(note: this is part 2 of a series on Dr. Edward Teller's important paper presented at the National Academy of Engineering Symposium on April 2002. Click Teller Dr. Edward link for complete series. For the not-so-left-brain of us, we have bravely interpreted Dr. Teller's Paper paragraph by paragraph and inserted our own loose translations. The 'translations' do not reflect Dr. Teller's opinions)
Active Climate Stabilization:
Practical Physics-Based Approaches to Prevention of Climate Change
Edward Teller, Roderick Hyde and Lowell Wood
Radiative Budget Control.
It’s appropriate to note at the outset that basic concepts for purposeful modification of the Earth’s radiative properties certainly aren’t original with us; they were proposed at least as long ago as 1979 by Dyson and Marland in the context of CO2-driven global warming, and perhaps most prominently by the National Academy of Sciences global change study group in 1992, which pointedly noted what appeared to them to be its surprisingly great practicality, and the similar findings by the subsequent study by the Intergovernmental Working Group in 1995.
(translation: "Other scientists have been considering plans like ours all the way up through the 90's, and some have even said that it's practical.")
What we’ve done in our studies, set in the context of the UN Framework Convention’s Article 3,5 is merely to mass- and cost-optimize previous schemes as well as to offer a few new ones, with a little attention given to how near-term studies of such optimized schemes for assuring climatic stability might commence.
(translation: "After we checked with the UN laws, we spent a long time trying to think up ideas that weren't too expensive, though we didn't get to any plans for how to get it rolling."
The comparatively rudimentary atmospheric and oceanic circulation models currently used to predict climate variability with time variously predict increases in mean planetary temperature between ~1.5 and ~5 K, for doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration from the pre-industrial level of ~280 ppm to
~560 ppm (and associated changes in the mean concentrations of atmospheric water vapor, other greenhouse gases such as CH4 and N2O and aerosols of various compositions and sizes, Earth-surface and -atmosphere reflectivity and radiative transport changes, etc.).
(translation: "It's going to get hotter and the Earth will have a lot more pollution coming right up")
Temperature changes of this magnitude-range would also be induced by a change in either solar heating or terrestrial radiative cooling of the order of 4 Watts/m2 in the space- and time-average, which is of the order of 2%.
Thus, if sunlight is to be preferentially scattered back into space, or the Earth induced to thermally radiate more net power, the characteristic surface area involved in changing net solar input by a space- and timeaverage of 4 Watt/m2 is ~10-2 Aproj ~ 1.3 x 1016 cm2 ~ 1.3 x 1012 m2 ~ 1.3 x 106 km2, where Aproj is the area which the solid Earth projects onto the plane perpendicular to the Earth-Sun axis; if a change is to be imposed uniformly over the entire Earth, it must be four times this size (i.e., the ratio of the Earth’s surface area to that of its disc).
(translation: "The type of air pollution reflects sunlight")
Radiative budget control on the scales of present interest thus centers on generating and maintaining coverage of this 1-2% fraction of the Earth’s surface – or, alternately, its Sun-presented disc – with one or another materials which substantially modify the transport of either incoming sunlight (i.e.,
insolation) or outgoing thermal radiation emitted at-or-near the Earth’s surface over this area.
(translation: " We have to put a kind of blanket between the Sun and the Earth's surface.")
If sunlight is blocked but terrestrial thermal radiation of ~20X greater wavelength is allowed to pass on out into space, then the Earth will cool by the desired amount – in the space- and time-average; conversely, if sunlight is allowed to pass through to the Earth’s surface, but terrestrial thermal radiation is blocked from escaping into space, then the Earth will warm by just the same amount – again, in the space- and time-average.
(translation: "If the sunlight gets blocked then the Earth will cool off, and if the sun is allowed in, then the Earth will warm")
Before delving into the first-level details of some of the best ways in which to accomplish this, it’s appropriate to point to the very important results of Govindasamy and Caldeira,6 who have shown that such fractional removal of insolation uniformly over the entire surface of the Earth not only results in temperature changes of the predicted amounts in the space- and time-average, but also preserves the present climate in its seasonal and geographic detail, at least down through the mesoscales in space and time which are treated more-or-less aptly by present-day global circulation models.
(translation: "Before we go into the best ways to artificially control our climate, a major scientific study showed that blocking just a little sunlight over the entire surface of the Earth consistently would keep the seasons and the temperatures relatively stable.")
These most notable modeling results – which are quite contrary to previous hypotheses unsupported by modeling, but which have been confirmed by subsequent work – indicate that terrestrial climate may be stabilized by addition or subtraction of insolation along the lines that we propose not only “in the large” but also in the considerable spatial and temporal detail of interest to the man-on-the-street who experiences the highest-frequency components of climate as the daily weather in his micro-climate.
(translation: "With the help of Supercomputer data compiled on climate modeling, we learned that Earth's climate could be stabilized by adding or removing cloud cover so well that not even the common man would notice the difference.")