James McNeill Whistler Morning Glories 1869
LFD=Lateral Flow Antigen test
John Deeks: The 1st 2 weeks of school testing did find MORE FALSE POSITIVES than TRUE POSITIVES – data are finally public. Proportion false were 62% and 55% in these 2 weeks. Of 2304 positive tests, 1353 were likely false, with 1 positive per 6900 tests done.
Informed disconsent: Incentivize connection and hugs and sunshine
Informed disconsent. pic.twitter.com/gqqbeByKXK
— Edman (@EdgarWortmann) April 29, 2021
John Day: Guys, you need MORE transmission in the SUMMER, when everybody tolerates viral illness so much better.
“The fact that a huge number of people who are infected by COVID-19 recover becomes immaterial. Only images and emotions stay with them.”
• Mental Health Experts Ask Media Not To Create Panic Around Covid-19 (OpIndia)
Senior Professor of Psychiatry and the current Director of NIMHANS, Dr. BN Gangadhar along with other esteemed mental health professionals called upon the media to avoid “panic-inducing coverage” through an open letter. The health experts issued an open letter criticising the media for reporting Covid-19 deaths from crematoriums and creating hysteria and panic among the people. The letter goes into detail regarding the various mental health problems a person encounters when bombarded with overtly negative and pessimistic media coverage around the clock. “Mass media has the power to communicate to millions at the same time. When the reach is so huge, every word, every image, and every nuance matters.
However, what we are seeing on our TV screens, mobile screens and newspapers is disconcerting, to put it very mildly.” the letter reads, establishing the responsibility of the mainstream media. The letter criticized the mainstream media’s overtly negative, dower and opportunistic coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic. “Images of bodies burning in cremation grounds, relatives of the deceased wailing inconsolably, emotional outbursts, and hysterical reporters with cameramen swarming over the bereaved who are going through deeply emotional moments – this may help garner eyeballs. But there is a steep price to be paid for such coverage.” the letter goes on. In order to demonstrate their point, the health professionals put forth an illustration in the letter. “Imagine someone has just tested positive for COVID-19.
If they have witnessed the panic-inducing coverage from cremation grounds, it keeps weighing on their minds and their loved ones. The fact that a huge number of people who are infected by COVID-19 recover becomes immaterial. Only images and emotions stay with them.” The mental health doctors emphasized the need for a positive mindset and requested the media to avoid “panic-inducing” coverage. “Yet again, we are not saying that the facts should not be reported. We are saying that hysteria and panic-inducing coverage should be avoided,” the letter makes clear. “As mental health professionals, we can tell you that specific information empowers people and prepares them to face any challenge. But panic weakens them”.
“It’s not taking care of your kids. It’s not practicing your faith. It’s not doing doing as well as you can in your profession. None of that is as important as avoiding disease.”
• Stanford Prof: CDC Paved Way For ‘Institutionalization of Hypochondria’ (JTN)
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on mask-wearing, advising that Americans who are fully vaccinated may now exercise and attend small outdoor gatherings without a mask. It’s too little, too late, argues Stanford University Professor of Medicine Jay Bhattacharya. The public health agency’s hypervigilant coronavirus response over the past 12-14 months has paved the way for what he calls “the institutionalization of hypochondria” among the American public “This sort of order should have come long ago,” said Bhattacharya during an interview on “Just the News AM.” “I think they’re being entirely too cautious by saying, ‘Okay, only if you’re vaccinated … People who have had the disease before are also immune. Why shouldn’t they be ‘allowed’ to not wear masks?”
There has been “very little evidence of outdoor transmission of the disease to begin with,” added Bhattacharya, coauthor of the Great Barrington Declaration, a manifesto that urges an alternative COVID-19 strategy focused on protecting those at greatest risk while minimizing disruption and damage to the larger society. The statement has been signed by close to 14,000 medical and public health scientists. “[P]ublic health authorities, including the CDC have generated an enormous amount of fear and panic around the disease,” says Bhattacharya. On Tuesday, President Biden, who has been fully vaccinated for many months, wore a mask outside as he walked to the podium to address the press regarding the CDC’s newest guidance. Last week, Biden wore a mask during a virtual climate summit with other world leaders.
