Tag Archives: geoengineering

Internship at Science and Technology Innovation Program in Washington, DC

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is advertizing for a media-focused intern for Spring 2013. From the Dec. 12, 2012 notice,

The Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is currently seeking a media-focused intern for Spring 2013. The mission of STIP is to explore the scientific and technological frontier, stimulating discovery and bringing new tools to bear on public policy challenges that emerge as science advances.

Specific project areas include: nanotechnology, synthetic biology, Do-It-Yourself biology, the use of social media in disaster response, serious games, geoengineering, and additive manufacturing. Interns will work closely with a small, interdisciplinary team.

  • Applicants should be a graduate or undergraduate student with a background or strong interest in journalism, science/technology policy, public policy and/or policy analysis.
  • Solid reporting, writing and computer skills are a must. Experience with video/audio editing and new media is strongly desired.
  • Responsibilities include assisting with the website/social media, writing and editing, helping produce and edit short-form videos, staffing events and other duties as assigned.
  • Applicants should be creative, ready to engage in a wide variety of tasks and able to work independently and with a team in a fast-paced environment.
  • The internship is expected to last for 3-5 months at 15-20 hours per week. Scheduling is flexible.
  • Please include 2-3 writing samples/clips and links to any video/documentary work.
  • Compensation may be available.

To apply, please submit a cover letter, resume, and brief writing sample to [email protected] with SPRING 2013 INTERN in the subject line.

There doesn’t seem to be any additional information about the internship on the Wilson Center but you can check for yourself here. Good luck!

Geoengineering and nanotechnology at the University of Calgary

University of Calgary climate scientist David Keith suggests two ways to engineer the climate to avoid dangerous warming. According to the news item on Nanowerk,

“Releasing engineered nano-sized disks, or sulphuric acid in a condensable vapour above the Earth, are two novel approaches. These approaches offer advantages over simply putting sulphur dioxide gas into the atmosphere,” says David Keith, a director in the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy and a Schulich School of Engineering professor.

Keith, a global leader in investigating this topic, says that geoengineering, or engineering the climate on a global scale, is an imperfect science.

“It cannot offset the risks that come from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If we don’t halt man-made CO2 emissions, no amount of climate engineering can eliminate the problems – massive emissions reductions are still necessary.”

Nevertheless, Keith believes that research on geoengineering technologies,their effectiveness and environmental impacts needs to be expanded.

“I think the stakes are simply too high at this point to think that ignorance is a good policy.”

… One study was authored by Keith alone, and the other with scientists in Canada, the U.S. and Switzerland.

Keith is talking about engineering the nanoparticles as thin disks whose electric or magnet materials would allow them to be levitated into the atmosphere and oriented to reflect the most solar radiation away from us. For example, if the particles could be engineered to drift towards the Poles (North and South), solar radiation could be reduced.  There’s more detail about this and his other suggestion in the news item.

Keith does note that these suggestions do not mean we should stop our efforts at curtailing greenhouse gas emissions,

Keith stresses that whether geoengineering technology is ever used, it shouldn’t be seen as a reason not to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions now accumulating in the atmosphere.

“Seat belts reduce the risk of being injured in accidents. But having a seat belt doesn’t mean you should drive drunk at 100 miles an hour,” he says.

ETA Sept. 13, 2010: Andrew Maynard at 2020 Science has posted about one of David Keith’s geoengineering ideas:

The first [aspect of the paper to catch Andrew's eye] was that he [Keith] proposes engineering particles as disks a few micrometers wide and around 50 nanometers thick, that are designed to automatically congregate where they are most useful in the atmosphere – in other words, this is a beautiful case of nanotechnology meets geoengineering.

The second aspect of the paper that caught my attention was that I was working with precisely engineered particles not too dissimilar from those that David described back in the 1990′s, which got me wondering whether techniques being used then for fabrication of silicon particles could be used for the more complex particles being proposed here.

If you’re interested in how science develops and the history of ideas (special emphasis on nanotechnology and geoengineering) then, Andrew offers a very engaging view.

Geo engineering and climate change

I just finished reading an article by Jamais Cascio in the Wall Street Journal on geoengineering. I was directed there from Andrew Maynard’s 2020 Science blog and while this isn’t my usual thing it’s one of those ideas that’s both intriguing and deeply disturbing to me.

I’ve read other pieces by Cascio and find him to be a very thoughtful writer so I’m inclined to pay attention when he writes about something. From what I can gather after reading his article, geoengineering needs to be seriously considered now that climate change is rapidly approaching a crisis/tipping point. (Others may disagree with whether or not we are having a crisis but that’s another discussion.) We have not sufficiently decreased the amount of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere thereby allowing us to reverse the changes currently taking place. Cascio is proposing that we consider geoengineering not as a solution to too much carbon being released but as a stopgap (breathing space) while we seriously address the issues. You can read Cascio’s article here and you can read Andrew Maynard’s comments about it here.

The most feasible solutions as described by Cascio make me very nervous (either pump sulfates or seawater up into the atmosphere) but he presents a persuasive case for a geoengineering solution coupled with serious efforts to reduce carbon emissions.