Comprehensive Scientific Study Calculates the Cost of Geoengineering


Brandon Turbeville

As more and more evidence is produced on what is virtually a weekly basis regarding chemtrails, geo-engineering, and stratospheric modification, it is now the case that individuals who deny the existence of these programs may be classified as delusional, even as they have repeatedly attached this label to those who have acknowledged the existence of such programs in the past. Although the label of “conspiracy theorist” has been applied to people who have spoken out about geo-engineering for many years, the fact is that those who are incapable of acknowledging basic reality are only eroding their own credibility as time moves forward.

For many, the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts (i.e. “chemtrails are conspiracy theories” while “geo-engineering projects are needed to combat global warming”) is a major impediment to any real acceptance of the health and environmental consequences of barium oxide, cadmium, sulfur dioxide, and aluminum oxide being sprayed over their heads on a daily basis.

Likewise, the thought that governments, corporations, banks, and academia might be working in secret toward nefarious ends is beyond comprehension for a large portion of the general public.

However, as more and more mainstream media outlets and “respected” scientific organizations begin to openly admit the existence of both the technologies and the programs, the ability to deny it is a gift more closely associated with a mental disorder than with ignorance.

Thus, the recent release of a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters entitled, “Cost analysis of stratospheric albedo modification delivery systems,” should only serve to weaken the ridiculous claims that those individuals capable of looking above their heads and researching government programs are conspiracy nuts.

The study, conducted jointly between three researchers affiliated with three different institutions – Justin McClellan of Aurora Flight Science Corporation, David W. Keith of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Kennedy School at Harvard University, and Jay Apt of the Tepper School of Business and Department of Engineering and Public Policy of the Carnegie Mellon University – centered around the evaluation of the projected cost analysis of various systems capable of “delivering 1-5 million metric tonnes (Mt) of albedo modification material to altitudes of 18-30 km.”

The study also evaluated “existing aircraft cost of acquisition and operations, perform[ed] in-depth new aircraft and airship design studies and cost analyses, and survey[ed] rockets, guns, and suspended gas and slurry pipes, comparing their costs to those of aircraft and airships.”

It should be noted that the study does not “address the effectiveness, risks or social implications associated with the deployment of aerosols to the stratosphere for solar radiation management (SRM).” This particular study only evaluates the costs of “transporting a million tonnes of material to the stratosphere.”

Still, the researchers are clearly favorable to the idea of geo-engineering. In fact, this much is evidenced in their four-point statement as to why this study was undertaken and why they felt it was necessary to provide “rough order-of-magnitude estimates” of the cost of transportation for these particulate matters.

The study states,

First, the basic feasibility of SRM with current technology at low cost has been disputed. We think this work demonstrates clearly that it is feasible by showing that several independent options can transport the required material at a cost that is less that 1% of climate damages or the cost of mitigation. Removing this uncertainty is relevant whatever one’s view about implementation of SRM. Second, economists are beginning to explore cost-effectiveness and perform option value calculations to help understand the role of several types of geoengineering in climate policy. Rough order-of-magnitude costs are needed for their work. Third, political scientists and some policy makers are concerned about unilateral action. Our analysis provides insight into what might be possible – at a purely technical level – even for a small country, assuming it is able to procure the aviation services on an open market. Fourth, some atmospheric scientists are working on various methods for creating and dispersing particles other than simple SO2 injection.

Notice that the authors write that scientists are already working on methods for geoengineering.

In addition, it is stated that “As early as 1992, estimates were made of the cost of geoengineering,” citing the US National Research Council as proof.

Building on the findings of previous studies, the authors also suggest that, due to the nature of aerosols and the characteristics of stratosphere, it might be most efficient both in terms of cost and lifetime of the aerosols to disperse the material in the tropics above the tropical tropopause. Thus, the study reads,

To a rough approximation the circulation of air in the stratosphere rises from the tropics and descends at middle and high latitudes. Lifetime of air in the stratosphere is longest in the ‘overworld’ corresponding to potential temperatures above that of the tropical tropopause and shorter in the ‘middle world’ roughly corresponding to altitudes between the tropical and polar tropopause heights where air in the stratosphere mixes more rapidly with tropospheric air. These considerations suggest that long lifetimes and even distribution of stratospheric aerosol can be most easily achieved by delivering material in the tropics above the tropical tropopause.

