Save the planet, and win a T-shirt?

February 10, 2009

 If you come up with an idea for saving the planet from global warming, you may be the lucky winner of a T-shirt emblazoned with your design.

A group opposed to large-scale intervention in nature to change the climate – such as placing vast mirrors in space to reflect the sun’s rays or fertilising the oceans with iron to promote the growth of algae that soak up greenhouse gases from the air – wants to hear of any zany ideas by April Fool’s Day.

Canada-based ETC Group, which says it works for conservation of ecological diversity and human rights, says the winner of what it calls the “pie-in-the-sky” contest will get a T-shirt and ETC will publish a cartoon of the winning entry on its website.

“The winning submission will be original, ludicrous and contain at least a nano-shred of perverse logic,” ETC says. “Industrialization geo-engineered us into the climate mess in the first place, and some companies and scientists are crazy enough to  think they can geoengineer us out of it,” said Kathy Jo Wetter of ETC Group.

But are all these ideas really so daft?

Proponents of geo-engineering says that short-cut fixes are worth studying in a world where governments are failing to rein in rising emissions of greenhouse gases, from factories, power plants and cars.

And warming already under way could cause far bigger damage — from heatwaves to rising sea levels — than any impact from the novel technologies. The picture at the right shows chimneys at a chemical factory at Tianjin in China.

Serious proposals from scientists include deploying a vast thin metallic barrier between the earth and the sun, with 100 space shuttle flights, or spraying a smoke of tiny polluting particles high in the sky to dim sunlight.

(Volcanic eruptions can, at least temporarily, cool the planet by spewing out smoke that masks the sun — the picture at the top is of the Llaima volcano in Chile last year, taken by Ivan Alvararo. One suggestion in the spirit of ETC’s contest: drop atom bombs down a remote volcano to trigger eruptions: that would fix the climate and help get rid of ageing Cold War stockpiles)

The U.N. Climate Panel, drawing on climate research by about 2,500 experts, advised caution about geo-engineering in a report two years ago. Such technologies “remain largely speculative and unproven, and with the risk of unknown side-effects”, it said.

Who’s right? Is geo-engineering the way to save the planet or a dead end? 

And if you have any ideas (zany or not), try them out below:

14 comments

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The world is looking tword a scientific principle to solve the environmental crisis. Even if we immediately stop all carbon output, the earth will take several generations to return to normal. Hence, we need something that can work more quickly. I propose enacting a spiritual Principle instead. When one or more people get together in prayer, results happen. Do not be too quick to dispel my theory, there is more scientific data to prove that this principle works than mirrors in space. Everyone needs to pray to God for the earth’s climate to return to normal. It is our only rational course of action.

Posted by Mike Zelechowski | Report as abusive

Everyone should buy a bottle of Sea Harbor Clam Juice. The Boston Globe heralds it as “The Sea in a Bottle” per the tag on the bottle.
By purchasing “The Sea in a Bottle”, you are preserving the shorelines of the world from beach erosion caused by melting glaciers, tsunamis and hurricanes that feed on warm waters; along with any civilization that may be in danger of becoming an Atlantis type city. The purchase of “The Sea in a Bottle” will also prevent people from driving or flying thousands of miles a year to see the sea which they already have in their pantry; which will save countless billions of tons of carbon emissions, reducing the collective carbon footprint of the world.
Green Peace will be impressed and they will add both your name and mine to their Christmas card list, which I hear is pretty hard to get on. Mass hysteria can screech to a halt as the news will no longer have Global Warming to report on and have to find some other disaster to exploit. Eventually, Al Gore will be called upon to present me with the Goldman Environmental Prize for encouraging everyone to purchase a bottle of clam juice, which I shall happily accept via teleconference, while he mutters about how he should have won it for producing a video.

Posted by Juli McCaskill | Report as abusive

Go green, go naked! By eliminating all clothing we can rid our need to grow cotton and manufacture fabrics. We will comlpetely rid ourselves of the waste and emissions put off by clothing maufacturing plants! We can open up more land for bio-desiel plants, which will lower the cost of food for everyone. Although, if we’re all going naked we’re probably going to want to lose some weight, so we’ll eat less, causing the price of food to drop with demand, and get healthy in the process!

Posted by Laura Hubbard | Report as abusive

One of the laws of motion by Isaac Newton says Laws of Interaction, for every action there is an equivalent and opposite reaction.
In our present days; weather, climate, atmospheric changes, specie extinction and other enviromental recession continiously braging our daily lives and these make our lives upset and frustrating. There are several ways to be LOVERS of nature, avid fan of evironmental protection and advocacy. Here are some small tips you may follow: 1. practice paperless mail such as go to e-statements to cut less trees then 2. turn off your computer monitor when you are out for a grab of bite or something, these will consume less electrical energy then. 3. try to be semi-vegetarian, the less you eat meat, the less production of carbon dioxide on the planet. 4. try to be on-line environmental activist, there are several website across the world who advocates environmentalism, you may join, despite you are not physically present on the organization but the means of speading the news to other people across the world make a difference. Start changing! and change is only the permanent thing in this world.