Calling masks “a palpable symbol of panic and fear,” Bhattacharya said Biden’s use of a mask in public “even though he has been vaccinated and is immune, sends the entirely wrong signal about the efficacy of vaccination and a whole host of other things.” “We basically have said, look at disease avoidance as the central problem in your life, no matter who you are,” he explained. “It’s not taking care of your kids. It’s not practicing your faith. It’s not doing doing as well as you can in your profession. None of that is as important as avoiding disease. And I think it’s going to be very difficult to undo that.”
Coming to a town near you. Just wait till stimulus is withdrawn.
• One In Seven Shops Lie Empty After Lockdown (BBC)
The number of empty shops has risen again, with one in seven across Britain now vacant, according to new research. All areas saw a rise but the North of England suffered the biggest hit, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said. “After a third national lockdown, it is no surprise that the vacancy rate has continued to soar,” BRC chief Helen Dickinson said. Restrictions came on top of already difficult High Street conditions and further closures are likely, she said. The BRC’s quarterly report, compiled with the Local Data Company, found that in the first three months of 2021, the overall vacancy rate increased to 14.1%, from 13.7% in the previous quarter.
This was 1.9 percentage points higher than in the same point in 2020, and marks three years of increasing vacancy rates, the report said. Shopping centres, whose landlords have been hit hard during lockdown and by the shift to online, saw vacancies increase to 18.4% in the January-March period, from 17.1% in the previous three months. The report said 12% of shopping centre units have been empty for a year or more. Ms Dickinson said: “The forced closure of thousands of shops during the first quarter of 2021 has exacerbated already difficult conditions for the retail industry. We estimate there are around 5,000 fewer stores since the start of the pandemic.”
“If approved, this provision would exclude Hungary and Slovakia, both of which have used Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.”
• EU Disunity Over Vaccine Certificate (K.)
The European Parliament has approved the issuing of a “green passport” for those inoculated against the coronavirus, but its position differs significantly from the Commission’s and the European Council’s. All sides will have to work at full speed if they want the certificate issued before the end of June. The European Parliament’s main demand is that the certificate – which it wants to be renamed “Covid-19 certificate” from the Commission’s “Green Passport” – apply only to people inoculated with the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). If approved, this provision would exclude Hungary and Slovakia, both of which have used Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Hungary has also used China’s Sinopharm vaccine, widely considered of dubious effectiveness. The EMA has not approved either vaccine, so far.
The European Council’s common position is that member-states must have the option to use vaccines not approved by the EMA and adopting the Parliament’s decision could spark a serious clash. The MEPs also want people who carry such a certificate to be exempted from quarantine rules, taking away the decision from the member-states. While the document will primarily be used for travel within the EU, it will be up to each member-state to require it domestically, for example, to admit people in restaurants or cinemas. The MEPs consider lifting the quarantine for certificate holders a crucial issue for the free movement of people within the Schengen Area, a movement guaranteed by the Lisbon Treaty of 2007.
Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, the Socialist rapporteur of the certificate proposition, said the Schengen Area is in a very bad state because of the unilateral restrictions of all sorts on cross-border movement imposed by individual member-states. The Parliament also wants the coronavirus diagnostic tests that allow cross-border movement issued for free.
“..a new method of transferring a new medicine, based on exosomes, nanoparticles that participate in intracellular activities..”
• Two Greek Hospitals To Host Clinical Trials Of Israeli Covid-19 Treatment (K.)
Infectious disease expert and chief scientific adviser on the pandemic, Sotiris Tsiodras, discussed on Thursday the start of the clinical trials in Greece of an Israeli coronavirus treatment in two hospitals. “We are participating in these new trials with great enthusiasm. The study utilizes a new method of transferring a new medicine, based on exosomes, nanoparticles that participate in intracellular activities,” said Tsiodras during a meeting in Athens with Israeli Professor of Medicine Nadir Arber who is responsible for the new drug against Covid-19 developed at the Medical Centre Ichilov in Tel Aviv.
“It is a very promising method according to the data from the clinical trials in Israel. We are moving forward by conducting Phase II trials here in Greece, in which we will evaluate parameters like safety, dosology, and efficacy,” he stated. On his side, Arber said, “we should remain humble and modest – but we are really excited. In fact, I want to point out that I came here in person as I wanted to see the people first and then the facilities. We are talking about great doctors and people who have inspired my confidence.”
Difficult way to describe a very obvious phenomenon.