The authors of this particular study were nothing if not thorough and scientific (with the exception of their adherence to anthropogenic global warming theories) throughout the entire process. Virtually every possible variable was taken into account that might affect the cost of stratospheric modificiation via aerosol dispersion.

Indeed, the authors took advantage of a set of CER (Cost Estimating Relationships) developed by the RAND Corporation; the Development and Procurement Costs of Aircraft (DAPCA) model. This model was instrumental to the estimation of costs for aerosol dispersal using existing aircraft (airplanes and airships) as well as the projections regarding “New Aircraft designs,” meaning aircraft that has yet to be unveiled to the general public at the time of the study.

Using the DAPCA model, a wide range of variables were considered such as fuel cost, fuel weight, fuel burn rate, thrust specific fuel consumption rate, personnel costs (air crews, site managers, maintenance personnel and logistics, pilots, copilots, payload operators flight crews, etc.), labor rates, and many other factors were all included in the calculations of the cost of dispersing aerosols using existing airplanes to the amount of 1 Mt yr -1.

All of these figures are represented in Table 1 of the study under the “Maintenance hours per flight hour” section. Other data included in the table are the “acquisition costs,” “modification cost,” “Number of aircraft required,” “Fleet acquisition cost,” and “Yearly operations cost.” The types of airplane studied include the Large cargo Boeing 747-400, Zoom climber (Boeing F-15E), Business Jet (Gulfstream C-37A), Airlifter (Boeing C-17), and the Supersonic Bomber (Rockwell B-1B).

In relation to the “Total yearly cost with depreciation and interest,” the Large cargo Boeing (747-400) and the Airlifter (Boeing C17) were tied at $1.1 billion. However, with modifications made to reach altitudes of 18.2 km, the Airlifter costs increased to $3.6 billion.

In relation to existing aircraft and aerosol delivery, the study claims,

Existing aircraft are optimized to transport a payload quickly and efficiency over a long distance; they are not optimized for high altitude flight and therefore are poorly suited to the geoengineering mission. Operating existing aircraft at their ceiling, or beyond with expensive modifications, requires lightly loading them, driving fleet size up. The zoom climber type (F-15E) does have high altitude capability, but its size drives fleet size to well over 100 aircraft and fuel consumption makes operations costs the highest of all airplane options examined. Supersonic bombers provide the payload and altitude capability required for geoengineering but the feasibility of acquiring and operating them is questionable and costs are high. Costs grow rapidly as altitude is increased. Figure 1 summarizes the yearly total cost for existing aircraft systems as a function of altitude.

The authors go on to discuss the potential for optimal “New aircraft design,” suggesting that “The optimized designs favor 2 engines over greater numbers as engines are a large contributor to RDT&E and acquisition costs as well as spare parts costs.” Other suggestions are made in this regard which can be found in the “New aircraft section” and section 6 of the supplementary data.

Notably, the study addresses other more novel forms of aerosol disbursal. Or, at least, methods which are not readily visible to the general public. These approaches include airships, rocket powered gliders, guns, and floating platforms with slurry pipes or gas pipes.

After the discussion of conventional aircraft (i.e. airplanes), the airship option finishes a distant second place. The authors sum up the feasibility of this option by writing,

Airships may provide an attractive solution to the mission of payload delivery because of their large payload capacity and long endurance potential. A key enabling innovation has been the use of internal bladders with adjustable pressure (ballonets) that allow dynamic adjustment of vehicle buoyancy. This allows the vehicle to descend after releasing payload without dumping helium. In recent years the concept of hybrid lift airships (HLA) that generate the majority of their lift from buoyant forces but generate a small percentage dynamically due to aerodynamic forces has emerged as a way to reduce vehicle size and improve ground handling. The HLA technology shows promise for geoengineering operations, but the technology is still in its infancy.

Rocket powered gliders were also considered as alternative means of aerosol dispersal, but in less practical terms, mainly due to cost. The study claims,

An analysis of a rocket powered system was carried out for comparison to airplanes. The concept vehicle utilizes off-the-shelf rocket engines or motors to boost a vehicle and payload to altitude. At apogee, wings are deployed to increase the vehicle’s lift-to-drag coefficient to allow it to glide at altitude and disperse payload. Once dispersal is completed, the wings retract to allow it to descend quickly.

Rocket glider cost estimates were developed (table 2 and section 8.1 of the supplementary data available at; however, a preliminary analysis showed this architecture is several orders of magnitude more costly than other systems.