Posted by Richard Pausing | Report as abusive

Great health spinoffs from the go-naked idea, Laura…but it will take a bit of getting used to –it’s minus 10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) where i am here in Oslo today!

Posted by Alister Doyle | Report as abusive

@ Alister:

I guess I got excited because it got to 50 Fahrenheit today and I forgot how much I hate to be cold! :)

Posted by Laura Hubbard | Report as abusive

I support the Sea in a Bottle, thank you Juli and Sea Harbor clam juice! The bottle is recyclable and no matter how far the seas encroach upon our civilization we can keep diggin’ up those clams to squeeze. What a great gift that will be to the hundreds of thousands of folks who will be moving their homes to the summits of Appalachia, Adirondack, Rocky and Sierra Nevada!

Keep it simple. > Though it would be tempting to offer a
“comprehensive energy plan,” favor certain sectors and
technologies, introduce goals other than climate protection
and create new institutions, the simpler the better—both
now and in the long run. Policies such as low carbon fuel
standards, biofuel mandates, and renewable portfolio
standards significantly raise costs by dictating how the
cap must be met. They can also introduce unintended
consequences such as deforestation and higher food prices.
Giving free allowances for certain kinds of reductions (such
as carbon capture and storage) or preferred sectors also
raises costs by distorting investment away from least-cost
solutions and forgoing revenue recycling. The key goal
must be to create a clean, clear price signal with minimal
bureaucracy.
Create incentives to sustain the program. > Firms will
only invest in new technologies if they think the price
on greenhouse gas emissions will endure and grow, so
strong long-run incentives to keep the program intact are
important. A variety of mechanisms could be used, ranging
from creating multiple-year emissions allowances to
auctioning allowances that won’t be valid until future years.
In either case, creating future emissions rights that can be
traded (but not used) today will create a constituency of
permit owners with a strong financial interest in continued
climate protection, and could bring in extra revenue early
on to fund research.

Posted by Roz | Report as abusive

Technology and industry obviously take too long and we need something simple and effective right now, and viable to everyone: CUTTING the MEAT consumption! It can almost immediately stop methane and nitrous oxide emissions — both are much stronger than CO2 — and save the massive amount of energy we use to store and transport meat. That could add up to reducing 80% of global warming, and save the lives of a lot of species including ourselves.

Posted by Ming | Report as abusive

Unlimited growth is called cancer. We have to balance freedom with responsibility. Replant coastal forests in both Europe and California. Solar collectors over every parking lot and on every roof and get rid of the @#@# gas engine. Wind turbines on every powerline. We have the technology, we need to use it before everything crashes and we lose it. Mass transit. Stop flying, because it spreads disease and is wasteful. Give jobs to people to sort the trash, install the solar, and plant the trees. Rebuild paradise and see the sacred in all living things.

We have got to stop looking for quick fixes and ways to profit. We have to change the picture completely. We have the technology, we just need to implement it.

Posted by vivian | Report as abusive

Wind and solar energy will be too unreliable to effectively power the world. The sun does set and the winds do stop not to mention the power grid is not ready for it. However if we switch to nuclear power we will have safe and reliable power with ZERO greenhouse emissions. There is more fuel for the nuclear breeder reactor then there is lead on the planet so we can not run out of fuel in the foreseeable future.

For those who are afraid of the radiation from a nuclear power plant. The amount of radiation given of from the plant is less then .3% of what a person receives from watching TV. Or it is .08% of the natural amount you receive from the air you breath. The power plants are made to survive being hit by a Boeing-777.

The amount of nuclear material needed to power New York City could fit in a 3x6x3foot box, compare this to the thousands of tons of coal that is needed.

Posted by j | Report as abusive

Vivian your killing me we are so not in dander of losing our planet. Our economy is failing you have to have energy to have a economy.Shutting down our current energy sources is just stupid We are not going to nor will we ever have a solution better than nucluar power generation backed by clean coal. The windmill idea will never sustaian needed power demand especially if the failing electric car idea ever takes off, can you say regrid everywhere, or have you thought of where are they going to dispose of the millions of giant “toxic” batteries and capacitors that go bad. Carbon emmisions are not the cause of globel warming , besides the planet has been cooling. All we have to do is just live don’t pollute the enviroment best you can because we can affect or enviroment but the climate that is fallacy. ps; I don’t use mass transit never will if that is your thing have at it for me I drive a pick up always have always will “I am a free born AMERICAN”
Love it or leave it kid!!!!!!!!!

Posted by me | Report as abusive

To the guy above me, are you suggesting being American isn’t compatible with not being selfish and ignorant? Sounds like it to me, the rest of the world is making an effort, don’t go against us out of some misplaced ideas of nationalist superiority. Oh and Mike Zelechowski, prayer? Seriously? Environmental degradation is a human problem, we have to fix it as humans, not try to leave it up to some ‘god’. It’s a social problem and we just need everybody on the bandwagon.

Posted by Nathan | Report as abusive

what you could do is turn off all the power for most electrical items, except fridges freezers and ovens, for a full 24 hrs

Posted by Sophie Steward | Report as abusive