Geoengineering - Geophysical Systems Warfare

Readers may have come across references to the idea of trying to solve the climate crisis with some sort of positive action, rather than by merely trying to back out of what we've done already. See Reduce Global Warming By Blocking Sunlight and Space Ring Latest Implausible Warming Solution for examples. Reducing carbon emissions will not get rid of the CO2 already in the atmosphere.

Other efforts are being made to give human beings direct control over Earth's "thermostat." For example, Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen published a paper about injecting tiny particles into Earth's upper atmosphere Krakatoa-style to achieve solar radiation lowering similar to that seen after large volcanic erruptions.

But who would decide what methods to use? What about the unforeseen consequences of radical methods to alter Earth's climate? And how much power over climate should politicians and generals have?

You could also ask whether or not everyone on Earth has the same goals; Russian President Vladimir Putin has joked that gloabl warming might not be so bad (particularly if it reveals new oil and mineral deposits to be exploited).

Nation states seeking to affect climate deliberately might face opposing efforts. For example, if China decided that it liked the climate warmer, it could just burn more coal.

I think the most complete science-fictional reference to the idea of using geoengineering as a weapon is from the The War Against the Chtorr series by David Gerrold. The first novel, A Matter for Men, was published in 1984. At some point in the story, it starts to look like an alien species is trying to chtorraform the Earth, to make it more hospitable to alien life.

This idea is a variation on the notion of terraforming, a word coined by Jack Williamson in a 1941 short story. The idea itself was probably first suggested by Olaf Stapledon eleven years earlier in Last and First Men.

Update 06-Jan-2008: Thanks to readers who remembered the name of the movie; here's a screen shot of the earthquake machine from The Core.


(Destiny Earthquake Machine from The Core )

In the film, the creators of the Destiny system used the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) reasoning as the basis for pursuing an earthquake-generating technology. End update.

There was also a recent movie in which (as I recall) geophysical forces were marshalled to cause earthquakes in designated countries. Hopefully, readers will refresh my memory.

Via Terraforming War, a very nicely-done article with lots of good references. See also Scientists weigh risks of climate 'techno-fixes'.

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