• Associations Between Body-Mass Index And Covid-19 Severity (Lancet)
Obesity is a major risk factor for adverse outcomes after infection with SARS-CoV-2. We aimed to examine this association, including interactions with demographic and behavioural characteristics, type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions. [..] In this prospective, community-based, cohort study, we used de-identified patient-level data from the QResearch database of general practices in England, UK. We extracted data for patients aged 20 years and older who were registered at a practice eligible for inclusion in the QResearch database between Jan 24, 2020 (date of the first recorded infection in the UK) and April 30, 2020, and with available data on BMI. Data extracted included demographic, clinical, clinical values linked with Public Health England’s database of positive SARS-CoV-2 test results, and death certificates from the Office of National Statistics.
Outcomes, as a proxy measure of severe COVID-19, were admission to hospital, admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), and death due to COVID-19. We used Cox proportional hazard models to estimate the risk of severe COVID-19, sequentially adjusting for demographic characteristics, behavioural factors, and comorbidities. [..] At a BMI of more than 23 kg/m2, we found a linear increase in risk of severe COVID-19 leading to admission to hospital and death, and a linear increase in admission to an ICU across the whole BMI range, which is not attributable to excess risks of related diseases. The relative risk due to increasing BMI is particularly notable people younger than 40 years and of Black ethnicity.
“..38% of those who had a stroke soon after recovering from Covid-19 did not even know they had the disease”
• Covid-19 Could Cause Strokes Among Young & Healthy People (RT)
Scientists from more than 30 countries say they have detected an “unusually high” percentage of young people among patients that were hospitalized with a stroke after having Covid-19, including in asymptomatic form. One in four post-Covid stroke patients is younger than 55, according to the comprehensive international study published in the peer-reviewed journal Stroke. This is considered unusually high, given that normally only between 10% and 15% of stroke patients are aged between 18 and 50. More alarmingly, the researchers say that Covid-19 could trigger a stroke in people who would normally be extremely low risk for having one. “Many patients, especially the younger ones, did not present any traditional risk factor for strokes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart problems and so on,” said Hebrew University Professor Ronen Leker, one of almost 90 co-authors of the study.
The data show a “connection between the coronavirus and strokes in younger patients, as a result of blockages in larger blood vessels,” Leker told Israeli media. Even patients who had Covid-19 in a mild or asymptomatic form are not shielded from potentially dire consequences, researchers say. In fact, the study, published on April 21, showed that almost 38% of those who had a stroke soon after recovering from Covid-19 did not even know they had the disease. They had no recognizable symptoms of the novel coronavirus, such as cough, fever or shortness of breath. The fact that they had Covid-19 only came to light after they were tested in hospitals, where they were admitted with a stroke. In total, the study’s authors analyzed data on 432 patients provided by 136 different medical centers in 32 countries.
Patients in the study experienced acute ischemic stroke, intracranial hemorrhage, and cerebral venous or sinus thrombosis. At least 71 medical centers also reported that they had at least one patient who had a stroke during Covid-19 hospitalization or soon after it. The phenomenon can be explained by the fact that Covid-19 targets various organs in the body, disrupting their normal function and causing blood clots and other complications, Leker said. “The brain is one of the organs that the coronavirus targets, as well as blood vessels in the brain,” he explained, adding that the disease could also lead to an irregular heart rhythm and the migration of blood clots to the brain.
“Biden’s presentation was, both literally and figuratively, to an audience of one: Senator Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia.”
• Biden’s Address To The Nation Was Little More Than A Magic Carpet Ride (Ritter)
Roosevelt, however, had the support of Congress firmly under the control of his party, had been elected with overwhelming majorities, and the nation was united in its belief that its president represented their shared values when it came to pulling the country out of the depths of the Great Depression. Biden, on the other hand, is wrestling with a 50-50 Senate and a House where the Democrats have a razor-thin margin that many expect to evaporate come mid-term elections in 2022. Moreover, Biden helms a nation where nearly 50% of the voting public cast their ballots against him. In short, they view Biden as the problem, not the solution, and are more inclined to oppose the kind of changes Biden is seeking for two years, at which time they believe the Republican Party will be able to regain full control of at least one, and possibly both, houses of Congress.
Given the tight political margins that Biden is dealing with (a quick CNN poll of viewers who watched the speech found that only 51% had a favorable opinion of the speech), it comes as no surprise that at the end of the day, Biden’s presentation was, both literally and figuratively, to an audience of one: Senator Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia. Biden needs Manchin’s support if any of his legislative proposals are to have a chance of becoming law. Unfortunately for Biden, Manchin’s vision of where West Virginia needs to go and how it should get there does not mesh well with Biden’s. The American Families Plan, Biden’s ambitious successor to Roosevelt’s New Deal, is, as presented in the speech, dead on arrival when it comes to Manchin.
