3.  RE: A Bold Solution for Global Warming

    Posted 10-01-2019 10:04 AM
    Interesting idea, but I think scale is a problem along with the unintended consequences as James mentions.  People, animals, and plants are dispersed and adapted on this planet based upon repeatable weather patterns that usually change slowly.  I think we  humans are best suited to ride out the coming heat/weather and let mass migrations, extinctions, and advancing technology just work themselves out over the next few hundred years.

    Paul Bryant P.E., M.ASCE
    Moore SC

  • 4.  RE: A Bold Solution for Global Warming

    Posted 10-01-2019 12:00 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-01-2019 12:00 PM
    To search for research about this approach, use the keywords "geoengineering" and "solar radiation management". See Geoengineering: 'Plan B' for the planet
    Phys remove preview
    Geoengineering: 'Plan B' for the planet
    August 23, 2019 by Marlowe Hood Dismissed a decade ago as far-fetched and dangerous, schemes to tame global warming by engineering the climate have migrated from the margins of policy debates towards centre stage. "Plan A" remains tackling the problem at its source.
    View this on Phys >

    for a quick overview. The big drawback with geoengineering is that we would be using the only planet we have as an experimental subject in an uncontrolled study.

    W. M. Kim Roddis P.E., F.ASCE
    The George Washington University
    Washington DC

  • 5.  RE: A Bold Solution for Global Warming

    Posted 10-02-2019 02:36 PM
    This theory appears to run against the current peer-reviewed scientific theories regarding global warming. Engineers should design solutions to problems identified by the full body of scientific knowledge and should never try to design based on a minority public opinion that may be politically popular.

    Yance Marti P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer IV
    City of Milwaukee
    Milwaukee WI

  • 6.  RE: A Bold Solution for Global Warming

    Posted 10-03-2019 12:44 PM
    There's a good podcast that covered one of the earliest proposals to block out sunshine to avoid warming (http://outsideinradio.org/shows/ep100).

    I think that your idea focuses on the name of the problem, on the warming aspect. It forgets the other complications that are not covered directly by the name "global warming". Additional CO2 acidifies the oceans (Ocean Acidification is sometimes referred to as Global Warming's evil twin), messes with the food cycles, animals with shells and coral reefs. Blocking the sun won't change that.

    Block the sun too much and your plants and fitoplakton won't yield as much. Block the sun and reverse the temperature trend and it removes any incentive to reduce emissions or improving efficiency, bringing peak oil, peak gas and other resource "peaks" closer to today. Then what?

    Also, can you imagine all of the world collectively agreeing to such a project? Or some rejecting it and not wanting the shade to go over their territory whatsoever? We have trouble getting all to agree to simpler things like basic human rights or the scientific facts showing the world is warming.

    Kevin Acosta P.E., M.ASCE

  • 7.  RE: A Bold Solution for Global Warming

    Posted 10-03-2019 02:08 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-03-2019 02:07 PM
    Ideas of engineering and technological interventions like carbon sequestering, reflecting sunlight through space mirrors, seeding of space and ocean, etc. - to modify the warming global climate - have been floating around for some time. There are at least two NAP publications (2015) - (1) Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth. https://nap.edu/18988; (2) Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration. https://nap.edu/18805. These two documents discuss potentials of the proposed interventions - their viability and impacts.

    Many such ideas and experimentation perhaps rate as loud thinking now, but things have to start somewhere. At the same time, it must be realized that the Sun-Earth energy system has evolved over geologic time to a stage where we live now - but all are in a rather delicate (delicate, because our tolerance thresholds of many things are very narrow) dynamic equilibrium of stresses and consequences. Enhanced storminess and others, are an indication of instability in climate-fluidity, triggered by Nature's own variability and/or by human activities (Anthropocene Epoch started only in 1950; the 70 years of heavy human footprint is not even an instant in the geologic context of Sun-Earth system). These and the uncertainty of things make climate intervention proposals rather tricky and complicated.

    Here are some things in a lighter vein:
    • A scenario of interests and conflicts. The cold polar and sub-polar people of Scandinavia, Russia, Canada and northern USA: hold on, we are freezing down here and it's very depressing; we need more sunshine. The Equatorial people: good idea, it's very hot down here. The middle countries people: hold on, what about our beautiful season?
    • Global warming? What a beautiful gift of Nature! It's time to sharpen our skill to open the Northern Route, and exploit the treasure trove of minerals in the polar areas.
    • Coastal lowland communities? Mountains and midlands and sparsely populated, and are ready for sale.

    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Website: https://widecanvas.weebly.com

  • 8.  RE: A Bold Solution for Global Warming

    Posted 10-03-2019 05:03 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-03-2019 05:03 PM

    My thanks to all who have replied. I do not disagree with any comments offered. I in fact agree with all. As a Mining Engineer my education included geology, electrical engineering, thermodynamics and structural engineering. ASTM was never mentioned. When I registered as a Civil Engineer ASTM was discovered! 

    I am just exacerbated to hear politicians say that Global Warming is our greatest threat. (Chicken Little Syndrome).

    Why not a Solar Umbrella? Yes, if we launched 100 million possible long term effects could be disastrous. But if we launched a few and monitored them we could possibly learn something. Ben Franklin flying a Kite could have been a fatal error- but we all learned to install lightning rods from his work.  

    I think that the most important issue is that we humans can not affect the climate change! Our efforts might be futile.
    If we can't prevent it we need to prepare for it!

    As Engineers we are smarter than the average bear and we should lead by offering creative solutions.

    I believe that a few Solar Umbrellas should be built and launched to study the effects. Not a huge capital cost - but more than I can do as a private entity. The Space Force could really have a task.

    Richard LaPrairie P.E.,Peng, M.ASCE M.SME
    LMI Engineering L.L.C.
    Reno NV

  • 9.  RE: A Bold Solution for Global Warming

    Posted 10-04-2019 08:05 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-04-2019 08:05 AM
    Global Warming appears to be real and in need of a solution.  My personal opinion is that we should first try to reduce emissions and re-forest to the mid 1930 levels.  My understanding is that is what will be required to see a change in the trend within the next thirty to fifty years.  We should also take action to stop killing the oceans.

    Lester Germanio P.E., M.ASCE
    Austin TX