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Environment

Is a Rogue Lab About to Set Off a Geoengineering Disaster?

DiscoblogBy Eliza StricklandMay 5, 2010 2:06 AM

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Last week, an atmospheric scientist named Kyle Vandercamp stumbled across some surprising documents at his job, and decided to blow the whistle on his employer, Bluebird Lab. The privately funded lab wasn't just researching potential geoengineering solutions--the planet hacks that could serve as a "plan B" if we can't get globe-warming CO2 emissions under control--it was actually preparing a full-blown, unilateral tryout for one of these schemes, he said. Freaky, eh? Might be something to be alarmed about--if it wasn't just a game. Vandercamp's blown whistle actually marked the start of an alternate reality game from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is now playing out on the Web. Players can work with Vandercamp and the other characters to unlock Bluebird Lab's secret files, and will probably be called upon to save the world before the game is through. The geoengineering scheme in question would shoot sulfate particles into the stratosphere to increase solar reflection, keeping some of the sun's heat from reaching Earth and therefore lowering temperatures. The game seems to be premised on the idea that all geoengineering is a terrible idea, which plenty of climate scientists would take issue with. But who knows what twists the game will take. And since the game's advisors reportedly include renowned geoengineering expert Ken Caldeira, the science should be sound. Regardless of how it plays out, the game has already offered a fascinating glimpse of how a corporation might try to sell the public on geoengineering in the not-too-distant future. Check out this video in which Bluebird presents its pitch: "It's not a solution, but it will make a solution possible." Related Content: 80beats: If We Can’t Stop Emitting CO2, What’s Our Plan B? 80beats: Fighting Global Warming: Artificial Trees and Slime-Covered Buildings 80beats: Obama’s Science Adviser Kicks Up a Fuss Over Geoengineering Discoblog: A Novel Geoengineering Idea: Increase the Ocean’s Quotient of Whale Poop DISCOVER: Forecasting the Future May Be a Matter of Fun & Games

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