Re-Engineering the Earth
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July 1, 2009: Various possibilities and risks of geoengineering are discussed in the article. One possibility would be to use giant zeppelins to pump sulfur dioxide into the higher layers of the atmosphere and dim it, which would lead to dramatic red sunsets, just like in Blade Runner. However, this effort to fight global warming would have significant side effects, including acid rain, and regional climate shifts, and it also wouldn't do anything about the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

However, such an approach to geoengineering would be vastly cheaper than implementing carbon dioxide reductions - so cheap that it might be within reach of the richest people on Earth, who might decide to "save the world" on their own. It is also possible that individual nations might go "rogue and implement such risky geoengineering strategies to save their own nations from the effects of global warming without getting the consent of the larger international community. Such nations might include Bangladesh, which is strongly threatened by rising sea levels. Other nations might similarly attempt to engineer the atmosphere to create an environment favorable to them, but which hurts regions elsewhere. This might lead to increased international tensions and even war.

Some of the other ideas the article proposes:



Game and Story Use

  • There is nothing that quite says Cyberpunk like giant zeppelins polluting the air to stop a different kind of solution, and producing blood red sunsets at the same time.
  • Conflicts over different geoengineering approaches might provide plenty of employment opportunities for player character mercenaries and saboteurs.
  • A geoengineering billionair might make a great supervillain with goals others might actually sympathize with.
  • Seeding the atmosphere with nanites to make more sophisticated changes to temperatures might be possible in the future.
  • Similar issues might arise with terraforming other worlds.
  • My favorite image from the article: The US President having to take a boat from the White House to the Capitol building. There's gotta be ways to use that Twenty Minutes Into The Future.
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