Ariel Schwartz

Bill Gates Announces Funding for Seawater-Spraying Cloud Machines

by , 05/10/10
filed under: global warming

geoengineering, bill gates, climate change, global warming, silver lining, green design

Environmentalists have long argued about whether geoengineering (using technology to alter the climate) is a good way to tackle climate change. But the tactic has some heavy hitters on its side, including Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder recently announced plans to invest $300,000 into research at the University of Calgary for unique solutions and responses to climate change. Part of that research included lab tests on machines that suck up seawater and spray it into the air, seeding white clouds that reflect rays of sunlight away from Earth.

geoengineering, bill gates, climate change, global warming, silver lining, green designPhoto by Ninja Gecko

The machines, developed by a San Francisco-based research group called Silver Lining, turn seawater into tiny particles that can be shot up over 3,000 feet in the air. The particles increase the density of clouds by increasing the amount of nuclei contained within. Silver Lining’s floating machines can suck up ten tons of water per second.

If all goes well, Silver Lining plans to test the process with 10 ships spread throughout 3800 square miles of ocean. Even if that goes well, the technology has a long way to go before it can significantly alter the climate — a recent study showed that it would it take 1,900 ships at a cost of over $7 billion to stop Earth’s temperature from rising.

Via UK Times Online

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23 Comments

  1. jg167 May 6, 2012 at 2:34 am

    This is an excellent thing to be researching. Folks like Treehouse fail to realize we are ALREADY past the point of impacting the planet. Our old stable planet requires no more than 350ppm CO2 in the atmosphere. Our current planet has 390 and rising. If we stop 100% of human CO2 production today, it will still get hot and bad things are going to happen. So efforts at cooling like this, or carbon removal like iron ocean seeding are essential to research ASAP. All the more so since getting the world to stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere appears to be extremely unlikely until we actually run out of fossil fuels.

  2. audigaudi audigaudi July 8, 2011 at 9:33 am

    This is also a strategic process. One where these methods are implemented on a basis of need. The outcomes of cloud seeding are weighed, based on the increase of cloud whitening and possible outcomes of any alteration of precipitation. What you’ll find common among Geo-Engineers, is the ability to understand the repercussions in society.

  3. audigaudi audigaudi July 8, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Well, there’s an awful lot of fear in here. The research for these vessels has been ongoing for the better part of 50 years. This Flettner vessel is powered by wind. Dr. Stephen Salter who’s petitioned this specific project has researched the influences this method of cloud seeding could have, namely salt fall-off and marine life interaction. His proposal can be found here:http://academic.research.microsoft.com/Publication/5252681/spray-turbines-to-increase-rain-by-enhanced-evaporation-from-the-sea

    You may notice that link goes through Microsoft, I’m sure Bill Gates wouldn’t fund something which has not been vetted.

  4. exdpyoirp June 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

    4BcMRI zcvvgwrbxesg

  5. echo May 31, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    What goes up must come down!

  6. echo May 31, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    A question for Bill Gates…. Has the recent floods across the earth slowed green house gasses?

  7. echo May 31, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Reflecting sun rays away from the earth is like keeping our children inside. Very soon that action will have a devistating effect, at least cause vitimin D deficiency, probably stop food production.
    What we need to do is go back to living clean the old wise way.
    Not let it happen and then try to make large amounts of $ selling an idea a system that may counter act it later on.

  8. Kalin May 31, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Toudchown! That’s a really cool way of putting it!

  9. Juan A Ortega June 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    The only solution for Climatic regulation is Cycle of Water
    The Cycle of Water cleans the Atmosphere and takes the temperature from the sea to the high levels of Atmosphere and out.
    Rain never waste in sea. That is NATURAL.
    Don´t stop rain and we will live happy on Earth.

  10. beachcomberkim June 1, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    yep, just what we need bigger hurricanes, I hope he has the buck to pay for storm damage after growing a bigger storm. Fix whats broken, dont create a new problem.

  11. SkyHunter May 16, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Three things.

    One. This will do nothing to help ocean acidification, and would possibly make it worse, since colder water absorbs more carbon dioxide than warm water.