To get it to pass the Senate, Biden will need to water it down to such an extent that he may lose others in his own party. The kind of political compromise necessary to pass the kind of sweeping legislation Biden has proposed may have been possible at one time in America’s history, but not today. Biden spoke of “We the People” as a unifying mantra that united him with his audience. But many of “the people” do not support him, and indeed never will. America is a fundamentally divided nation, and nothing in Biden’s speech altered that unfortunate reality. Manchin is but the political manifestation of this divide. In the end, Biden’s address was little more than a reflection of America as it is today, and not the vision of America he sought to project.
But only white supremacists.
• Biden DOJ “Actively Considering” Domestic Terrorism Law (ZH)
“One of the things we’re looking at is would we need new authorities,” said deputy assistant attorney general for the department’s national security division, Brad Wiegmann, during a Thursday House hearing. Weigmann added that while the department has been successful using existing laws to fight domestic terrorism – including bringing charges for offenses involving weapons or explosives violations, hate crimes and arson, there have been more than 430 arrests made in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol “carried out by extremist supporters of then-President Donald Trump” (as Bloomberg puts it). The FBI has warned that domestic violent extremists pose a heightened threat for carrying out attacks in the U.S. in the near future, with white supremacists being the most lethal threat.
Currently, no U.S. law lets the government designate domestic extremists as terrorists or bring specific charges for domestic terrorism. That contrasts with laws to combat international terrorism, which allow the government to designate groups and bring charges for providing those groups with material support. -Bloomberg “The question we’re really wrestling with is, are there gaps,” Weigman told a House Appropriations subcommittee. “Is there some type of conduct that we can envision that we can’t cover or would it be an otherwise benefit in having something else other than what we’re having now?”
Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania – chairman of the subcommittee, said that: “Right-wing extremist attacks and plots have greatly outnumbered those from all other groups combined and caused more deaths as well,” adding “This is a cancer on our country.” Which is weird, because at least 4 members of the Proud Boys were FBI informants who gave the agency information prior to the Jan. 6 ‘insurrection.’ That said, several groups have voiced their opposition to a specific domestic terrorism law – from civil liberties advocates to conservatives – who say that a new law is unnecessary, and could be used to violate the Constitutional rights of US citizens.
“In Afghanistan, almost 40 million people survive, and manage to navigate through the carnage. They live today as they did in 2001 and 1981, in a state shorn of security, pulverized and cratered.”
• Admitting Defeat in Afghanistan: American “State-Building” Fails Again (Clamp)
So Rudyard Kipling’s arithmetic came to pass after all. ‘Strike hard who cares—shoot straight who can/ The odds are on the cheaper man.’ The U.S. has thrown in the towel. Another ‘superpower’ is set to depart Afghanistan. The symbolic date of September 11 is meant to have a ring of finality to it. It should: a trillion dollars later, the United States has failed in all its war aims. Eschewing historical and scholarly knowledge, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was their first mistake. However impelled you feel to invade the fulcrum state, you should always count to ten. Some units entering the country will have passed Gandamak, where a British army was massacred in 1842. Few American soldiers will have noted the landmark.
U.S. withdrawals tend to be attended by even worse conditions than those they found on invading. In Afghanistan, almost 40 million people survive, and manage to navigate through the carnage. They live today as they did in 2001 and 1981, in a state shorn of security, pulverized and cratered. George W. Bush’s stated aims were the destruction of al-Qaeda and the removal of the Taliban from power. That was in 2001, two decades ago. Today, the situation is arguably worse. The Taliban have control of, or are contesting, the majority of the country. al-Qaeda affiliated personnel are still embedded in their ranks. The Kabul government controls perhaps a third of the country’s 407 municipal districts.
Different parties, same mind.
• Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice Concerned About Afghan Troop Withdrawal (Axios)
Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee they’re worried about President Biden’s plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, with Rice suggesting the U.S. may need to go back, Axios has learned. The position puts two former secretaries of State — from the Obama and Bush administrations — at odds with one of Biden’s most significant foreign policy moves to date. The new president has vowed to complete the withdrawal by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack. U.S. forces were sent to Afghanistan by Rice’s then-boss, former President George W. Bush, to destroy havens used by the attack’s organizers. Clinton and Rice offered their reactions during a members-only Zoom call Wednesday, two attendees told Axios.
