Sure, robot octopi may one day comb the ocean floor for signs of global warming, but then what? What robots will save us if we need to turn down the planetary thermostat a few degrees to avoid environmental catastrophe? Well, lucky for us, professors John Latham and Stephen Salter have thought up a solution. How does a fleet of about a thousand robotic, cloud seeding ships sound?
The idea behind this geoengineering (or planet hacking) scheme is that by reflecting a mere 3 percent more solar radiation, we could counter a great deal of the global warming brought on by increased carbon dioxide production [source: Latham]. To get that added reflectivity, you could blast giant mirrors into orbit, paint more roofs white or create more cloud cover, which serves as a natural solar radiation reflector.
Latham and Salter's plan calls for these automated vessels to constantly blast seawater up into the air to form low-level cloud cover. What's the downside? Well, scientists are unsure what impact such atmospheric tinkering could have on the planet's weather patterns -- to say nothing of the costs involved. Still, you can't doubt the green agenda of robots designed to protect melting polar icecaps.
Keep reading for more links to the future of green technology.
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- "Doom on wheels stalks slugs." BBC News. Nov. 2, 1999. (May 27, 2009)http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/503149.stm
- Gordon, Jacob. "Submarine Lumberjacks Harvest Underwater Forests." TreeHugger.com. Nov 30, 2006.http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/11/underwater_lumberjacks.php
- Graham-Rowe, Duncan. "Self-sustaining killer robot creates a stink." New Scientist. Sept. 9, 2004. (May 29, 2009)http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6366-selfsustaining-killer-robot-creates-a-stink.html
- Kelly, Ian et al. "SlugBot: a Robotic Predator in the Natural World." 2001. (May 27, 2009)http://www.cse.msu.edu/~mckinley/920/Spring-2007/owen-holland-slugbot.pdf
- Latham, John. "Futuristic fleet of 'cloudseeders'." BBC News. Feb. 15, 2007. (May 27, 2009)http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/6354759.stm
- Marks, Paul. "Robot octopus will go where no sub has gone before." New Scientist. March 21, 2009. (May 27, 2009)http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20127006.500-robot-octopus-will-go-where-no-sub-has-gone-before.html
- Simonite, Tom. "Plankton could power robotic submarines." New Scientist. Oct. 4, 2006.http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19125715.900-plankton-could-power-robotic-submarines.html
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