Keep the Sun Shining
December 16, 2010
It’s been a while since Flow tackled the issue of geo-engineering — the theoretical science of not just reducing our emissions to address climate change, but actively trying to change the climate. Perhaps because the proposed technologies are nearly all as drastic as you’d expect from a science based on literally engineering the planet — installing CO2 “scrubbing” air filters, encouraging CO2-consuming algae blooms — geo-engineering doesn’t often get a lot of attention. But now, one geo-engineering solution is getting a nod from none other than the United Nations itself, in the form of a proposed ban on any technology designed to block the sun.
While it’s easy to notice the oddly super-villain-like tone of a ban on massive orbital sun-blocking technologies, it’s also important to remember that any effective geo-engineering solution would necessarily involve the whole world. Allowing one country to unilaterally control the world’s climate would be an issue of national security.
The body responsible for this discussion is the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity, which has already issued another geo-engineering-related directive limiting the use of iron in the ocean as an algal fertilizer.
Solar energy is a phenomenal source of energy, with the Earth receiving a full 1.8×1014 kilowatt-hours of energy. According to the World Energy Council: “if only 0.1 per cent of this energy could be converted at an efficiency of only 10per cent it would be four times the world’s total generating capacity of about 3,000 [gigawatts].”
Rogue nations with massive mirrors and geo-engineering enthusiastic alike, beware:
We’re watching you.