“We had Secretaries Clinton and Condi Rice Zoom today with the committee,” one committee member told Axios. “A little disagreement on Afghanistan, but they both agreed we’re going to need to sustain a counterterrorism mission somehow outside of that country.” “Condi Rice is like, ‘You know, we’re probably gonna have to go back,'” amid a potential surge in terrorism, the member said. Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the committee, told Axios: “With the potential for an Islamic State, coupled with what they’re going to do to our contractors in Yemen and Afghanistan is, sadly, it’s going to be tragic there and we all see it coming.” Another member of the committee confirmed both Clinton and Rice raised concerns about the potential fallout from a quick removal of all U.S. troops.
Both also expressed concerns about protecting U.S. diplomats on the ground following the withdrawal and what the move will mean for the global war on terrorism. Both Rice and Clinton supported military intervention in the Middle East following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Rice, who was Bush’s national security adviser at the time, helped craft the administration’s wartime response. Then-senator Clinton — considered by many as a military hawk — voted in 2002 to give Bush the authority to go to war, a vote she later said she regretted while on the presidential campaign trail. Clinton also supported surging additional troops to Afghanistan in 2009.
Hunter could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not be charged.
• Giuliani Says FBI Agents Declined To Take Hunter Biden’s Hard Drives (JTN)
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani during an interview on Thursday said that FBI agents who searched his home this week declined to take Hunter Biden’s hard drives. Giuliani said that seven FBI agents showed up early Wednesday morning with a warrant for electronics. He said when he asked them if they wanted to take Hunter Biden’s hard drives, they declined. “Hunter Biden’s hard drives fall within the scope of the subpoena. The subpoena required them to take all electronics, but they decided to leave that behind. And they also were completely content to rely on my word that these were Hunter Biden’s hard drives,” the former mayor told conservative commentator Tucker Carlson during an interview on the Fox News Channel.
Giuliani described the warrant as “completely illegal,” saying that the only way authorities can obtain a search warrant is if they can demonstrate that the individual will destroy or abscond with the evidence. “Well I’ve had it for two years and I haven’t destroyed it. And they also got it from the iCloud,” he said, adding that the warrant was unjustified, unlawful and unconstitutional. Giuliani said that he has “never, ever represented a foreign national.” “The search warrant is purportedly based on one single failure to file for representing a Ukrainian national or official that I never represented,” he said. Giuliani stated that he “never represented a Ukrainian national or official before the United States government. I’ve declined it several times. I’ve had contracts in countries like Ukraine. In the contract is a clause that says I will not engage in lobbying or foreign representation. I don’t do it because I felt it would be too compromising,” he said.
”..stirring the escalating row between the European Union and Russia in which diplomats are being expelled pell-mell..”
• Lavrov Calls Out Perfidious Albion in EU Diplomat Spat (SCF)
The British establishment likes to boast that they “punch above their weight” in terms of influence beyond their territorial size. It’s not hard to see how they manage such a feat. It’s called duplicity, intrigue, lies, and dividing and ruling. Britain is fomenting a diplomatic crisis between the European Union and Russia, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Evidence and precedent indicate Lavrov has his sight well-trained. The British establishment’s notorious ability for machination and intrigue – hence the ancient moniker Perfidious Albion – can be seen as stirring the escalating row between the European Union and Russia in which diplomats are being expelled pell-mell.
This week, Russia ordered the withdrawal of representatives from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia. That came in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from those countries. Russia has also ordered home more diplomats from the Czech Republic. Poland and Italy have also been caught up in diplomatic antagonism with Moscow. The row blew up last week when the Czech Republic accused Russian state agents of being responsible for twin explosions on its territory back in 2104. The blasts caused the deaths of two workers at an ammunition depot near the village of Vrbetice close to the border with Slovakia. Until recently, the Czech authorities had concluded that the explosions were an industrial accident. What prompted the Czechs to revise their ideas and to now blame Russia for sabotage is the interpolation of Britain in providing “new information”.
