In the news recently, there was discussion of using helium balloons for geoengineering, as a method for dispersing aerosols or cloud-nucleation droplets into the atmosphere. (The proposal was critiqued here by George Monbiot). This idea is just the latest in growing field of science-based speculation on active climate system intervention, some of which has been discussed previously on BNC. However, this website, being a blog and discussion site, cannot hope to serve as comprehensive resource for technical evaluations. That is where The Azimuth Project looks to be extremely useful.
The website, a wiki of sorts, was established in late 2010 by mathematical physicist Dr John Baez, and is already a massive compendium (John also runs a blog). The motivation and goal is summarised as follows:
The Azimuth Project is an international collaboration to create a focal point for scientists and engineers interested in saving the planet. Our goal is to make clearly presented, accurate information on the relevant issues easy to find, and to help people work together on our common problems.
Saving the planet
“Saving the planet” may sound pompous. But the very health of the planet is in peril because of the actions of humankind. Whether it is global warming, mass extinction, peak oil, or other problems, we need to be prepared on many fronts for an uncertain future.
Our goal is not to replace or compete with existing sources of information, but to provide a bird’s-eye view of the information that already exists. We want to make it easy for any scientist or engineer to understand the whole problem and understand specialist literature in many subjects outside their particular domain of expertise.
More explanation of the goals of the project, and how you can help out, is given here. There is also a discussion forum. I’d encourage you — especially if you’re technically inclined — to check it out.
I’ve already found The Azimuth Project resource to be highly useful. For instance, regular BNC commenter and SCGI member Graham Cowan (who promotes the idea of boron-fuelled vehicles), has often talked about enhanced weathering as a potentially effective way to draw down CO2 that is already airborne (as opposed to capturing it at source, or intervening in other ways to cool the planet). After reading the AP page on the idea, I have a much better understanding of what he’s driving at. There are similarly useful pages on everything from peak oil (and peak uranium) to sea level rise, to solar breeders, to me (!).
Projects like Azimuth will obviously work best with ongoing participation from a worldwide retinue of contributors. Why bother? Because if done credibly, it may well be that resources like this will become one-stop-shops that you can recommend to your family, friends, business associates or even politicians, to make informed rather than evidence-free choices about our future options.
Do you know of any similar resources that you’d recommend as core information sites? If so, let us know in the comments. A few others that I regularly direct people to are Sustainable Energy — Without the Hot Air, The Discovery of Global Warming, The World Nuclear Association Information Service, Skeptical Science, and my own efforts (e.g., TCASE and IFR FaD).
Changing topic, I also wish to point out a new study by the WNA on life-cycle emissions from different electricity generation technologies, which complements (and is in general agreement with) the meta-review data I reported in TCASE 13. The following chart was particularly interesting, as it shows the similarities and differences between LCA estimates from university, industry and government-based researchers. The biggest differential seems to be for natural gas, but surprisingly, the industry estimate was the highest!