Blocking Out The Sun

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by Portfolio Armor
Thursday, Jul 13, 2023 - 11:31
Blocking Out The Sun
Image from the White House's report on blocking out the sun to reduce global warming

The Ministry For The Future

There are two contemporary science fiction novelists worth paying attention to to understand our possible near future, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Neal Stephenson. Robinson is worth paying attention to because he is a rare leftist who takes the left's ideas seriously, and sketches out their consequences, and Stephenson is worth paying attention to because he has a track record of predicting the future (his novel Snow Crash is considered required reading by some prominent venture capitalists). 

Both Robinson and Stephenson addressed global warming in their most recent novels; of the two, Robinson's Ministry For The Future was the more dystopian one, in our view. 

In it, Robinson envisions central bank digital currencies and other authoritarian methods to get people to emit less carbon. 

In Neal Stephenson's global warming novel, Termination Shock, the approach he envisions is blocking out the sun, by having rockets spray sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. 

That appears to be the direction the U.S. government is leaning in right now. Our friend Dr. William Briggs, who happens to be a meteorologist as well as "statistician to the stars" did some back-of-the-envelope math on the feasibility of this plan; with his gracious permission, I have shared his full post below. Before we get to it, a brief top names update. 

Top Names Update

Regular readers may recall that we post our system's current top ten names each week on our Substack, and that our top names have had strong performance so far this year. For example, our top ten names from the first week in January were up nearly 40% over the next six months. 

(The flat line on the chart above is RXDX, which was acquired by Merck in April). 

We're going to be posting our current top ten names tonight; if you'd like a heads up when we do, feel free to subscribe to our trading Substack/occasional email list below. 

Now on to Dr. Briggs's excellent post. 

Authored by William Briggs at Science Is Not The Answer

Congress Mandated Experts Design Plan To Block The Sun — And Kill Us All



I trust you noticed the euphemism “solar radiation modification.” By which they meant blocking the sun. Which is not sane. It is insane. Which does not mean unexpected.

Our rulers and Experts also claim women can have penises, among other thought atrocities. Which means the only rational act is to distrust everything rulers and Experts say. Start with the belief that they are crazy, ignorant, or evil. Do not believe any ruler- or Expert-issued proposition unless you have checked it back to front, front to back, inside out, and every which way. And then still hold on to some doubt.

Good news first.

The report said Experts have ruled out mirrors in space and painting rooftops white. One can with ease envision idiot Experts in space floating about, trying to align mirrors just so, the occasional one breaking free into deep space. The occasional Expert, I mean. Fun. And you, dear reader, can see in your mind busloads of illegal aliens driving house to house and slathering on sloppy layers of white paint, which would drip down the sides in the first rain.

Now the bad news.

What they do recommend is “stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) and marine cloud brightening (MCB)”. The first might be called the Gates Plan. Which is to launch the cremated remains of people into space, the human dust blocking the sun’s rays.

I might be wrong about the source of the dust, but dust it will be.

Quiz: when you think of the Gates Plan, what worries come first to your mind? What are the most important concerns you have? Pause and think of these before reading further. Because I’m going to tell you the government’s first major concern and don’t want to prejudice your thinking.

Have it?

Here’s the government’s main worry about blocking the sun’s rays: “Of particular importance is consideration of potential jeopardy to diverse communities and intergenerational equity.”

Experts Cause World’s End, Diverse Communities Suffering Intergenerational Inequity Hardest Hit

The document is keen on vice signaling: “The Biden-Harris Administration strongly affirms that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world, particularly those countries and communities most vulnerable to its adverse effects.”

There’s our favorite joke again.

Anyway, just how will they heft sufficient dust into the stratosphere or space to block the sun, and what will happen when they do so?

They do not say. They haven’t a clue.

The report is forty-four pages of stalling. There is plenty of O, Woe Is Us! because of “climate change”. How health might, someday, be negatively affected. How crops might, someday, be negatively affected. How pollination might, someday, be negatively affected. How wildfires might, someday, be negatively affected. How geopolitics might, someday, be negatively affected. How “environmental justice” might, someday, be negatively affected.

Like all such reports, the Experts behind it find it impossible to believe, or to state, that any good can come from “climate change.”

Indeed, so wishy washy, so full of vaporous nothing, is this mandated report, that we suspect it was written with great reluctance. All the usual “what if” horrors are there, but in boilerplate fashion. Yes, it has the fingerprints of the White House’s DIE zampolit who ensured all the proper shibboleths were included. But that’s it.

The whole thing remains a giant nothing. Which means not all Experts have lost their minds, or that none are bright enough to think of how to do what they were asked.


I’m happy to announce that I have done what the Experts did, or could, not, and thought about the plan to inject particles into the stratosphere.

The best analogy we have is the Mt Pinatubo eruption in the PI in 1991. Government Experts say about 17 megatons of sulfur dioxide were spit into the stratosphere, which knocked back some of the sun’s rays, lowering Northern Hemisphere temperatures, at the peak, “of up to” half a degree C. Or about 1 degree in civilized units. You have to love the use of marketing language: “up to”.

It took about a year for the SO2 to mix around the globe, and it lasted about two years before reacting and precipitating out. The average over two years might have been something like 0.1 degree C decrease in global average temperature.

