Image source: timesonline.co.uk
At one time, I would have dismissed this kind of thing as science fiction, but since becoming a devotee of James Lovelock I am less dismissive of initiatives like these. If Lovelock is right, we have now reached a point where the mainstream sources of renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, etc) will not come on stream quickly enough to arrest global warming. Therefore, tech fixes are no longer just an option. The latest idea is for a wind-powered fleet of 1900 ships to traverse the oceans, sucking up sea water and spraying it from the top of tall funnels to create vast white clouds. These clouds would then reflect sufficient sunlight to cancel out the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide emissions. It has been estimated that the fleet would cost $9 billion to test and launch within 25 years, which is a fraction of the sum that the world’s leading nations are considering spending to cut CO2 emissions. What worries me, I guess, is that if such an initiative were to come to fruition, this might cause everyone to relax and carry on polluting with impunity. The fact the cloud ship idea is supported by Bjorn Lomborg serves to add to my concern.