Cloud Seeding Yachts

Mike Schuler
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August 11, 2008

Obviously, greatly reducing CO2 emissions from the burning fossil fuels is the ideal solution for fighting global warming.  However, what if there is more we can do?  Well, researchers John Latham of the University of Manchester and Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh have proposed a radical idea that could actually counter the warming effect caused by increased CO2 emissions and induce cooling.

The idea: developing a fleet of wind powered cloud seeding yachts.  These yachts would pump salty sea water particles into the air, thus increasing the reflectivity of clouds covering 25% of the worlds water mass.  By increasing the the amount of solar energy reflected back into space, this form of cloud seeding would have a cooling effect on the earth’s atmosphere.

The yachts would be unmanned and operated via GPS positioning and the ideal location for these vessels is in the southern oceans, where most of this type of low-level cloud cover is.  Also, Flettner rotors would be used to power the yacht and turbines attached to the hull would generate the operational power, including the power needed for the spraying, making sea water the only raw material required.

They claim that a mere 3% increase in cloud reflectivity would fully counter the global warming affect caused by increased CO2 emissions and that this could be met with an estimated 1000 vessels, and as little as 50 vessels could produce a significant impact.

Of course, talk of cloud-seeding and essentially manipulating our atmosphere does not come without strong opposing arguments.  Many argue the costs or unintended consequences to our fragile ecosystem cannot be justified.  To this Latham and Salter claim various tests still need to be done, including implementation of the system on a small scale and that if an emergency did arise, the system can be turned off and conditions would return to normal within a couple of days.

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