Saturday, January 29, 2022

"Manipulating the Climate: What Are the Geopolitical Risks?

As with biowarfare, climate war has the great feature of deniability among other attributes. From a Chinese colonel's discussion of the former:

...As Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz said, “War . . . is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.”

Clausewitz scholar Wu Qiong adds, “Conceptually, to deprive the enemy of the power of resistance is the real aim of war.”

Compared with wars in the past, war through the command of biotechnology will guarantee the free application and security of our own biotechnology and, ultimately, lead to success through ultramicro, nonlethal, and reversible effects. Biotechnology is likely to bring about profound changes in the military domain and will contribute the utmost to the protection of civilization....

And from The Rand Review, December 29, 2021: 

The snowstorm seemed to come out of nowhere. It coated the roofs of Beijing in a white glaze and brought traffic on a dozen highways to a standstill. The city, caught in the grip of a decade-long drought, had not seen so much precipitation in months. It was anything but normal.

In fact, the storm in February 2009 was the result of a remarkable confluence of cold air, cloudy skies, and 313 sticks of silver iodide fired into the atmosphere by weather engineers hoping to make something out of nothing. Their success in tinkering with the weather underscores a growing risk that has not received the serious international debate it deserves. What happens if someone in our ever-warming world decides to tinker with the climate?

Technologies that could block the sun's rays or siphon huge amounts of carbon from the air are not that far out of reach, a recent RAND analysis found. They could have world-altering consequences that would make a snowstorm in Beijing look mild by comparison. Yet the international community has not built any real consensus around such basic questions as when such technologies would ever be used, how, or by whom.

“Some of these technologies have been almost taboo to talk about,” said Emmi Yonekura, a physical scientist at RAND who helped lead the study. “But if we don't get our act together with climate mitigation, there might be real pressure to turn to them in the future. We want to make sure that we can do it safely and with some understanding in the international community.”

In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson received the first presidential briefing on climate change. At the time, geoengineering—the intentional manipulation of the climate—was presented as one of the only possible solutions. Proposals since then have ranged from the fanciful (dropping billions of white balls into the oceans to absorb sunlight) to the formidable (unfurling a giant sheet of reflective mesh between the Earth and the sun). Those ideas may sound “outlandish and upsetting,” one scientific journal acknowledged—but they could give us an emergency brake to pull if we can't stop global warming.

Yonekura teamed up with fellow RAND researcher Michelle Grisé, an expert in international law, to look at where geoengineering is now, where it's going, and what the international community should do to prepare. They found that the technology is coming up fast. It's the policy that has fallen behind.

Their analysis focused on two major lines of ongoing research. 

One would scrub the air of carbon pollution. That could involve massive filters and underground pumps—or it could mean seeding the oceans for phytoplankton and planting new forests to inhale carbon. It would be expensive. It would be slow. But it would take direct aim at the problem, slowing or even reversing the buildup of atmospheric carbon that is driving global warming.

The other option would seek to block some of the sun's energy—not with a giant space mesh, but with tiny particles suspended in the stratosphere or dusted onto clouds to make them reflect more light. It would be quick and relatively inexpensive—but carbon would continue to build up in the atmosphere. If we ever let those sun-stopping particles dissipate, the effect could be the climatic equivalent of opening a shaken-up bottle of carbonated water.

“You can see how this could lead to conflict, if you have two countries with different interests,” Grisé said. “And what we found is that there's really no road map for how to deal with problems that could arise as these technologies mature.” 

It would only take one country—watching its crops shrivel or its water run dry—deciding to take a chance to set a global climate experiment in motion. The effects could get out of hand quickly. In 1991, for example, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo blasted tons of gas and dust particles into the upper atmosphere. Those particles cooled global temperatures by around half a degree Celsius, proof that it could be done. But that then shifted the jet stream, giving northern Europe an unusually warm winter while the Middle East froze....


If interested see also: 

U.S. Army Mad Scientist Blog: "Shén fēng: Military Use of Weather Modification Technology" 

Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025"—U.S. Air Force

Possibly related:

Iranian general says Israel stealing Iran's clouds

The head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization claims Israel is 'working to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain,' insisting this was confirmed by an Iranian scientific study; but head of Iran's meteorological service says 'it is not possible for a country to steal clouds.'...MORE