Thursday, August 30, 2012

New paper proposes pumping sulfuric acid into atmosphere to fix non-existent problem

A geoengineering paper published today in Environmental Research Letters proposes spending $8 billion per year to pump 5 million tons of sulfuric acid [H2SO4] into the high atmosphere to reflect sunlight, to allegedly save the planet from the non-existent problem of anthropogenic global warming. The authors propose a 20 kilometer pipe connected to a "new aircraft design," but note their scheme has a "large uncertainty" that either the pipe or aircraft could fail, thereby spewing tons of sulfuric acid directly onto Gaia. 

The full paper is here and states the "albedo modification material" of choice is H2SO4, which is sulfuric acid.

Cost analysis of stratospheric albedo modification delivery systems

Justin McClellan1, David W Keith2 and Jay Apt3
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We perform engineering cost analyses of systems capable of delivering 1–5 million metric tonnes (Mt) of albedo modification material to altitudes of 18–30 km. The goal is to compare a range of delivery systems evaluated on a consistent cost basis. Cost estimates are developed with statistical cost estimating relationships based on historical costs of aerospace development programs and operations concepts using labor rates appropriate to the operations. We evaluate existing aircraft cost of acquisition and operations, perform in-depth new aircraft and airship design studies and cost analyses, and survey rockets, guns, and suspended gas and slurry pipes, comparing their costs to those of aircraft and airships. Annual costs for delivery systems based on new aircraft designs are estimated to be $1–3B to deliver 1 Mt to 20–30 km or $2–8B to deliver 5 Mt to the same altitude range. Costs for hybrid airships may be competitive, but their large surface area complicates operations in high altitude wind shear, and development costs are more uncertain than those for airplanes. Pipes suspended by floating platforms provide low recurring costs to pump a liquid or gas to altitudes as high as  ~ 20 km, but the research, development, testing and evaluation costs of these systems are high and carry a large uncertainty; the pipe system's high operating pressures and tensile strength requirements bring the feasibility of this system into question. The costs for rockets and guns are significantly higher than those for other systems. We conclude that (a) the basic technological capability to deliver material to the stratosphere at million tonne per year rates exists today, (b) based on prior literature, a few million tonnes per year would be sufficient to alter radiative forcing by an amount roughly equivalent to the growth of anticipated greenhouse gas forcing over the next half century, and that (c) several different methods could possibly deliver this quantity for less than $8B per year. We do not address here the science of aerosols in the stratosphere, nor issues of risk, effectiveness or governance that will add to the costs of solar geoengineering.


  1. Stupidity beyond belief. The antics of Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless are more plausible than this.

    "We do not address here the science of aerosols in the stratosphere, nor issues of risk, effectiveness or governance that will add to the costs of solar geoengineering."

    So, one wonders what the motivation is?
    Public confession of stupidity? Unlikely. Someone somewhere (probably the taxpayer) has paid for this nonsense.

  2. I know the cost would be considerably higher, but why not try these schemes on Venus. I'm sure the Venusions won't mind. I wonder what Venus would be like if you could shade it and bring the temps down to something not resembling a furnace.

  3. Aircraft we don't have, piping we don't have and it is economically feasible. Has anyone looked for correlation between the acid rain phobia (fuel sulfur reduction) and "global warming"? Maybe we were being saved by sulfate diffusion into the upper atmosphere. So, let's raise the fuel sulfur standards for 30 years and see. That would have more benefit that the pipe-in-the-sky plan.

    I'm continually amazed at what passes for learned science these days.

  4. Yes, let's pump sulfuric acid into the air and burn everything. Notice how they admit they don't even know what they're talking about! Another junk paper. It won't come to fruition. Geoengineering has been proposed for centuries, and no one has successfully done it.

    I wonder how much money was put into this paper?