Let’s Bomb The Global Warming Away!

Filed in Science and Health by on February 27, 2011

HuffPo has horrible science coverage. It’s a hotbed of anti-vax conspiracies and other woo. This article has to take the cake, though.

Scientists from NASA and a number of other institutions have recently been modeling the effects of a war involving a hundred Hiroshima-level bombs, or 0.03 percent of the world’s current nuclear arsenal, according to National Geographic. The research suggests five million metric tons of black carbon would be swept up into the lowest portion of the atmosphere.

The result, according to NASA climate models, could actually be global cooling.

From National Geographic:

In NASA climate models, this carbon then absorbed solar heat and, like a hot-air balloon, quickly lofted even higher, where the soot would take much longer to clear from the sky.

While the global cooling caused by superpower-on-superpower war could be catastrophic (hence the term “nuclear winter”) a small scale war could have an impact on the world climate, says National Geographic. Models suggest that though the world is currently in a warming trend, small-scale war could lower global temperatures 2.25 degrees F for two-to-three years following war.

Geoengineering is actually talked about fairly seriously in some circles. (Think of the period of the 70s relative short period of a slowdown in global warming – the aerosol effect) Most talk about more benign ways to geoengineer than nuclear weapons (nuclear winter is a well-known concept) like sulfate aerosols. I’ve always put this geoengineering idea in the bucket “you’re most comfortable with things you know the least about.” I don’t think it’s a good idea and I think geoengineering without reducing CO2 could have unintended bad consequences.

My favorite part is the end of the article.

The cons seem to outweigh the pros in the event of global cooling caused by even a small nuclear war.

Heh, no kidding.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Cpt Robespierre says:

    Even if one accepts the premise about nuclear bombs for geoengineering (and ignores that the effect would be short-lived), why does the piece imply a nuclear war would be necessary? It’s possible to detonate nuclear bombs without it being a war or starting one…

    *eyeroll at this whole thing*

  2. cassandra m says:

    USA Today had an article about geoengineering last week, too.

    What is interesting to me is that there are so very many unknowns with some of the ideas floating around as geoengineered solutions (and not one of them is anywhere near ready for prime time), but you can actually hear otherwise skeptics about climate change talk about this seriously. It is a refuge for the magical thinkers — that if climate change is real, then we’ll retreat to our labs and spend a ton of money creating a magic wand that will fix it.

    Which isn’t to say that geoengineering won’t have some place in ongoing solutions, but we know less about any of those solutions than we do just cutting back on carbon. And yet these geniuses continue to put their *faith* in some magic solution that won’t cause them to change their behavior. (But WILL cost them a bloody ton of money.)

  3. Phil says:

    I guess every cloud really does have a silver lining….

  4. fightingbluehen says:

    I always said I was more afraid of the global warming kooks than I am about actual global warming.

  5. Liberal Elite says:

    Well with the major cuts to the EPA’s research budget, who’s going to do the study before the nukes are deployed? Who is going to make sure this is safe AND wise?

    With an apparent official GOP position like this:
    “We don’t believe in global warming, so we should stop funding science that looks at global warming. After all, if it’s not real, then spending money on such research is just a waste.”

    The problem with fighting legitimate science by cutting the scientific research budget is that it comes back to bite you in the ass, big time.