Why is Geoengineered Cooling Bad and Untested if We Have Been Doing it With Sulfur Dioxide Air Pollution for Decades?

A report in Nature says that China’s sulfur dioxide air pollution has been geoengineering earth cooling by up to 0.7 degrees celsius for decades.

China reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from its power plants by 7–14% between 2014 and 2016. Mainstream climate models had expected China’s air pollution to increase. Lower pollution is better for crops and public health. China has over 1 million deaths from the particulate air pollution that also comes with the sulfur dioxide air pollution.

But aerosol air pollution, including sulfates, nitrates and organic compounds, reflect sunlight. This shield of aerosols has kept the planet cooler, possibly by as much as 0.7 °C globally.

This means China and the USA and other polluting nations were already accidentally geoengineering the planet for global cooling for nearly half the global warming effect.

So some of the pollution, the CO2, was bad and causing long-term warming, another part the soot and black carbon was really bad by making ice darker and increasing warming and another part was good for temperatures and increasing the cooling by reflecting sunlight.

China was solar engineering to save the world. But it was costing 1.2 million people in China to die earlier from heart and lung disease from the particulates.

Acid rain is caused by a chemical reaction that begins when compounds like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the air. These substances can rise very high into the atmosphere, where they mix and react with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form more acidic pollutants, known as acid rain.

The coal and other polluting plants can actually filter out the deadliest particulates while allowing sulfur dioxide to pass.

So there has been at least three parts to the whole emission story in terms of two things increasing temperatures and another part lowering temperatures.

The climate scientists need to explain to me again with this method of geoengineering or different ones involving specially built planes releasing material to create an artificial volcano is bad. We have been performing over three decades of geoengineered cooling already.

In 2019, Harvard scientists will start testing volcano copying geoengineering.

They will use a balloon suspended 12 miles above Earth to spray tiny chalk particles across a kilometer-long area, with the intention of reflecting the Sun’s rays away from the planet.

Restating the Nature Report in a Condensed Way Because the It Happened Aspect is Skipped

The Nature report is saying, the world has been geoengineering from up to 1.8 degrees Celsius of warming down to 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming for decades. They are saying that we are going to get accelerated warming because we are dialing down the sulfur air pollution. The pent-up warming is hitting because China is fixing its air pollution in an effective way. China is saving 500,000 of 1.2 million deaths by cleaning up its air pollution. The lives saved is mainly from particulate reduction. The temperature cooling effect is from the sulfur dioxide. The point of emphasis is past tense geoengineering and past tense is starting to stop doing it. And past tense starting to get pent up warming.

The reports could be wrong about the sulfur dioxide cooling but then it would seem they would be wrong about accelerated warming.

If they are right about accelerated warming and the cause of it then sulfur dioxide has been cooling.

There is error margin around the how much cooling from sulfur dioxide.

Emphasizing the Past Tense Aspects and the Three Primary Pollutant Components

The vast majority of the 7 million air pollution deaths per year (4 million outdoor air pollution, 3 million indoor) are from the particulates and soot. Particulates have a warming effect that is about 0.5 degrees celsius) and the kill most the people by a large margin.

If we wanted the “tested” geoengineered cooling then we continue releasing sulfur dioxide but try to modify the release to make it safer for people. We can still filter out all the particulates and work on the long-term reduction of CO2.

The science indicates we have 1.1 to 1.2 degrees Celsius of warming already. However, 0.5 degrees of it is from particulates and soot making white and reflective surfaces darker. Dark things absorb more light and heat and lighter reflects more light and heat.

We can modify the mix of status quo combination of pollutants being emitted that would move toward the desired target of less warming and fewer deaths. We need to save the 7 million per year and cool the climate. The inference from the Nature report and other science reports is

Sulfur dioxide up to 0.7 degrees of cooling – so we keep doing it but safe as possible
CO2 is 0.6 degrees of warming and rising – we dial that back as we are able
Particulates, soot, black carbon 0.5 degrees of warming and not rising as fast and 7 million death per year. Stop this entirely and as fast as possible. The speed is especially true since this 0.5 degrees warming elimination is twenty times cheaper and much faster to achieve than the CO2 fix.

