The Restoration and Rebirth of the Earth Atmosphere

| September 14, 2018 | Leave a Comment

Image of the thin blue line of earth's atmosphere

Media Type: Article - Recent

Year of Publication: 2018

Author(s): Thomas Boudreau Ph.D.

Categories: ,

The need to mobilize the world’s states, peoples, and resource to restore the global atmosphere to levels of 400 ppm as the immediate challenge of humanity in order to survive climate change. This can be done using a variety of mitigation methods, including negative emissions, but we are rapidly running out of time to make a decisive difference.


SUMMARY: THE IMMEDIATE IMPERATIVE: RESTORATION TO 400 PPM OF CO2

In view of the great and growing dangers of climate change,[1] the immediate task of all peoples, states, international organizations (INOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private industry must seek to restore the global atmosphere to levels at or below 400 PPM as an Immediate and achievable task. The ultimate task by all states must be collective efforts to restore the Earth’s atmosphere to 350 PPM, the level that Dr. James Hansen of NASA and other scientists have identified as critical to sustaining life on this planet. [2] Thus, as a starting point, an UNGA resolution should call for the recognition of the Earth Atmosphere as a global trust and calling for its RESTORATION for present and pending generations; this is now an immediate and historic responsibility of all of humanity. We are rapidly running out of time to take any sort of effective collective action, so it must be emphasized with the ultimate serious: the time to act is now, or never. So the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)  and  other world leaders must make a clarion call to begin such a RESTORATION AND REBIRTH OF THE EARTH ATMOSPHERE as the most immediate and ultimate task of humanity.[3]

This reflection paper is an excerpt from the Barry University Law journal article by the same title which can be found in the Environmental and Earth law Journal (2017) at: https://lawpublications.barry.edu/ejejj/vol7/iss1/. See this article for full footnotes and sources.

             Dedicated to the memory of Wangari Maathai, Kenya

Where there is no vision, the people perish”

Proverbs 29:18

RESTORATION OF THE EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE

Picture1Restoration

INTRODUCTION: THE GREAT MORAL CHALLENGE OF OUR AGE

AGENDA 2030: THE RESTORATION AS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:

 It should be pointed out that such a RESTORATION effort is almost synonymous with sustainable development, broadly defined, and must include a variety of mitigation strategies and methods such as continuing carbon cuts as well as greatly accelerated research and development of Green Technologies; as the 2030 Agenda states, “We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path.” The term “transformative” or “transformation” is key since this is exactly what the restoration requires as well.  Due to the severity of current and coming climate change, the only way now to achieve these 2030 goals is to seek a restoration of the atmosphere.[1] States and peoples must undertake—in the spirit of Gandhi— massive “Experiments with the Truth” and begin sustained diplomatic efforts immediately to restore the atmosphere before we soon simply run out of time. [2]

Fortunately, there is a carrot—unlike carbon cuts which are often viewed as punitive by some governments, restoration of the earth’s atmosphere that includes negative emissions can be a much greater domestic economic stimulus than military spending and thus help create hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs throughout the world. This can enhance sustainable development for all and immeasurably help developing countries achieve the goals of Agenda 2030. This stimulus result will make any current leader much more popular at home, and even abroad. In short, this goal of atmospheric RESTORATION is still within reach; if there are enough or even the same number of entrepreneurial scientists and engineers that, say, work in defense industries or space agencies among the MIOPS, this goal should be within human possibility to obtain. But time is rapidly running out. Unfortunately, our collective capacity to restore the global atmosphere will inevitably degrade due to the increasing damage caused by climate change to the ecologies and economies of the world. Also, there are always the specters fueled by increasing national debts of economic decline or even catastrophic international war. So, we must begin NOW, or very soon. States and peoples must undertake—in the spirit of Gandhi— massive “Experiments with the Truth” and begin sustained diplomatic efforts immediately to restore the atmosphere before we soon simply run out of time.

