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Thread: Reducing Global Warming by making an Volcano erupt?

  1. #1 Reducing Global Warming by making an Volcano erupt? 
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    I heard this thing on the radio in some science program where somebody had a theory that you could reduce global warming by making a big volcano erupt. Sulphur dioxide gas is released by volcanoes and would supposedly reflect sunlight thus blocking it from coming into the lower atmosphere thereby cooling the Earth and countering the effects of global warming. What doesn't come in, can't be trapped.

    Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcano...s_of_volcanoes

    My questions

    - Is this an accepted theory amongst geologists?

    - How would one go about making a volcano erupt? Detonate a nuclear device underground in the vicinity of a major volcano?


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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    yes, it's true that the sulphur dioxide spewed out by volcanoes will cause a short-term cooling (time scales a couple of years at the most) - on the other hand the massive amounts of carbon dioxide will have a far greater heating effect in the long run

    the permian extinction of 251 mya is thought to have been caused by massive outpourings of lava in the Siberian traps, the effect of which was to raise temperatures by about 6°C in the geological blink of an eye


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    Maybe people were getting really desperate and ignored the fact that there would be a CO2 after-effect. With the climate changing so fast, maybe people craved for a "Year without Summer" as happened with Mount Tambora in 1815.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_T...uptive_history
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    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    I'm not too sure climate change is so dramatic as sometimes made out to be. Question: with el nino and el nina, does the average temp of earth change or does it stay the same? Another: the runaway effect of glaciers melting and polar ice breaking up -> how large part of this can be attributed to us still coming out of the last ice age?

    I know CO2 levels have been rising in proportion with our development and that it does contribute to global warming, but how large a part does it actually play in proportion to the other causes?
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  6. #5  
    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I know CO2 levels have been rising in proportion with our development and that it does contribute to global warming, but how large a part does it actually play in proportion to the other causes?
    No one knows at the moment, the most conservative of estimates by those who recognise green house gases as a significant influence on global temperatures place it at around 50% of the warming over the last 40 years, other place it as much as 90%.
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  7. #6  
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    I am trying to use some of this information for one of my blog posts. Thanks for the comments so far. Maybe people in the future will get that paranoid with one superhot disastrous, dry summer that it will push them to do something really dramatical. When the masses are aroused they can do drastic things and maybe setting off a nuke in the vicinity of a volcano doesn't seem that absurd...
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TicoSox
    When the masses are aroused they can do drastic things and maybe setting off a nuke in the vicinity of a volcano doesn't seem that absurd...
    i doubt whether the masses would attempt anything nuclear, seeing how many of them are dead against nukes in any shape or form

    however, you could imagine terrorists getting hold of a nuclear bomb and making one of the calderas of the canary islands collapse - in the nightmare scenario this would create a tidal wave of such magnitude that it would wipe the east coast of the US clean
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I'm not too sure climate change is so dramatic as sometimes made out to be. Question: with el nino and el nina, does the average temp of earth change or does it stay the same?
    El Niño years tend to have an average higher global temperature.

    Another: the runaway effect of glaciers melting and polar ice breaking up -> how large part of this can be attributed to us still coming out of the last ice age?
    Probably not much if anything, the climates been remarkably stable for the past 8K years or so.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Probably not much if anything, the climates been remarkably stable for the past 8K years or so.
    in fact we've more or less had the allotted time span of the average interglacial, so despite the talk of global warming, the next ice age could be just around the corner (give or take a few thousand years)
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  11. #10 Scrubbers 
    Forum Professor leohopkins's Avatar
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    Would it not be possible to build a few "super scrubbers" - rather like the ones used on space missions except on a much bigger scale, to filter out the CO2 ?
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

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  12. #11  
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    There is a seemingly thorough discussion of carbon capture and sequestration on Wikipedia. It appears that there are options for sequestering CO2 (scrubbing appears to be a minor player but possible). A main concern is that many strategies may have unforeseen consequences.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_sink

    Another long-term option is carbon capture directly from the air using hydroxides. The air would literally be scrubbed of its CO2 content. This idea offers an alternative to non-carbon-based fuels for the transportation sector.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Freshman rjc34's Avatar
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    the problem I have with the greenhouse gas warming theory is that most of the warming we see today happened before 1940... when we were just entering the industrial age. Earth cooled between 1940 and 1975, then started warming slightly. Global temps have very slightly cooled in the past 8 years. Plus, we know that the temp of the earth during the medieval warm period was MUCH hotter than todays temps are.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i don't know where you get your factoids

    the little ice age finally finished around the middle of the 19th century, when the industrial revolution was already in full swing for a number of decades

    your so-called cooling over the last 8 years contradicts measurements that the hottest summers happened in the last decade

    look up records on temperatures in the middle ages - there is no indication that they were FAR hotter than now

    no-one denies that there are natural fluctuations in global temperature, but to deny that there's something fishy about the sharp rise in temperatures over the last 20 years is ostrich politics
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  15. #14  
    Forum Freshman rjc34's Avatar
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    Here is where I get some of my information:

    http://www.friendsofscience.org/asse.../deFreitas.pdf
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  16. #15  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology ?
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  17. #16  
    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjc34
    the problem I have with the greenhouse gas warming theory is that most of the warming we see today happened before 1940... when we were just entering the industrial age. Earth cooled between 1940 and 1975, then started warming slightly. Global temps have very slightly cooled in the past 8 years.
    The warming and cooling up until the 1970’s fits in pretty well with solar output. The warming since the 70’s though does not, in fact the amount of energy reaching the earth from the sun has decreased since then, possible masking the full affects of the warming.

    Plus, we know that the temp of the earth during the medieval warm period was MUCH hotter than todays temps are.
    That’s not true. Global temperatures have been very consistent over the last 1000 years, and never hotter that they are today. The people that make that argument only use graphs made from the temperature records of the northern hemisphere or North America. It is a blatant lie.
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