Specifically, it was the MI6-sponsored media group Bellingcat (a so-called private investigatory agency) which appears to have furnished the disinformation which purports to show the involvement of Russian military intelligence (GRU). Incredibly, the British claim their “evidence” shows that two of the GRU agents were also the same individuals who were alleged to have been involved in poisoning the Russian traitor-spy Sergei Skripal in England in 2018. The British claim to have passport information to support their claims, but such methodology is rife with forgery – a black art that the British are all-too skilled at. On leveling the accusation against Russia, the Czech Republic then ordered the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats. Moscow responded angrily, saying that the claims of sabotage were a “dirty fabrication” and pointing out that Prague did not provide any information for verification.
Russia took swift reciprocal action by banishing 20 Czech diplomats from its territory. However, the row continues to flare with the Baltic states entering the fray by banning Russian officials in “solidarity” with the Czech Republic. The move by the Baltic states is predictable as they are supercharged by anti-Russian political sentiment. It’s a case of any excuse for them to inflame relations. The dispute comes at a fraught time when the European Union is discussing imposing more sanctions on Russia over wider concerns about the conflict in Ukraine, the imprisonment of blogger Alexei Navalny and a Russian security crackdown on Navalny’s shadowy Western-backed “opposition” network.
The US might wish they had a Lavrov.
• Lavrov: US-Russia Relations Now Worse Than Cold War (ZH)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that the state of US-Russia relations is now even worse than during the Cold War. His Wednesday comments during a televised interview might be easily dismissed as hyperbole, given there’s not something that’s quite equivalent to the Cuban missile crisis happening right now, but it does accurately convey things in terms of lack of simple communications at a diplomatic level. He said it was the “lack of respect” in the current climate that makes things worse. Lavrov explained Moscow has a desire to normalize ties with Washington but that should the Biden administration refuse respectful dialogue, “we would live in conditions of a ‘Cold War’ or worse.”
“During the Cold War, the tensions were flying high and risky crisis situations often emerged, but there was also a mutual respect,” he said as cited in The Associated Press. “It seems to me there is a deficit of it now.” Whether or not this dangerous trajectory in lack of “respect” and communications will continue is likely to be determined on whether the proposed Biden-Putin summit actually takes place this summer. In the past days there’s been multiple reports from both sides signaling the meeting is in preparation for a European country for mid-June. The latest on Russia’s view on summit progress comes via the AP as follows: “Speaking in an interview with Russian state television, Lavrov noted that Moscow has had a “positive” attitude to U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposal to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but added that Russia still needs to analyze all aspects of the initiative.”
What cann we do to stop these complete idiots?
• Geoengineering: ‘Plan B’ For The Planet (Phys.Org)
Dismissed a decade ago as far-fetched and dangerous, schemes to tame the effects of global warming by engineering the climate have migrated from the margins of policy debates towards centre stage. “Plan A” remains tackling the problem at its source. But the UN’s top climate science body has made it clear that slashing carbon pollution won’t be enough to keep Earth from overheating. That has opened the door to a host of geoengineering schemes, from building underwater walls to shore up an Antarctic glacier the size of Britain to injecting a giant sunscreen into the stratosphere. Here is a menu of “Plan B” geoengineering solutions, along with their potential drawbacks:
Direct CO2 capture Experiments have shown it is possible to suck planet-warming carbon dioxide directly from the air, converting it into fuel pellets or storing it underground. A company backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates launched a pilot facility in Canada in 2015, and another company operates one in Iceland. DRAWBACK: The technology is currently prohibitively expensive and might take decades to operate at scale.
Solar radiation management Unlike other strategies, solar radiation management does not target CO2. The goal is simple: prevent some of the sun’s rays from hitting the planet’s surface, forcing them back up into space. One idea is to inject or spray tiny reflective particles into the stratosphere—possibly with balloons, aircraft or through giant tubes. Nature sometimes does the same: Debris from the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines lowered the planet’s average surface temperature for a year or two afterwards. Sixty-six million years ago, a ten-kilometre wide asteroid strike threw up so much debris that it wiped out land-based dinosaurs built for steamy tropical climes.
In April, a balloon test flight in Sweden for the Harvard-led project SCoPEx, short for “Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment”, was postponed amid concerns over the implications for the environment and people in the country. DRAWBACKS: Even if it works as intended, solar radiation management would do nothing to reduce atmospheric CO2, which is making oceans too acidic. There is also the danger of knock-on consequences, including changes in rainfall patterns, and what scientists call “termination shock”—a sudden warming if the system were to fail.
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