Right to the Point (1/14/10)

Goodbye Fido, hello sulfur dioxide

Jan. 14, 2010

By Mike Benevento

By now, most observers view last month’s Copenhagen climate summit as a failure because there was more talk than action. Since human nature makes it difficult to sacrifice short-term interests for long-term concerns — especially politically — the conference’s disappointing results were easily predictable.

Many environmentalists and their political and media enablers blame current climate change wholly on humanity. No doubt humans can influence the climate, but the recent global warming trend (if the data is trustworthy) is not manmade.

Starting at its beginning, the earth has repeatedly cooled and warmed without human interference. Australian geologist Ian Plimer remarked, “Climates always change. They always have, and they always will. They are driven by a number of factors that are random and cyclical.”

Plimer is convinced carbon dioxide is not the origin of rising temperatures. Natural events such as the sun’s radiation and volcanic eruptions are causing the changes. “Carbon dioxide levels have been up to 1,000 times higher in the past,” Plimer said. “CO2 cannot be driving global warming now.”

Unfortunately, the environmental community focuses mainly on reducing CO2 emissions to combat global warming. According to these experts, most everyone on the planet has to make lifestyle changes. Whether reducing fossil fuel usage, conserving energy or going green, even small measures warrant consideration. Not surprisingly, pets are now under scrutiny.

New Zealanders Brenda and Robert Vale, sustainable living specialists at the Victoria University of Wellington, calculated the annual carbon footprints of dogs and cats. They determined the effect on greenhouse gasses from raising livestock for meat and using land to generate cereal for pets.

The food a medium-sized dog eats yearly causes a carbon footprint twice that of an SUV. Meanwhile, cats have a footprint slightly less than a Volkswagen Golf. Therefore, the Vales recommend people take environmental impacts of animals into account when choosing a pet.

Without a doubt, current proposals to fight global warming are very expensive (costing trillions of dollars), will take decades to produce results and require almost everyone to modify their behavior by becoming more green. Reducing carbon emissions requires global cooperation and substantial lifestyle changes. Governments have convinced their constituents the only realistic solutions are hard ones.

Authors Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt recently wrote, “A lethal combination of political correctness and entrenched special interests has convinced the chattering classes that the costly, slow and difficult path is the only option, stifling any discussion of cheap, easy and reversible solutions that might be available.” This incorrect focus results in missing potential fixes, such as sulfur dioxide.

Scientists know that volcanic eruptions shoot millions of tons of sulfur dioxide high into the stratosphere. There, it mixes with water vapor and blankets the earth, creating a sort of sun shield. The sulfur dioxide helps cool the planet.

The massive 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines cooled the earth by an average of nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit. Dubner and Levitt noted, “The volcanic eruption temporarily reversed the cumulative global warming of the previous century.” Impressive results indeed — solely caused by nature.

After studying volcanic effects, scientists at Intellectual Ventures Lab propose a “geoengineering” solution to combat global warming. According to the company’s Web site, “geoengineering” uses engineering to influence the earth’s systems. Intellectual Ventures recommends implementing its “Stratoshield,” which imitates volcanoes to help stop global warming — at a fraction of the cost.

Author Mark Whittington writes that the company proposes running a hose up to the stratosphere with balloons and injecting sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to dim the sun’s rays just enough to counteract global warming effects. The estimated cost is a few million dollars. Not the trillions (and lifestyle changes) currently peddled as the best cure.

If global warming is as serious a threat as environmentalists claim, then all potential solutions must be considered. The international community, however, is only pushing for complicated and expensive measures. Simple geoengineering solutions are not even part of the discussion. Why aren’t they?

In the world of global climate change, it is becoming more and more obvious that it is less about preventing warming and more about controlling people — how they live, what they eat, what they drive and so on.

It is about creating international governing bodies with the ability to control energy — resulting in lots of power. By regulating the flow and use of energy, these supranational organizations will control the world’s riches. This allows for a redistribution of wealth.

Thus, the United Nation’s end goal is essentially a massive transfer of wealth from richer to poorer nations disguised as fighting man-made global warming.


Michael Benevento is a former Air Force fighter jet weapon systems officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in Military History and a master’s in International Relations. Mike resides in Williston with his wife Kristine and their two sons, Matthew and Calvin.