Such RESTORATION efforts will create enormous employment as well. Specifically, we must experiment with, and deploy carbon sequestration methods and technologies, among other possible techniques and conservation strategies, to lower the Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. In particular, the “Iron-Hypothesis” –the placing of iron particles in the oceans to grow massive plankton blooms has not been empirically tested to the necessary degree or scale of potential oceanic application—beyond feeble “one (or two)shot” attempts and then subsequent very tentative studies.[3]  The funds for these can come through an Earth Armistice or by the MIOPs paying for the remediation of their proportionate contribution of CO2 and other Green House Gases (GHGs) to the global atmosphere.[4]

In short, the critical RESTORATION of the global atmosphere can be enhanced by developing, a portfolio of mitigation methods; such a portfolio must specifically include concerted efforts to develop an experimental and then ideally, if proven effective, the operational capability to deploy iron filings from ALL ships—the so-called “Iron Hypothesis,”—on a massive scale in the Southern Oceans (NASA, 2015; George, 2007).[5] In particular, the iron ore mines of Argentina are near railroad lines that lead directly to ports on its southern coast (Puerto Deseado), where the great Antarctica plankton blooms seem to begin. Argentina is ideal since all the key components of carbon sequestration can be brought together with the smallest carbon footprint and maximum potential impact. On the other side of South America, Peru and Ecuador seem to be the literal ocean front for the great Transpacific Plankton bloom.[6] Thus, the question becomes: Who will fund these projects?  The answer must be those states that have historically placed the most CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) up there; these states can be described as the Most Industrialized or Polluting States or “MIOPs” and include the United States, China, Russia and Germany or the EU.[7]

As such, the MIOPS should begin to fund pilot projects in Argentina and, when proven though constant experimentation and testing to work, commence large scale implementation of carbon sequestration right on Argentina’s coast where the subsequent Plankton blooms might spread throughout the southern oceans. Carbon sequestration, which involves land or sea based efforts to capture and sequester CO2, removing it from the global atmosphere, is distinguished here from Geo-Engineering efforts that involves the airborne efforts to spray or cast out effluents that will then reflect the sun’s light back into outer space. While both approaches involve dangers and possible unseen consequences, I favor carbon sequestration over geo-engineering since it can be deployed in large areas in removed places far from population centers. Yet, all methods must be attempted, and implemented until one or more are proven to succeed in cutting the constant increases of C02, GHGs, in the Earth atmosphere, as well as the slow but steady increase in the Earth’s average temperature are stopped and reversed; these approaches include: carbon cuts which have been preferred and the focus of most international efforts since the Rio Earth Summit; a) carbon sequestration based on the “Iron Hypothesis” and other land based or sea based methods of capturing CO2; b) carbon farming; c) olivine oxidation; d) geoengineering such as the purported possibilities of solar reflection. [8] Other potentially large scale carbon sequestration methods must be implemented as well. Untried ways to achieve the massive carbon sequestration should be as varied and innovative as the human imagination and following policy initiatives allow. For instance, vastly expanded and added efforts must include, in memory and honor of Wangari Maathai, the continuous planting a billion trees per year on each of the inhabited mainland continents; there should also be massive and accelerated conservation efforts with energy or electricity as well as recycling, especially throughout the developed world where the waste is greatest. Time is now not on our side as the danger of irreversible climate change is rapidly growing; so, we need to accelerate global climate consultations, continuous negotiations and lasting action.