32 thoughts on “Why is Geoengineered Cooling Bad and Untested if We Have Been Doing it With Sulfur Dioxide Air Pollution for Decades?”

  1. Sulfur Dioxide+moisture=sulfuric acid bad for eyes,lungs and skin when sweating. Is it not venus atmosphere made up of sulfuric acid? why then venus atmosphere is not cool?

  2. Because 1K cooling via reflection and 1K heating via greenhouse are not equal.

    Because reducing the amount of solar energy that impacts the Earth’s surface reduces the amount of energy available for farming at a time when the human population is booming and arable land is shrinking.

    Because you would have to keep up the SO2 emissions forever. At least thousands of years.

    Because you would have to invent a way of producing SO2 at industrial scales that doesn’t incidentally produce greenhouse gases and particulate pollution that kills people.

    Because you can put the energy you were planning on investing into SO2 emissions into energy for CO2 reduction and removal. Which is, you know, the actual problem.

    Because it doesn’t make sense to spend all this time and effort into not solving the actual problem.

  3. They ‘speculate’ about this because they need to have some sort of excuse as to why the global warming isn’t actually warming the globe.

    Expect this to get worse starting in ’20, when the new Little Ice Age kicks in. Then the entire Global Warming Fraud will go belly up. Finally.

  4. Personally, I like the idea of ocean iron fertilization the best. You actually sequester the CO2 and at least get some productive products like fish out of it. However, since the turn of the century the iron ore price has been quite high – probably due to Chinese development and its hard to see the price coming down any time soon. Until iron ore returns to lower levels I question how feasible this method is for off-setting global CO2 emissions. Having a read of Brian’s previous writing on the subject I think we would need to seed 200 million square miles of ocean with 100 tonnes of iron ore per square mile. So about 20 billion tonnes?

    If iron ore was at $15/tonne then that is only $300 billion globally per year, plus you get some economic return. However, its in contrast to only a few billion dollars for solar radiation management. Also not just SO2 injection but also marine cloud brightening seem quite cheap.

  5. Red Turtle??? How’d I get that name. Yes, I forgot to log in before commenting (it used to be automatic), but I’ve never seen a commenting system that assigns a name out of the blue…

    Anyway, about high latitude warming and extreme weather events:

    Raising planetary albedo via high altitude aerosols is most effective in the tropics and temperate latitudes — which get the most sun. Little effect at high latitudes. Warming there is due to reduced radiative heat transfer through the atmosphere. That’s a function of greenhouse gas levels, not nanoscale aerosols.

    Higher frequency of extreme weather events is mostly due to weakened confinement of the jet streams. The northern jet stream meanders more widely, and can drive more southerly air masses northward and arctic air masses southward. It can also develop quasi-stable loops that hold weather systems in place for unusually long intervals. The weakened confinement is due to weaker convection in the Ferrel and polar atmospheric cells. The weaker convection in those cells is due to reduced temperature differentials between polar and temperate latitudes.

    Or so I understand.

  6. That’s a good statement from GG of the real-world considerations that make any geoengineering efforts problematic. No matter what, you can be pretty sure someone — or a class action group of someones — will sue.

    I also agree that if we do go with geoengineering — as it seems we’ll have to — there are better options. Fertilizing the salmon feeding grounds in the North Pacific is probably one. But to address Brian’s questions about the high altitude particulate approach specifically, here are some objections I’ve heard, plus one of my own:

    1) It does nothing to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels, and therefore does nothing about ocean acidification. Ocean acidification looms as a pretty big problem in its own right, even if it doesn’t get as much attention as warming and extreme weather events;

    2) In giving the impression that the problem has been handled, it effectively undercuts efforts to deal with the real problem of rising atmospheric CO2 levels;

    3) It’s not a permanent fix. The injections would have to continue indefinitely. If they were interrupted for any reason, after a couple of years warming would come roaring back with a vengence.

    4) While there’s no question that it could reduce global average temperatures, it would likely not reduce warming at high latitudes or the frequency of extreme weather events.

    I guess I’ll have to explain that last point in another comment. There seems to be a character limit for commenting that’s being enforced.

  7. Don’t confuse climate scientists with greenies.

    Sorry, but one can’t. See, they all keep quiet and don’t rock the Grant Gravy Train boat, which is why all the loud greenie ones establish the rap that they do.

