WASHINGTON (AP) – The president’s new science adviser said Wednesday that global warming is so dire, the Obama administration is discussing radical technologies to cool Earth’s air.

John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month that the idea of geoengineering the climate is being discussed. One such extreme option includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays. Holdren said such an experimental measure would only be used as a last resort. Holdren outlined several “tipping points” involving global warming that could be fast approaching. Once such milestones are reached, such as complete loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic, it increases chances of “really intolerable consequences,” he said.

Twice in a half-hour interview, Holdren compared global warming to being “in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog.”

At first, Holdren characterized the potential need to technologically tinker with the climate as just his personal view. However, he went on to say he has raised it in administration discussions.

Holdren, a 65-year-old physicist, is far from alone in taking geoengineering more seriously. The National Academy of Science is making climate tinkering the subject of its first workshop in its new multidiscipline climate challenges program. The British parliament has also discussed the idea.

The American Meteorological Society is crafting a policy statement on geoengineering that says “it is prudent to consider geoengineering’s potential, to understand its limits and to avoid rash deployment.” Another geoengineering option he mentioned was the use of so-called artificial trees to suck carbon dioxide—the chief human-caused greenhouse gas—out of the air and store it. At first that seemed prohibitively expensive, but a re-examination of the approach shows it might be less costly, he said.

Great. So who creates the best air pollution on the planet? Can we outsource this job to China?

  1. green says:

    Going to…? WTF have those military KC130s been spraying in our skies over the last 15 years.

  2. Tomas says:

    #31. Chemtrails. But don’t go there. Only the awake will get it.

  3. George says:

    Wouldn’t it seem that if “we” decrease the amount of sunlight reaching the ground then the photosynthetic processes that absorb CO2 will decrease thus increasing atmospheric CO2?

  4. bobbo says:

    For any of you who don’t regularly watch the Daily Show, here is one of the best clips ever explaining how the repuglicans are confusing tryranny with losing within a democractic form of government. Its really quite good. “Democracy is supposed to taste like a shit taco when you lose.”

  5. Li says:

    Ha! My theory has been proven correct! This appears to be a public embrace of the long running secret aluminum aerosol program that NASA spilled the beans on a few years ago! The distribution system for this already exists; it’s being mixed into the jet fuel!

  6. MikeN says:

    #28 GregA, he is claiming denser ice, which means more of the ice is submerged, raising sea levels. Am I wrong?

  7. MikeN says:

    What is known is that it was the humans who “scorched the sky”, blocking out the sun’s rays, in an attempt at machine genocide–since the machines needed solar power to survive. In response and retaliation the machines subdued the humans and made them into sources of energy–batteries, in effect. Each human now floats in his or her own personal vat, a warm and womblike environment, while the machines feed in essential nutrients, in exchange for the energy they need.

  8. Li says:

    Your occasional blindness is at least made up for by your good choice of quotes some times, Mike.

  9. Mr. Fusion says:

    #36, Lyin’ Mike,

    #28 GregA, he is claiming denser ice, which means more of the ice is submerged, raising sea levels. Am I wrong?


    Being denser it takes longer and more energy to melt. As long as there is ice over the Arctic Ocean (and Antarctic Ocean) there is much more sunlight reflected. Open water means much more sunlight, or heat energy, being absorbed.

    Records amounts of new ice means that the old ice melted, the new ice will be a thinner cover, and not as strong. New ice will have an easier time breaking up into ice flows and allowing for more open water.

    Ice on water does NOT raise or lower ocean levels as the ice displaces an equal amount of water. As Greg pointed out, the danger to rising ocean levels is the land ice. Most of this ice is in the form of glaciers in Antarctica with a smaller, but still significant amount in Greenland and some of Canada’a far northern islands.

    Much of the Antarctic ice shield has been breaking off lately. This allows more open water to absorb sunlight energy which warms the water and causes more of the ice shield to melt. The oceans are the major heat sink in the earths climate. Raising the oceans temperature will cause major reactions on the earth’s climate.