 As a global organization, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) can help mobilize the necessary commitment to RRESTORATION as well as the necessary research and development of policies, programs and technologies especially during yearly or bi-yearly special sessions to accomplish greater efficiencies in all possible mitigation methods, including healthy carbon sequestration as well more remote techniques as “in stratosphere” and space-based solar screening. In short, every possible mitigation method or every “Experiment with Truth” —in the spirit of Gandhi — must be tried until one or more mitigation method proves effective. [9]

In doing so, the rather obvious ethical and even legal rule of application is that such mitigation or sequestration technologies should not be deployed if the actual damage that they cause is greater than the growing danger and increasing devastating consequences of continuing, unabated global climate change. There is now a cruel yet unavoidable calculus of cost-benefits calculations concerning the benefits and inevitable consequences of simply doing nothing, such as droughts, migrations and increasing extinction events. For instance, critics of carbon sequestration in the oceans often cite the unintended potential consequences of large scale deployment of technologies based on the Iron Hypothesis; yet, there is a massive and growing toxic orange algae bloom growing off the coast of California RIGHT NOW (2017) caused by increased temperatures and unabated climate change. [10] This toxic bloom is causing a massive and growing kill-off of fish, the seabirds or mammals that rely upon them.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the globe, species extinction is accelerating due to climate change, and projected to continue in the future. Scholars and policy makers have long speculated about the inevitable increases in human conflict as entire populations migrate or suffer from famine or drought due to climate change. The increasing costs of not doing anything effective and thus allowing such unintended consequences to GROW— has to be calculated against the possible and still hypothetical unintended consequences of carbon sequestration methods. Due to the rapidly collapsing climate status quo, the deadly costs of doing “nothing more” are very steeply increasing. “Policy Purists” who advocate “carbon cuts or nothing!”— which was perhaps an appropriate attitude and approach twenty years ago — are now possibly the greatest hindrance to climate progress and even human survival. There are now rapidly increasing costs of doing nothing can to be measured, calculated and compared, even roughly, against the inevitable cost/benefits of carbon sequestration methods, geoengineering and the R/D of new technologies; the time has now simply passed when ethically “ideal” or “pure” cost free measures were perhaps feasible. The Earth is rapidly heating up to uninhabitable levels, or will in the next years and decades, the polar ice caps and glaciers are melting at unprecedented levels, sea levels are rising and extreme weather events are spreading as well as intensifying; in view of deeply troubling developments, we need to intensify our efforts through a collective commitment to climate policy pluralism and have a variety of strategies, methods and approaches to stabilizing the Earth’s climate; so far, it becoming increasingly obvious—except to rabid climate deniers and ironically environmental purists— that carbon cuts alone simply aren’t working. The Paris Agreement states that, even if fully implemented, the Agreement will leave significant gaps in the action that is needed. We can’t wait any longer for states to voluntarily comply; we need to mobilize new mitigation methods, including negative emissions, in order to successfully address the increasingly catastrophic global crisis of climate change.

 Furthermore, what if “Plan A”—the Paris Agreement and the promised carbon cuts—simply does not work in time, or are too little too late? The specter of the similar yet largely unsuccessfully Kyoto Protocol based largely on the same process of providing “promissory notes” concerning voluntary carbon cuts by states, should caution us not to place all our hopes again in only one approach or plan.[11] In view of this, we need, a truly experimental approach to try simultaneously other diplomatic approaches and collective methods to prevent further catastrophic climate change. For instance, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), “total world military expenditure rose to $1739 billion in 2017, a marginal increase of 1.1 per cent in real terms from 2016.”[12]  Given this, states have the funds and can devote a significant fraction of this enormous expenditure of funds to actually overcoming climate change in the very near future, especially if states declare an Earth Armistice until the great and growing danger of climate change is overcome.[13] To do so requires states to define their current and future national security in terms of ending the threat of climate change; this is becoming increasingly obvious to defense ministries around the world.[14] Governments of the United States, China, Germany and the EU—the MIOPs—currently have the necessary funds to overcome climate change and restore the atmosphere to a nonthreatening level to all of life—if they define their national security in terms of ending drastic climate change. The MIOPs—who are also major spenders in arms expenditures—must lead in this effort, especially in view of their historic and continuing contributions to the GHGs that are largely responsible for climate change.