Anyway, 17 megatons every two years gets “up to” 0.5 C decrease, on average, and probably closer to 0.1 C. If you are feeling magnanimous, make it the full 0.5 C decrease. Per hemisphere. We’d need another 17 megatons for the Southern Hemisphere. For a total (doing this without a calculator, friends) 34 megatons. Or, since this last two years, 17 megatons per year. To get “up to” a half degree decrease.

That, my dear friends, is a lot of SO2. To inject each and every year, apparently for forever, since the amount of dreaded CO2 isn’t decreasing. And they claim it’s CO2 causing temperature increases.

Now unless Experts have a plan into teasing volcanoes into erupting (easy, if they’re female), they’re going to have to get that SO2 up there another way.

Airplanes? One big jet carries about 300 persons at about 200 lb per person, which is 60,000 pounds. Or 30 tons. To get 17 megatons we’d need to cram SO2 onto just under 300 thousand flights a year. Which is about 775 flights each and every day—forever—shooting up to the stratosphere to dump their loads of SO2.

Alas, ordinary airplanes are not going to get to the stratosphere, which starts at about 30 miles up.

So it’s rockets.

Heavy-lift rockets carry, wokepedia says, 20,000 to 50,000 kg. Which is 44 thousand to 110 thousand pounds, or about 22 to 55 tons. About the same, then, as large jets. So we’d need about the same number of rocket flights, 500 to 1,000 every day. Each day. Forever.

It costs about $10,000 per kg for a rocket to heft junk into low-earth orbit (link below). Let’s shave a 0 off of that since we’re only going 50 to 100 miles up. This is fair, since these rockets will surely be single use. Let’s be Santa Claus and say $1,000 per kg or 2.2 pounds. That’s roughly a million for a ton.

And we need 17 megatons, which is 17 million million bucks per year. Which is a trillion. Every year. Each year. Forever.

And all this is before the cost of the SO2 itself. Which isn’t free. One source, if I read it right, has 800 pound drums for a bulk price of $8 per. Well, with deep discounts and frequent customer status, make this $2 per ton. Which we need 17 megatons, or only $34 million a year, an exceptional bargain.

To lower the temperature “up to” a half a degree C. A thousand rockets a day, forever.

At best. This all assumes Experts models are perfect and that CO2 is as demonic as they say it is, et cetera. And that the bureaucracy created to launch the rockets is costless. And that China’s crop failure in some year isn’t blamed on Experts, and war commences, etc. etc.


I reject the stratosphere plan as simplistic, because the particles accreting around SO2 would precipitate out. As we saw, they’d have to be continually injected into the stratosphere

So in service to our idiot insane unscrupulous rulers, I have done some back-of-the-envelope calculations about launching dust into space. This would only have to be done once.

The closest point we could put the dust would be in the first Lagrangian point, which is 1.5 x 10^9 meters out. There it would become a positive menace to celestial navigation. But it might discourage aliens from believing there is intelligent life on earth.

Dry dirt weighs about one to two metric tons per cubic meter. Let’s be generous and say 1 x 10^3 kg.

There has to be some density of dust. We don’t want solid chunks like an opaque wall of dirt a meter thick. So let’s spread that one cubic meter of dirt out to, say, 100 square meters (about 33 feet a side: thin!). We can ignore the depth. How they can spread this evenly in zero gravity is anyone’s guess. It would seem to be next to an impossible task. But never mind. These are Experts.

The little patch would block, being extraordinarily generous, say 1% of the impinging solar radiation. Sunlight would hit the patch and and 1% would careen off into space. Maybe to end up on Mars, if we angle everything just right. Is this a Musk plot?

Now the earth’s surface is about 5 x 10^9 km^2, but of course only half that surface faces the sun at any time. And a good chuck–let’s be charitable and say only half of the half—receives direct radiation, the rest getting bent (and thus not as strong) rays. That makes, rounding down to make it easy, 1 x 10^9 km^2 of important surface area. And, of course, in 1 square kilometer there are 1 million square meters. So the amount of the earth’s surface getting hit with serious sun is about 1 x 10^15 m^2.

Our biggest, and nicest of all to Experts, assumption is that the sun’s rays are “straight”. They point right from the sun to earth. So that—and this isn’t right, but it’s way in favor of Experts—an area blocked out in space becomes the same area blocked on earth. This represents an extreme Best Case Scenario.

That means we’d need 1 x 10^15 m^2 of dust, ignoring thickness, to block less than 1% of the incoming radiation. In every 100 m^2 of dust is one cubic meter of dirt. So we’d need 1 x 10^13 cubic meters of dirt. Which weighs 1 x 10^16 kg.

As we saw above, it costs between $10,000 to $100,000 per kg to launch this in low orbit. Since we’re being generous, let’s call it $10,000. Very generous, because low orbit is far from L1.

Which means it would cost about 1 x 10^20 dollars to block about 1% of incoming solar radiation. That’s before considering we’re not getting the dirt-carrying rockets back, and they have a lot farther to go than low-earth orbit.

How much is 1 x 10^20 dollars? Well, a trillion is 1 x 10^12. So that’s 100 million trillion. Which is a lot.

And how much is 1% of blocked sunlight? My friends, very little. Almost nothing. Especially considering that if you use a plausible instead of generous scenario, it will be much less than 1%. It’s still enough to excite oligarchs, rulers, and Experts who think they can latch onto the scheme and get their cuts from it, though.

Well, I did all this over a cup of coffee early yesterday morning, and double-checked nothing since the task was so depressing, so maybe you can see tweaks or fixes.

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