  10. BubbaRay says:

    Mr. Fusion, yes. Just as an ice cube outside a glass of water cannot raise the level in the glass, land based ice can’t raise the sea level. Well, until it melts into the seas. Then goodbye, NYC. Ice already in the glass melting has no effect at all. Sea levels won’t rise from melting floating or sea bound ice.

  11. GregA says:


    In Antarctica that land based ice is the size of Australia and a mile thick…

  12. MikeN says:

    #39 conFusion,
    again you show an inability to read. You said the older ice was denser, and I said that this means it will raise the sea level. I made no mention of reflecting sunlight, time to melt, energy being absorbed, or ice floes. Again you give a book report answer without reading.

    I asked if denser ice causes the water level to rise, which I believe it does. Plus ice on water does raise the water level. You are conFusing this with melting ice on water keeping the water level the same.

  13. MikeN says:

    >land based ice can’t raise the sea level. Well, until it melts into the seas.

    Actually, with regards to global warming models, there is no loss of ice on land. It is too cold in Antarctica for the ice to melt even with global warming. Instead the water will be warmer, causing more precipitaion, and an INCREASE in ice there, offsetting the decreases in Greenland. The reason for the sea level rise is that water expands.

  14. The Elite Establishment says:

    Damn, you guys figured out our plan to increase worldwide production of material goods with the by-product being more pollution using standard power/resources. We have found that third-world slaves function better with a slightly increased standard of living, thus the need for more resource use and the resulting pollution that ensues.

    Guess its time to send old Al out with another cover story. Perhaps he can call it an Inconvenient Solution.

  15. Toxic Asshead says:

    The true beauty here is we can cool the planet this way so we don’t need to sacrifice our SUVs and lower our standard of living. It’s unnecessary. I could start to like this Obama guy.

  16. Change We Can Distrust says:

    It’s fascinating to be here, alive and well, reading in 2009 about all these ideas man has, that if we continue to sail across life, using nuclear power or coal, we will fall off the earth.

  17. Mr. Fusion says:

    #43, Stooopid Lyin’ Mike

    No. Sea ice will not raise the level if the ice melts. For your own experiment, get a tall glass, fill it half full of water and then add enough ice to bring the water just below the rim. Mark the water level on the outside of the glass. Wait until all the ice in the glass has melted and then check the water level to the mark you originally made. The water level will not have changed.

    This is a very old proof allegedly discovered by Archimedes. An object will only displace an equal mass of water, whether it floats or sinks. Not more, not less.

    An object’s density is measured by how much water it displaces (volume) divided by the mass of the object.

    It is too cold in Antarctica for the ice to melt even with global warming.

    Not true. The ice melts every year on some beaches. That is where many penguins breed. Most of the Antarctic does not melt though.

    The reason for the sea level rise is that water expands.

    While it is true that water expands as it is heated, that expansion is totally insignificant in the general order of things. Most of the heat in the oceans is in the top layer. You don’t have to go down very far to find very cold, stable water. Depending upon where you are, that level could be only a few feet or up to 50 feet.

    Yet it is that top layer of warm water that has the greatest impact upon out climate. A few degrees is all it takes to fuel huge storms.

  18. Wind Oil says:

    Windmills draw power from the grid to keep the turbines lubricated when there is no wind. It’s like starting a car engine regularly so that it doesn’t seize. Since the grid is based on coal and nuclear, you can be assured that this will fit in with this new scheme of polluting to stop global warming.

  19. Billy Bob says:

    Holden is a Berkeley kook and disciple of Paul “the world will run out of resources and zombies will be eating each other by 1980” Erlich.

    It shows something about Obama that he chooses such a person as his science advisor.

  20. MikeN says:

    ConFusion, learn to read, and stop trying to impress people with long answers.

    You talk of sea level rise, but I said the same thing, only in your long-winded explanation, you get the facts wrong. A submerged object displaces according to volume, not mass.

  21. MikeN says:

    >An object’s density is measured by how much water it displaces (volume) divided by the mass of the object.

    Nope, perhaps you need the SAT math course too.

  22. aslightlycrankygeek says:


    Fusion is correct even though you caught him on a few details. The volume displaced by any object is always equals to the volume underwater. However, if the object floats, the mass of the water displaced is equal to the mass of the entire object as well.