Yet, vested interests within governmental bureaucracies are powerful forces to preserve the budgetary status quo unless there are countervailing factors and pressing considerations that a country’s leadership must face and thus force changes within their government. If the Earth’s Atmosphere is internationally recognized as a global trust, then one such factor— however marginal— might be the pressing reality and prospect of such governments being held legally accountable for their proportionate responsibility to restore the atmosphere. If the domestic or regional courts of developing countries vigorously pursue this issue within their own jurisdictions, then religious leaders, elders, teachers, community groups, and private citizens must take personal and communal responsibility to act now to restore the atmosphere. With the deadly storms, wildfires, heat waves, winds and droughts rapidly increasing, we must act now; we will not get a second chance.

CONCLUSIONITS NOW, OR NEVER……

In view of the great and growing danger of climate change, humanity must fully mobilize with a truly historic common purpose to restore the earth’s atmosphere, once and for all. So, around the world, Political leaders, religious leaders, elders, teachers, community leaders and private citizens must make collective as well as personal responsibility to do everything possible to contribute to this critical RESTORATION. With time rapidly running out of time, and truly extreme weather events –such as droughts, wildfires, record heat weaves, hurricanes, floods, and extreme winds rapidly increasing– we will not get a second chance; so, the time to act is NOW to take every and all steps necessary to insure the RESTORATION AND REBIRTH of the Earth Atmosphere to, first 400 ppm and finally to 350 ppm of CO2. Only in this way can we insure the survival for all current and future generations of life on our Mother Earth.

See also:

Article on Earth Atmosphere as a Global Trust 

Website on Earth Armistice

 Website on Global Trust Project


[1] See note 31 at: https://lawpublications.barry.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1067&context=ejejj IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp.;

[2] James E. Hansen et. al, Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?, OPEN ATMOS. SCI. J., 2, 217-231 (2008); See also James E. Hansen and Makiko Sato, Paleoclimate implications for human-made climate change, 11 SPRINGER, 21, 21- 47 (2012); James Hansen et. al, Perception of climate change, 109 PNS, E2415-E2423 (2012); James E. Hansen, Defusing the global warming time bomb, 290 SCIENTIFIC 90 ENVIRONMENTAL AND EARTH LAW JOURNAL [Vol. 7]

[3] For full citations, and sources see: “The Earth Atmosphere as a Global Trust” at Environmental and Earth law Journal (2017) at: https://lawpublications.barry.edu/ejejj/vol7/iss1/

[4] See: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/21252030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development%20web.pdf

[5] Gandhi, M. (1983). Autobiography: The story of my experiments with truth. Courier Corporation

[6] Dopyera, C. (1996). The Iron Hypothesis. Earth Magazine, (October Issue). Also, infra, note 8

[7] For a discussion of the Earth Armistice proposal, which could raise hundreds of billions of dollars, see: https://mahb.stanford.edu/library-item/the-earth-armistice/.  For a discussion of proportionate state responsibility, see note 3, supra.

[8] See for instance R. Greene et. al, Testing the Iron Hypothesis in Ecosystems of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, 371 NATURE 123-129 (1994); John J. Cullen, Status of the Iron Hypothesis after the Open-Ocean Enrichment Experiment, 40 LIMNOLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY 1336-1343 (1995); Caroline Dopyera, The Iron Hypothesis, EARTHMAGAZINE (Oct. 1996), http://www.palomar.edu/oceanography/iron.htm; Carbon Sequestration, LAMONT-DOHERTY EARTH OBSERVATORY, www.Ideo.columbia.edu/gpg/projects/carbon sequestration; David Biello, Controversial Spewed Iron Experiment Succeeds as Carbon Sink: Dumping Iron into the Ocean Stimulates Blooms of Diatoms that pull down Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere—but only under the Right Conditions, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (Jul. 18, 2012), https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fertilizing-ocean-with-ironsequesters- co2/.

[9] See Supra, note 3.

[10] Ibid. Andrei. Supra note 3 “The Earth’s Atmosphere as a Global Trust” for full citations and sources/

[11] Ibid., Supra note 3.

