PIA18033~small
courtesy of NASA

  

 

The way out is via the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?   

– Confucious

 

This is another subject I’ve been avoiding.

But reading a post last week of Cheche Winnie, a  Kenyan blogger I follow (Cheche Winnie.com) because she provides an up close and interesting look into the very active wildlife/environmental situation in Kenya, I realized that I have to get going. For Kenya and many other places are hanging on the ropes.

The effects of climate change are felt almost everywhere now. In Canada we have a big increase in forest fires, abnormal heat events and unprecedented flooding. California and Australia are frequently burning. But our problems (at least in Canada) pale compared with those of east Africa where rainy seasons have disappeared year after year, savanna is turning to desert, and wildlife and domestic animals are dying in large numbers.

Because of this, Cheche says she was hoping that the Glasgow conference was going to result in some real action. Of, course it only resulted in the usual cautious, barely meaningful, promises to do something in the future. I was not surprised. I scarcely paid any attention to the news on it.

Climate change – causes and results – is a complex subject, one I hope to discuss in future posts because it’s an interesting, compelling problem, and yet one that each of us, as individuals, can do something about. Even if human societies as a whole choose to do nothing, you and I can do something.

To start off though I want to point out that there is a simple big answer.

The fundamental source of the heat is not carbon dioxide or methane, etc – it is the sun. The Earth would be very cold if it were drifting alone out in space, not attached to any star (such planets probably do exist). The Earth depends on the light coming from the sun, but at the moment we’ve transformed the atmosphere to something that can’t cope with the amount of sunlight we receive.

Though I’ve been thinking of this for at least 30 years, I’m not the first person to suggest that devices, such as a collection of mirrors, be placed in orbit around the sun, synchronous with Earth’s orbit, so they would always be between the Earth and the sun. The mirrors would be adjustable to direct more or less sunlight away from the Earth.

My own idea is slightly different. I would put up giant Venetian blinds in the same synchronous orbit.  These blinds would be adjusted to allow sunlight through them the same way they are adjusted in a house, except of course that they would be operated by remote control from Earth. If they aren’t too far away, they could include a means of focusing their light-dampening effect on specific regions.

On the other hand, the farther away from the Earth they are, the smaller they can be, and so cheaper.

This requires no new science. It doesn’t even require scientists. It’s an engineering problem, and not a particularly hard one.

“We can’t afford it,” is the usual response to such ideas. My response to that is – Could we afford to spend trillions of dollars fighting covid 19? That question was almost not even asked.

It would be far less expensive than the planned trip of astronauts to Mars that so many are enthused about.

It wouldn’t disrupt daily life or the economy in the slightest. Unlike some other proposals, like dumping iron into the oceans to stimulate algae, if something goes wrong a correction can be made in a few moments, at almost no cost. Once in place, the mirrors or blinds would cost little to operate.

What we should be doing now is putting up prototypes so they can be assessed.

Just think, if only one was out there right now, it could be alternately directed to East Africa, California, Australia, the Arctic, to reduce local temperatures and help those regions.

Looking more long range, these devices would directed towards places like the west Pacific ocean where they could counter the unusual heating that appears to be producing the increase in the number of ‘La Niña’ events that climatologists say are behind much of the climate change we are experiencing.

There it is. Why can’t we see that this room in which we feel so trapped has a door?

But don’t get your hopes up. There was no talk of this in Glasgow as far as I know.

An individual in a position of political power may appear who will appreciate that this is an answer (though it is not an answer for pollution, deforestation, over-population, species extinction, etc), but I don’t see anyone at the moment. Had Al Gore won the the 2000 presidential election against George Bush (which he lost though he received 1.5 million more votes than Bush), I think we might have these things out in space already (read Gore’s book The Future if you doubt me).

So we have to wait for this, even though it is time to act (do talk about it though).

But we can do more than wait. As I said earlier, there is a lot we can each do, including some things most of us have never thought of – to come in future posts.

2 thoughts on “Rescuing the Future | climate change | first the simple answer

  1. Sunlight reflecting mirrors to manage climate change – certainly an intriguing idea worth further research. By this time we as a species need to get serious about this issue.
    Here in British Columbia we had a record-breaking heat wave that accelerated melting of glaciers and made the headlines globally.
    Then, last week we had a so-called atmospheric river that led to once-in-a-century rainfall an consequent flooding and landslides.
    The situation was exacerbated by forestry practices that have lessened the soil’s ability to absorb rainfall.
    In spite of these events we have climate change deniers who wrongly say these events are just aspects of natural cycles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is interesting Alan. I look forward to hearing your additional thoughts in posts to come. “Why can’t we see that this room in which we feel so trapped has a door”? Indeed!

    Like

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