In terms of guns, the study was even more unenthusiastic. Although the authors claimed that guns could be used to reach higher altitudes than what were dealt with in the study, the supposed lack of availability for commercial use and prohibitive cost prompted the researchers to discourage pursuit of this method as a central goal.

In the section, “Guns,” the study states,

We examined conventional and advanced gun designs, and reexamined a widely cited analysis of guns (US National Research Council 1992) that analyzed the costs of delivering sulfur to the stratosphere for geoengineering. The basis for this analysis is the Iowa-class battleship’s 16” Mark 7 naval gun.

Our scoping analysis of new gun technologies under development that utilize electromagnetics or hydrogen gas suggest that, while these technologies might be preferred for altitudes at or beyond the upper (100 kft) boundary of our study, they would not be preferred for the 50–80 kft altitudes of primary interest (supplementary data section 8.2 available at We also note that these new gun technologies are unlikely to be available for non-military uses for some time to come. The 16” naval guns represent a mature, deployable technology with almost a century of heritage. We consider these, and a modified gun using modern materials. Both were found to exceed the cost of deployment using other systems by one or two orders of magnitude.

The least feasible method of injecting aerosols into the stratosphere, according to the study, is the floating platform solution which involves the development and maintenance of an actual space elevator. Because this type of system has yet to be publicly developed, as well as a lack of available materials and adequate knowledge of cost, this method of stratospheric modification was relegated to future study.

In regards to the floating platform, the authors write,

The practicality of a space elevator is limited by the strength of existing materials. However, the tension in the tether for a stratospheric elevator is less than the yield strength of existing materials, for example, Kevlar. We conducted a preliminary analysis (summarized in table 2) of systems utilizing a lighter-than-air platform to support a pipe, sometimes called a floating platform (Intellectual Ventures 2009, Blackstock et al 2009); see section 8.3 of the supplementary data (available at

It is important to note that these systems are purely theoretical and are at or beyond the limits of today’s materials and technologies. Analysis was conducted to determine approximate costs for comparison purposes, but uncertainties are very large and true development costs are extremely difficult to predict. Deploying these systems may require significant advancements in fluid mechanics, aerodynamics and material science.

All in all, we must remember that this study is only designed to effectively estimate the cost of dispersing aerosols into the atmosphere, not the reasons for doing so and certainly not the inherent dangers that necessarily go hand in hand with it. Still, the conclusions in regards to cost are astonishing to say the least.

This is because the money that would be required to inject 1Mt (Metric Tonne) into the stratosphere is not much larger than that required to implement a typical large scale engineering project. Furthermore, the cost of the program would be akin to that of the operational costs of a small airline.

The study also states that the costs associated with stratospheric aerosol dispersal using existing airplanes would actually be much smaller than that of larger airlines like FedEx or Southwest.

Thus, the conclusion states:

Delivery of material required for stratospheric solar radiation management appears to be feasible from an engineering standpoint. Costs are comparable to other large engineering projects or aerospace flight operations (see table 1, figure 1 and section 5 of the supplementary data available at

. . . . .

Airplane geoengineering operations would be comparable to the yearly operations of a small airline, and are dwarfed by the operations of a large airline like FedEx or Southwest (supplementary data section 3.3 and supplementary data table 2).

Lastly, the report states,

To put these cost in perspective, the costs of climate damages or of emission mitigation are commonly estimated to be 0.2–2.5% of 2030 global GDP (Barker et al 2007) equivalent to roughly $200B to $2000B per year. Our estimates of the cost of delivering mass to the stratosphere—likely to be the most substantial part of the cost of SRM deployment—are less than 1% of this figure.

In the end, it is almost unbelievable how anyone is able to continue to deny the existence of geoengineering projects such as aerosol dispersal and/or chemtrails any longer. Without the aid of clear cognitive dissonance, such denial would be virtually impossible absent total ignorance.

Still, the mainstream media, government outlets, and academia will undoubtedly continue to label any discussion of these programs as fringe “conspiracy theories,” even as they promote the further expansion of the science.

Regardless of the reaction given by the perpetrators or by the uninformed, studies such as the one detailed in this article only add more evidence to the mounting heap of previous other documents and admissions relating to geoengineering projects the world over. It is for this reason that, as the geoengineers continue to step up their programs of reforming the environment of the planet, those of us who are aware of the overarching agenda must step up our own efforts to awaken the masses to these programs and subsequently demand that they be ended immediately.

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