    In other words, I hold them responsible for the “scientific consensus” BS the most. If they will just speak up, it would shatter the myth of said consensus.

  8. It is ‘bad’ because the Watermelons and their Greentårded Useful Idiøts do not want real solutions. That will kill their gravy train, see.

  9. There is also a report out called Global dimming. Where they speculate that the temperatures have been held low cause the particulates in the atmosphere are reflecting the sunlight. They also say that that effect is limited and that once a threshold is reached then the warming will accelerate rapidly. That kind of supports you position.

  10. Yet another denier. You grab information and conclusions that the scientists do not do and then come to the conclusion to fit your narrative. Can’t you thiink just for one moment that the Oil companies have been fighting the Global Warning people for years. Why would the be doing that if it was to take over the world. I will say that wearing that tin foil hat of your in cold weather will make you think the warming is a lie.

    Link to just one nationally or internationally recognized scientific organization in the world that agrees with you.

  11. Haven´t you understand that the war about climate have nothing to do with climate just power to rule.

    We live in an 2,6 million long ice age, this period is some what warmer, the one before was much warmer, 6000 years with 8 C higher temperature but only 25% of Greenland’s ice sheet get lost….

    Mass production of walk away safe GenIV and even fertilize ocean with same amount iron oxide as they get from sand storms in preindustrial time hates from the climate alarmists.

    No one have ever been able to detect an higher greenhouse effect in earth atmosphere as function of higher CO2.

    The just want to get rid of democracy.

    It is colder climate we should be fried of. Se Niels Bohr Climate Instutute for objective information:


  12. That might work, I guess that it needs to be tested first, and yet there could be even more benign compounds. For the meantime there is a huge potential in doing more of what we are already doing. deploying renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency. As far as geo engineering, if we tip the scale from loosing 4 billions trees every year to adding 1 Billion, that will also have a huge effect, and for sure it will help heal the planet not only the air long term at a very little cost.

  13. Haven¨t you Brian understand that the war against climate is not about climate neither environment?

    The war i all about power from high energy taxes.

    That´s why mass production of walk away safe nuclear and geoengineering are hate objects for climate alarmists.

    No one have ever detect higher greenhouse effect as function of higher CO2 in earth atmosphere, not even higher at all.

    34 million years ago the global temperature differences increased and the mean temperature fell as function of the fact that energy radiate increasing with the power of four to the temperature.

    2,6 million years the global climate was so cold that this ice age started.

    Some interglacials including the one we now live in.

    The before was much warmer. 6000 year with 8C higher temperature just reduce Greenland’s ice sheet with 25%.


    Not even fertilize ocean with same amount iron oxide they get from sandstorms in pre industrial time is ok for climate alarmist.

    The goal is to get of democracy and don´t have to win election that ordinary people have anything to say.

    Look up my argument and try to find if they are wrong.

  14. There is still time to limit global warming to 2°C. Once we hit that target i find it unlikely we would suddenly stop any efforts. Wat are we going to do with excess energy from renewables? Some of it might serve to charge batteries from EV but i suspect some of it will serve to capture carbon and tranform into usefull molecules.
    Here is a credible prediction that sees an inflexion point for EV around 2023. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4225153-evs-oil-ice-impact-2023-beyond
    There is a lot of room for massive reforestation, in fact i predict wood will become the most important building material again. We can build tall structures with it, we can build them faster, they are good isolation for sound and warmth, and they can be build fireproof.

  15. So the nature report is saying we have been geoengineering from up to 2.0 degrees celsius of warming down to 1.3 degrees celsius of warming for decades. They are saying that we are going to get accelerated warming because we are dialing down the sulphur air pollution. The pent-up warming is hitting because China is fixing its air pollution in an effective way. China is saving 500,000 of 1.2 million deaths by cleaning up its air pollution. The lives saved is mainly from particulate reduction. The temperature cooling effect is from the sulphur dioxide. The point of emphasis is past tense geoengineering and past tense is starting to stop doing it. And past tense starting to get pent up warming

  16. Also the vast majority of the air pollution deaths are from the particulates and soot. Those also have a warming effect and kill most the people. If we wanted the “tested” cooling. then we continue release sulphur dioxide but in the safest way for people and filter out the particulates and work on the long term reduction of CO2. That would be the modification of the status quo of the combination of pollutants being emitted that seems to move toward the desired target of less warming and fewer deaths. We need to save the 7 million per year and cool the climate.