[9] See supra, note 5: Gandhi, M. (1983).

[10] See Supra, note 3.

[11] See supra, note 3.

[12] [12]See:  https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2018/global-military-spending-remains-high-17-trillion

[13] See:  https://mahb.stanford.edu/library-item/the-earth-armistice/

[14] Ibid.


  Respectfully submitted to the UN Diplomatic Community at UN Headquarters,

Thomas Boudreau Ph.D.
Interdisciplinary Professor
Salisbury University
Salisbury, MD.  USA

Former Private Consultant to the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General
(1982-87), See book: Sheathing the Sword (1991)


THE RESTORATION: THE PLACES TO BEGIN

The Antarctica and Trans Pacific Plankton Blooms starting on the coasts of South America.

Picture2_Restoration

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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • Arnold Byron

    Doctor Boudreau. My comment is about two thoughts that you bring to your article. The first thought is: “We are rapidly running out of time to take any sort of effective collective action, so it must be emphasized with the ultimate serious: the time to act is now, or never. So, a world leader must make a clarion call to begin such a RESTORATION AND REBIRTH OF THE EARTH ATMOSPHERE as the most immediate and ultimate task of humanity”. The second thought is: “This reflection paper is an excerpt from the Barry University Law journal article by the same title which can be found in the Environmental and Earth law Journal (2017) at: https://lawpublications.barry.edu/ejejj/vol7/iss1/”.

    You hit the proverbial nail right on the head when you pronounced the following realities: the time to act is now or never; a world leader must make a clarion call; and these thoughts are also reflected in a law journal article. It is important that I tie these realities together. I will do so by asking, who is the world leader in this case?

    Has a world leader already been designated? To my mind the only authority that can authorize a world leader is all of the nations acting together. So far as I know the closest thing we have to a world leader, at this time, is the United Nations or perhaps the Secretary General. The problem is that the United Nations has spent nearly twenty-five years holding international climate meetings but the greenhouse gas and population numbers are still increasing. Why is that? Is it because the security council veto lies in the hands of the rich countries? You can be sure that the rich countries will insist that their special agendas be tended to before the United Nations can act on behalf of everyone.

    If the United Nations cannot be the world leader, who can? The article that you have presented was published in a law journal by a prestigious university. If I were to have my way, university law departments will have a much larger role in the future. MAHB has accepted articles that I have written under the title A Plan for the Nations. If you read my articles you will find that I have named – colleges and universities, throughout the world, working together – to be the world leader.

    It makes perfect sense. The colleges and universities are the repositories of intellect and creativity. If all of the colleges and universities of the world were to join together as a single association, they would have a strong voice. The nations would listen. Therefore, I call on such an association to develop a blueprint for a global office and stipulate that that global office would have the authority to solve the various planetary crises. The next step will be to sell that plan to the nations. When the nations agree humanity would have a true world leader. Then the work of solving the global crises can begin.

    In my articles I lay out a plan where the science departments, the comparative religion departments and the law departments are shown to be the core of a new world leadership. Again, what is the first step? The students, the faculty, the department heads, the presidents and the regents of colleges and universities worldwide need to buy into this idea and create a worldwide association.

  • Arnold Byron

    Doctor Boudreau. I have put forward my idea of a world leader. My world leader is the collective action of the colleges and universities, worldwide, in fashioning all of the documentation and push that will be needed to help the nations create a global office having the authority to take whatever measures are needed to prevent collapse by combating overpopulation, global warming and nuclear disaster.

    What will my world leader look like? Look at my Plan for the Nations, you will see a committee of twelve scholars consisting of six from science departments and six from comparative religion departments. This committee will have two subcommittees. The first subcommittee will be appointed and made up of persuasive, peerless, people (and their emissaries) so that the committee of twelve will always have a force to promote decisions and to fend off interference. The second subcommittee will be made up of twelve people who are elected, three from each of the following groups: science, humanities, business and government. These twelve will supervise a bureaucracy of offices and work stations, throughout the world, that will build all of the new infrastructure that will rid the atmosphere of carbon and maximize renewable energy production while ending fossil fuel usage; and to carry out any instructions regarding overpopulation and nuclear disaster issues.

