The Geoengineering Frame: A War for Our Minds
Article by David Schneider, contributing writer for geoengineeringwatch.org
Some may remember the Rio Earth Summit. History points to it as a turning point, when international co-operation “got serious” around a shared problem: dumping carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) into the atmosphere. It happened back in 1992, right as the lures of “climate intervention” were gripping the power structure, who were beginning to conspire yet another quick, cheap, and easy way to escape limits set by nature, while continuing to sweep the long-term damages under the rug. Of course regional weather has been messed with for many decades prior, with lots of damage to ecosystems, but climate intervention takes manipulations to the global scale; it’s a “move-the-sulfur” approach, taking it from smokestacks and putting it into the stratosphere. Grounded on a deep belief in human exceptional-ism and mastery over the rules that govern the universe, the power structure has once again turned to faith in scientific-ism as religion, and their scientist priesthood push the “geoengineering” agenda as the next phase in building an “Earthy paradise” free from all constraint. “Albedo enhancement” technologies that shield Earth from incoming sunlight are the preferred option to dealing with global warming, because it requires little behavioral change to business as usual, it can reduce risks to current generations almost immediately, and it sings harmonically with the tune of “endless growth.” Without solar engineering, the only option would be to allow Earth to restore herself, by us relinquishing our command, and face the harsh realities of suffering consequences from a warmed planet for millennia. The scientific approach is pitched as a more “humane way” to deal with the climate pickle we’re all stuck in together. Weather warfare began back in WWII, yet decades of command and control have only made things worse, not better. More of the same thinking, continued tinkering, will only remove more parts of nature that can never be brought back. Nature can only be poked at so long before she erupts in anger against her attacker.
Interestingly, at the same time the power structure assembled in Rio for the Earth Summit twenty-three years ago, they were also busy banging out the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which became the World Trade Organization (WTO). These two contradicting worlds (climate change negotiating and free trade) collided to fashion “sustainable development.” But since then, human emissions have only skyrocketed! In fact, 26% of all human produced emissions ever dumped into the atmosphere since industrialization, occurred over the past three decades! The public may be under the impression that U.S. leaders don’t “believe” in climate science or global warming. But that’s false. It’s all about the frame! In an engineering culture, all problems have solutions. If humans created global warming, then humans will re-engineer things to eliminate the problem. Admitting to global warming under a “geoengineering frame” does not make sense, because another techno-fix will be devised. If we engineered a problem, then we can engineer a solution; so global warming is just a matter of continued intervention in Earth’s climate system. If humans are responsible, then humans will resolve it – scientific-ism preaches. But often with complex systems, there’s the butterfly effect, the unanticipated surprises of chaos, when the cure can be much worse than the disease. It becomes a game of always prescribing new aliments for the side effects caused from the previous interventions – always having to up the ante to maintain satisfaction, creating further destruction of life processes. It’s become a super wicked problem where nemesis is meeting hubris. But, survival resources that create the foundation of life cannot simply be fixed, nor substituted and replaced by more technology. Disrupting the rain, the sunlight, the ability of Earth to respond to our assault and cool herself, is only making the situation much more dangerous.
Check any mainstream source today about solar geoengineering and spraying sulfur intentionally to cool Earth, and somewhere it’s guaranteed to compare the process to what large volcanic eruptions naturally do. It’s been dubbed the “Mt. Pinatubo Option,” after the large eruption that cooled the planet in 1991. But really, it’s coal power plants around the world that are the “world’s volcano,” constantly erupting nonstop, turning down the sunlight across the planet, shooting up a continuous supply of sulfur aerosols into our shared global atmosphere. Dirty pollution from Asia and across the world increases Earth’s “albedo” (not to be mixed up with libido, albedo is simply science-speak for the measurement of how reflective something is, where Earth’s albedo is measured in W/m-2). Burning fossil fuels has “accidentally” increased atmospheric albedo – the reflectivity of Earth’s atmosphere – which dims incoming sunlight and masks the average temperature of Earth in relation to our CO2 forcing. In other words, sulfur pollution from combustion is a form of “unintentional” solar radiation management. This, we’re all contributing to, each time we plug something into the wall, order a cheap product made in Asia, eat a hamburger, take a hot shower, or drive a car.
Today, we know why the power structure is hiding. In the late 80s, industrial rich countries began shifting their industry to the “developing world,” places that were happy to have a chance to join in the “good life” of economic success. Billions of people have been lifted from “poverty” as result, but it was not accomplished sustainably. If anything, massive industrialization in Asia has only made the risk of both economic and ecological collapse even greater, and the fall harder than it otherwise would be if leaders had just let the game end right then. But no. Instead, one of the first official acts George H. W. Bush did when he took presidential office was sign into law the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (1990 CAAA), which placed heavy regulation over sulfur pollution on America’s industries. Not an expected response from a Republican President following the Regan era of deregulation and laissez-faire. What was his motivation? Bush needed to address a mounting smog and acid rain crisis, and the amendments eased public concerns by adding Article IV-A to the Clean Air Act, requiring coal power plants in the U.S. to use coal with “low sulfur” content and install smokestack scrubbers on major polluting sources like power plants, that would clean the sulfur from the emissions and prevent their release into the atmosphere. Strangely, David Keith, the most recognizable scientist in the geoengineering debate, helped design the technology to scrub sulfur from smokestacks, and sell the techno-fix to industry! Not surprisingly then, today he is also part of Carbon Engineering, a company that is presently developing a system to capture carbon dioxide from the ambient air.
