Military Scientists Explore Planet-Hacking
By Noah Shachtman
Some of the military’s leading scientific advisers are looking into the idea of remaking the planet’s environment, to stave off global warming.
The idea of “geoengineering” — hacking the Earth’s climate, to prevent more radical changes — has been kicking around the scientific fringes for years. One scheme calls for adding iron to the ocean, to stimulate the growth of greenhouse gas-absorbing algae. Another for “loading the skies” with sulfate particles that “act as mini-reflectors, shading out sunlight and cooling the Earth.” A third, “covering the Arctic with dust.” Most mainstream climatologists have responded to the proposals with a combination of snickers and horror; the environment is such a chatoic system, they argue, that there’s no telling what such wholesale monkeying around with it will do.
In recent months, however, several “top institutions have launched efforts to study the subject,” the ScienceInsider blog notes. The Pentagon’s secretive JASON scientific panel is schedule to discuss geonengineering soon. The National Academies are hosting a workshop over the summer. The U.K. Royal Society should have study out by then, too.