    We all have ideas of actions that can be taken to solve the issues of global warming, overpopulation and nuclear disaster. If the colleges and universities organize to push the nations to create a global office we will finally have an authority to act on or reject our ideas.

  • Arnold Byron

    Doctor Boudreau. In your conclusion you call on every segment of humanity to step up and take responsibility. You write, “So, around the world, Political leaders, religious leaders, elders, teachers, community leaders and private citizens must make collective as well as personal responsibility to do everything possible to contribute to this critical restoration.” The article, which was published in the Barry University law journal, is centered on the increasing amount of carbon in the atmosphere. I want to expand the above call to include the overpopulation crisis. I do this because the issue of overpopulation is critical to every segment of humanity. Global warming is a consequence of overpopulation. As such they are linked.

    In a previous comment I call for a global office, spearheaded by the colleges and universities worldwide and authorized by the nations. This global office would be given the authority to make decisions on how to deal with the crises currently affecting humanity and the planet. The global office would solicit ideas from you and from me and from everywhere in the world. They will choose the best ways to deal with the global crises, order the work done and see that the work is completed. We all have ideas. I’m glad that there will finally be an authority who will accept or reject our various ideas.

    The article you have posted tells of possible efforts that can be engineered to affect the carbon in the atmosphere and the oceans. When brought to fruition these plans may very well remove carbon and sequester it in some natural or engineered storage place. I’m not a scientist so I don’t understand about the effectiveness of such large endeavors nor can I envision any unintended consequences. You also championed the planting of billions of trees. I may not understand geoengineering so much but I do understand that when plants grow carbon is captured by photosynthesis. It is interesting to note that the carbon becomes an element of the long chain polymers of plants. Further it is important to note that the long chain polymers can be broken into the short chain polymers that make up petroleum products.

    Getting back to my idea of a global office: The ideas that I would want a newly formed global office to accept are in three categories: negative population growth to three billion or fewer inhabitants; removing carbon from the atmosphere to 350ppm or less; and dismantling everything nuclear.

    Population control: I would have the global office initiate population control measures. The population will be reduced in a nonviolent, non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane manner. New laws and mores will be instilled into the nations with the goal of achieving the following formulas: two people will raise one child to adulthood for reduction; two people will raise two children to adulthood for maintenance; and two people will raise three children to adulthood for increase. Population control will create a new paradigm for humanity. Going forward the global office will keep the population in sync with planetary resources by determining when humanity needs to be in a period of reduction, maintenance or increase. The nations will have to accept new laws, new judiciary and new customs.

    Removing carbon from the atmosphere: I have two main ideas under this topic.
    My first request to the global office will be to install renewable solar and wind energy production in such numbers that the energy produced will supplant fossil fuel usage. This will take a huge amount of money, but the money is available. The people who understand how money works will have to be involved in making the money retain its value as it is being used for crises management. The twelve people chosen to administer the global office will be engaged with all of the experts in every facet: science, human relations and financial.
    My second idea is to build thousands of mini refineries throughout the world. The reason: to break apart the long chain polymers of carbonaceous materials into the short chain polymers of petroleum products. The word I like to use to describe this process is depolymerization. We know this can be done because we do it when we refine petroleum oil. Depolymerization can be done in mini refineries as well as in huge petroleum refineries. It makes sense to change household garbage, old tires, plastics, newspapers, and fields of plants into the petroleum products we will need to transition away from fossil fuel. It also makes sense to do this locally. Every batch of carbonaceous materials run through a mini refinery will produce lightweight petroleum products such as gasoline and heavyweight carbon materials such as tar and asphalt. The concentration of carbon in the tar and asphalt is evidence that we are removing carbon from the atmosphere.