Battlefield Earth: geoengineering as a weapon

For a variety of political and natural reasons, global warming affects some countries differently than others. Fragile economies and weak infrastructures tend to worsen the results of climate disruptions, a problem exemplified by Bangladesh’s vulnerability to monsoons, accelerating desertification in northern China, and, most visibly, Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in New Orleans. At the same time, warming and altered rainfall patterns may—temporarily—improve conditions for countries in extreme latitudes, increasing harvests in Canada and Russia for a few years. Similarly, intentional changes meant to fight global warming would also have differential results.

At the same time, the resources required for geoengineering projects can vary dramatically. A start-up company called Climos and the government of India have each begun to prepare tests of “ocean iron fertilization” to boost oceanic phytoplankton blooms, in order to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, at a cost of just a few million dollars. At the other end of the spectrum, projects like the injection of megatons of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to simulate the effects of a volcano would easily cost in the tens of billions of dollars—still within the means of most developed countries.

Source: Jamais Cascio in Foreign Policy.

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