    Two. Low level, low latitude clouds reflect more energy than they absorb.

    Three. Clouds are liquid water, not vapor. Adding more water vapor to the atmosphere is a zero sum game, since it will rapidly precipitate out. Lowering the air temperature would result in a net decrease in water vapor.

    Rogerthesurf1,

    Water vapor accounts for ~66% of the greenhouse effect. Water vapor and clouds together account for ~85%. The 95% figure is bogus, yet oft repeated by climate deniers.

  12. gfoster May 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Looks like some University of Calgary profs have found a way to get a paid-for seaside holiday – thanks Bill.

  13. tadchem May 13, 2010 at 10:08 am

    The only difference between the environmental change wrought by human activity and ‘geoengineering’ is that the latter is willful. We don’t know enough about how the biosphere works to predict weather for 7 days. We are a long way from knowing enough about it to shape it to our ideals without aggravating damage.
    “Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action.” – J.W. von Goethe

  14. rogerthesurf1 May 12, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Oh no!
    Bill! Turn that thing off at once! Dont you know that the biggest greenhouse gas is water vapour. Provides something like 95% of the greenhouse effect so we are told.
    Like I say, turn it off at it once! You are heating the planet.
    And like noiseshapes says, what are you going to use to power it?
    Oh I know renewable energy right? Coal? Oil? Fossil Fuel produced electricity? No I got it a Nuclear energy plant especially dedicated.
    Gotcha

    Good ole Bill

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  15. noiseshapes May 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    And what are these monsters running on? Please don’t tell me you need to burn fossil fuels to power them.

  16. energyskeptic May 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Instead of something like this which could cause salt rain, (how the hey are we gonna deal with that?!?) We should invest in Fuel Alcohol:
    1. With minor changes to the air fuel mixture it can be burned in any gasoline car.
    2. Due to the rising cost of gas, it is now cheaper than gas.
    3. It’s emissions are 99.999% CO2 and H2O.
    4. 100% of the carbon released was absorbed from the air, and turning in the dead plant sequesters additional carbon.
    5. It burns cooler than gas.
    6. Fuel Alcohol can be made from anything that has sugar in it.
    Go to your public library and check out Alcohol can be a Gas! by David Blume

  17. energyskeptic May 11, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Sooo, how much diesel will it take to power these?

  18. gannets May 11, 2010 at 5:50 am

    A. We do not even understand how the climate works, let alone how to alter it in our favour. Don\\\’t mess with things we don\\\’t understand.
    B. Any process like this will use HUGE amounts of energy, presumably oil based, which will add to the problems causing climate change………………

  19. johnpg May 11, 2010 at 5:47 am

    absolute rubbish. being a sailor those ships would be destroyed in any substantial winds.

    Clouds would trap heat anyway.

    come on guys.

  20. Treehouse May 11, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Instead of investing such a vast amount of money into a project that will unlikely have any effect unless built on a massive scale.

    This sounds a lot like the carbon capture and storage, which divert assets from more effective methods.

    I’m all for a more proactive measure, where we prevent the CO2 getting into the air in the first place.
    A more direct way to ensure biodiversity and reduce emissions by some 20% would be just by stopping cut-n-burn deforestation.

  21. Earl Grey May 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    But wouldn\’t that mean lots of salty water coming down on land that shouldn\’t have salt on?
    I understood it that when water evaporated the salt was left behind.
    If we shoot it straight up into the clouds and they blow inland then the salty water will be falling and of course killing everything and making stuff rusty.

  22. pmento May 10, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Jeepers, critics abound! I’d like to hear some constructive ideas. The Gates foundation wouldn’t put money into this scheme without vetting it.

    BTW, any reason that we couldn’t put one of these cloud machines on Hawaii permanently?

  23. Fish and Bicycles May 10, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    This seems like a ridiculous idea to me.

    “Silver Lining’s floating machines can suck up ten tons of water per second.”

    Um, yeah, the fish and sea mammals will LOVE that!

    I do think it’s hilarious that Gates (born, raised, and still lives in Seattle) is attracted to an idea that will put more clouds in the sky.

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