    As the mass reduces, less water is displaced, but percentage of it underwater will also reduce.

    The situation is different, as Fusion mentioned before, when you speak of land ice, like Antarctica. Maybe you are right that global warming could not cause enough warming to melt that ice, but I have seen some reports of that ice breaking off recently from something.

    Either way, I don’t see the problem in his conclusions.

  23. Paddy-O says:

    # 47 Mr. Fusion said, “An object’s density is measured by how much water it displaces”

    Huh? So, by your “reasoning” an submerged mass of lead measuring 1 cubic meter will displace more than a submerged 1 cubic meter hollow glass cube?

    What grade did you last complete?

  24. Buzz says:

    Any matter used to cool the Earth would have to reflect light energy out of the Earth/atmospheric system.

    If particulates could be thrown into orbit between Earth and the Sun, then the lack of some percent of sunlight might cool the earth, but those particles would heat up outside the atmospheric system. Once out there, they would be hell to control. Oops, too cool!

    Particles in the atmosphere heat up. No advantage there.

    Whatever real geoengineering concepts are being discussed seriously, the ones that made it into this story aren’t them.

    So much upset. So little understanding.

  25. HereYouGoAgain says:

    bla, bla, ice melting… bla, bla, no it’s not… bla, bla, bla…

    Sound like you guys are mastubating your egos again.


    As to this story, again treating the symptom never mind dealing with the source of the problem.

    Maybe the planet is doing to use what we’ve benn doing to it…

  26. MikeN says:

    #52, first of all Fusion doesn’t have any conclusions, just a long sniper attack.

    Now my original question was whether denser ice would raise sea levels over regular ice, as Fusion claims the older ice is denser.

    Now, you are right that objects displace the volume underneath as well as their mass. Now if you have denser ice, then this should be heavier, submerging more ice, and displace more water, causing a rising sea level, correct?

    >More conFusion
    >get a tall glass, fill it half full of water >and then add enough ice to bring the water >just below the rim.

    This contradicts your statement of

    >Ice on water does NOT raise or lower ocean levels as the ice displaces an equal amount of water.

    How am I supposed to get the water to the top of the glass if ice doesn’t raise water levels?

  27. BubbaRay says:

    The density of water versus temperature is not a straight line.

    It is a curve, almost a parabola. Liquid water has its maximum density at 3.98 degrees C, and expands for BOTH hotter and colder.

    At exactly 3.98 degrees C, the thermal expansion coefficient of water is actually zero.

  28. Toxic Asshead says:

    It’s perfectly consistent that someone who believes man is causing global warming would also believe that man can engineer the climate.

    It’s the same level of science.

    Now, on to the whole water thing: Sometimes my turds float and sometimes they sink, but the water in the bowl raises same amount no matter what.

  29. Mr. Fusion says:

    #56, Stooopid Lyin’ Mike

    How am I supposed to get the water to the top of the glass if ice doesn’t raise water levels?

    Mike, I’m trying very hard to keep this simple for you.

    No one said or suggested the ice will raise the water level. Everything solid DISPLACES an amount of water equal to its volume unless the density is less that 1.0, than it will displace an amount of water equal to its mass.

    If you fill your glass part way with water then add ice, then the level of water in the glass will remain constant even after the ice has melted. (What I didn’t add is that the ice should float in the water) The ice will displace an amount of water equal to its mass since water has a density of less than 1.0.

    Bubba Ray is correct in the expansion (density) of water. However, for the rising of the oceans, that number is insignificant as it would only effect the top layer of the oceans.

    The density of the ice is insignificant in how much water it displaces. This density, which varies by age and compression, has more effect on the physical properties such as strength, elasticity, and heat retention than does new ice. New ocean ice is thinner and more prone to easy break-up than older ice.

    I’m sorry I tried to explain elementary physics to you.

  30. MikeN says:

    So no you don’t even know the meaning of words like ‘level’. OK.

    >I’m sorry I tried to explain elementary physics to you.

    Yes, it’s a bad idea to try and explain things in a fashion that would get you flunked out of elementary school.


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