  17. Or death by sniffles – literally with AIDS.

    Not taking a 95% chance of your cure for a cold that I know I will eventually get over is called wisdom. 5% chance it will kill you is way too high – about 2X probability that flight on space shuttle will kill you.

    I am against geo-engineering. We can’t agree on much as a species – there is no consensus of what is good for ‘us’ or Gaia.

    [insert environmental concept here] is “beyond the limits of national jurisdiction should be treated as a common heritage of mankind” – a wikiquote. THAT MEANS: IF YOU TOUCH IT, WE WILL WHIP YOU, FOOL.

  18. BlueSeahorse’s comment encapsulates the primary gotcha: when millions (billions) of unthinking humans (and their cows, chickens, sheep and fish farms) belch sulfur dioxide, sulfides, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, intermolecular compounds, chlorinated HCs and so forth, to dose up Nature pervasively … even when the health effects are quite negative, the practices are largely left alone. Too many people contribute, and there is no easy target for remediation.  

    When The Stratospherics Group (made up) pitches for a cool 3.3 billion a year, that they’ll safely inject Mount Pinatubo’s sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, at 15 high mountain locations worldwide … and they do so … and it costs $8 billion (naturally) a year, … and someplace in Southwest France has an unexpected drought, and Northern Spain suddenly gets Monsoon floods, and all that … whaddya think? There going to be a lawsuit?

    BECAUSE there are billions of dollars concentrated in a small handful of entities that ostensibly are culpable. Not billions of people driving cars, 18 wheel trucks, diesel transoceanic ships, and so on.  No one to sue.  

    That’s the most important aspect that renders the nice-sounding idea sterile. 

    After that, as experiments go, I’d much rather that we suck up carbon dioxide by fertilizing the salmon-feeding grounds of the North Pacific. Millions of tons of fish, lots of CO₂ ensconced, easily reversible, very easily do-able.


  19. I will do an experiment to cure your cold, there is a 95% chance it will work and a 5% chance it will kill you. If you say no you are irrational because i have a good track record. The problem with complex systems is that there are often assymmetries and second order effects we do not understand. So the absence of a percieved risk is not an absence of risk, because we’ll only find out when it happens, that’s called a black swan. Remember Fukushima, those walls where also calculated to withstand anything, and then they weren’t. The financial system was also rocksolid as calculated by quantitative finance, and then it crashed.
    I am not against geo-engineering, but it should only be used as a last resort. So if humanity is in accute danger, then i will gladly take that 5% chance of failure.

  20. Yes, but the plans state they will have to replenish the sulfur at a certain rate to keep the effect constant. It falls down eventually, just like volcanic emissions.

  21. Acid rain is indeed a problem when sulfur dioxide comes out of smokestacks and other normal pollution sources. The proposed geoengineering technique is to inject it directly into the stratosphere, far above the level where rain originates.

  22. Don’t confuse climate scientists with greenies. Many actual climate scientists are pro-nuclear and many of them are open to geoengineering and think it might well be necessary. They have their usual scientific caution but they know the alternative is worse.

    There is a downside to relying on solar radiation management too much: if we ever stop doing it, all that pent-up warming hits us at once. It also doesn’t help ocean acidification. But it can buy us time while we fix the problem for real.

  23. Here in Sweden, acidification of lakes and forests due to acid rain has been a long lasting problem. The source of the acid has historically been the UK (coal) and to a lesser degree, other parts of EU. In the 70-ies, Sweden deployed a program to neutralise the acid with lime. In its peak (year 2000), 200000 metric tons of lime were dispersed yearly. Acid rain has decreased by ~80% the last 25 years and the limewashing is currently at a level of 100000 tons concentrated to the most damaged lakes and forests. When measuring the number of species in lakes, there is a 2x difference between non-treated and treated environments. Other negative effects on acid eco systems are also documented.

    So – acidification problems are real and well documented.
    How does the proposed geo engineering compare to the historical pollution levels?

  24. I think we need to weigh side effects of releasing sulphur into atmosphere with global warming and decide which will take less lives.

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