- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2010

As the age-old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Of late, there has been a whole slough of proposals for fixing the supposedly broken climate - the climate broken by too much global heat from too much human production.

One of the most popular of the crateful of technological recommendations requires injecting sulfates into the lower stratosphere to simulate a volcanic dust veil like the one produced by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in the summer of 1991. The Mount Pinatubo particles yielded about a 1-degree-Fahrenheit drop in global temperatures for more than a year. So, there is an example from nature that stratospheric sulfate injection may very well chill thermometers worldwide.

Another proposed fix would employ the time-tested practice of cloud seeding to increase cloud cover or brighten clouds so that more sunlight might be reflected back to space, thus cooling the planet.

Yet another nature-coaxing solution involves fertilizing the oceans with iron to nudge plankton to gobble up more carbon dioxide (CO2).

Other novel engineering-based ideas include something akin to “artificial trees” that are being designed to extract CO2 out of the atmosphere, mimicking their natural counterparts. This CO2 would be directed to underground storage as solids or trapped in the ocean. Tens of thousands of these devices would be necessary to absorb all the annual amount of CO2 emitted from the U.S. alone. The cost is estimated at nearly $600 billion per year.

So, it can be seen that more scientific, technical folks like biologists, atmospheric physicists and engineers have a stake in anthropogenic climate change. And joining the other scientists and mechanical and civil engineers in correcting the perceived off-balance climate are a wide variety of additional professionals, such as software engineers for carbon-emission tracking and reporting programs, economists, “cap-and-trade” brokers, entrepreneurs, investors and, of course, politicians and lawyers, lots and lots of politicians and lawyers.

Certainly, all this activity presupposes that humans are the guilty party to large-scale climate alterations. Thus, it makes sense that humans are ethically responsible for fixing the problem they created and must use all the human ingenuity available to reverse the anticipated dire consequences.

However, once all this fixing begins, when does it stop? Can it be stopped, especially when government bureaucracies and alliances are established and bags of grant money are stuffed to perpetuate the climate-change crisis?

And, what if it’s truly not necessary to begin with? What if the climate gatekeepers suddenly give the data a second look from a more objective perspective and find out they’re not omniscient or as prescient as they first believed?

After all, some of us remember that we have been down this road before. In the 1970s, as plunging global temperatures apparently were resulting in the advancing of glaciers, proposals were offered to stem the icy invader by, for instance, spreading sunlight-absorbing soot on the ice in order to melt it. If the soot solution had been implemented then, where would we be today? Still warmer, but tossing many more dirty snowballs.

For now, whether humans are culpable for climate change or not, everyone is finding his place in this airy gold mine, with some climate-fixers poised to reap billions of dollars within a few years of cap-and-trade regulation imposition. Too bad that the ones who will not have their conditions fixed with all the grandiose, opulent schemes are the ones who ostensibly are being helped by all the professional concern - the world’s poor.

Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist and principal author of “Environmental Risk Communication: Principles and Practices for Industry” (CRC Press/Lewis Publishers, 2000).