Since the sulfur pollution was “accidentally” increasing the albedo of the atmosphere, the 1990 CAAA would unmask global dimming. As the world shifts from dirty to clean economies, our sulfur pollution will be cleaned out of the air, and the albedo of the atmosphere will decrease, becoming less reflective, and allowing more sunlight in. A replacement must be found to maintain this shielding from the sun, say the power structure, otherwise the true folly of our human existence and unsustainable relationship with the natural world will be exposed! The big cover-up will be impossible to hide. Like with hiding a pregnancy, eventually the baby will be born. The gig would be up, and the bubble would pop! For the power structure, “albedo enhancement” becomes a critical part of the climate plan, because losing the current reflectiveness of the atmosphere exposes Earth’s ecosystems to further dangerous temperature spikes. The 1990 CAAA just shifted the pollution burden from the West to Asia, to buy time to allow scientists to design a more permanent solution to the “problem.”
But now leaders are grasping straws, because the choking pollution in Asia is demanding response from their public, and the planet is in meltdown. Factories in Asia, the thousands of coal power plants built over the past decade, do not have Keith’s scrubbers to remove the sulfur from the pollution. The coal used in Asia has high sulfur content and is illegal to burn as a fuel source in the U.S. These were conscious policy choices made by the power structure in the early 90’s to keep the dream alive. Rather than a massive scaling down of our ecological overdraw from nature, the issue of “solar radiation management” (SRM) became the preferred pathway for bypassing natural limits to economic growth, and was disguised as a global “conspiracy” to drive fear and confusion and keep people lulled to sleep and disinterested. Policymakers intentionally shifted this “accidental” modification resulting from industrialization of the West, to another region of the planet. Where do we draw the line of distinction between “intentional” and “unintentional” SRM? And what do we make of the ongoing disruption to the biogeochemical cycles of Earth? What of the bioaccumulation of heavy metals washing from the atmosphere, which end up in our water, our body, our soil and food?
Shouldn’t we be precautionary and not make choices today that are irreversible for those after us? Isn’t it scandalous to intentionally hide a problem, while continuing to produce throw away goods and expand fossil fuel use? The power structure shifted the sourcing of sulfur pollution necessary for maintaining the enhancement of Earth’s atmospheric albedo to Asia, and kept the world from seeing that everything’s actually a mess. Instead of exposing the issue and decarbonizing, they prescribed a new techno-fix to deal with the unintended side effects created by accidentally increasing the albedo of the atmosphere from industrialization, and consulted nobody. SRM effects Earth’s hydrologic cycle, its water system, and shreds stratospheric ozone that allows UVB light to penetrate to Earth’s surface. And now the power structure aims to prescribe the next fix in its long-line of tinkering, a stratospheric shield of titanium dust particles in the shape of diamonds, 0.1 microns – small little buggers! The spraying we all see over our towns is low to the ground, and has regional effects on weather systems. They can cover an entire continental land mass with cloud decks with these methods. That’s the “old” technology, the first generation, which allowed scientists to gather their data for computer modeling. But the new technology, the next generations, deemed the “solar shield,” will envelop the entire globe, where diamond dust will be dumped way up-high in the stratosphere, where one cannot even see an airplane flying from the ground without binoculars.
As industry sprang up at a warlike pace in Asia, thanks to the global power structure’s plan, air pollution in the West has become less contentious of a public issue. The industrialized Western world has come to adore “low prices” and bargain buys made possible by companies exploiting faraway places. People consciously choose not to connect the suffocating air pollution in China with ramping-up production of the new Apple Watch. They choose not to associate their lifestyles with contributing to the SRM albedo dilemma. To consumers, ignoring the problem is preferred. That’s why many people might just think that SRM is fine, or even a good idea when they learn about it for the first time, and be OK with it, and not allow themselves to see the obvious right up overhead that’s kept them fooled all along. People are not thinking very clearly these days; they allow their own observations to deceive them. It’s a hard pill to swallow, accepting this reality, because it means we are just chasing shadows of dreams that don’t exist. This fall, in Paris, a renewed (yet familiar) call for a “universal climate deal” is being peddled by the power structure as “the last chance for humanity,” a small window of time to take needed action in keeping global warming from rocketing into total catastrophe (as though we are not already there). The plan assumes geoengineering, and the debate is going public!! Get ready activists, because when it does, there will be a war on for our minds! The American public is OK with many surprising things, so it may be hopelessly optimistic to believe that the American public will be outraged when its government finally admits that they were spraying to “protect” everybody. The framing is strong, and people are happy with their simple pleasures and mindless pursuits. We all need to remain focused, now more than ever! Keep pushing the ball forward to disrupt the geoengineering “frame,” and block minds from getting misled!