Angus Ferraro

A tiny soapbox for a climate researcher.

My PhD: What happens if we use new ways to stop warming?


Yesterday I attempted to use the Up-Goer Five text editor to summarise what I do. It only allows you to use the thousand most common words in the English language. This restriction often contorts language in odd ways. I struggled because my description really does rely on using certain technical words. Specifically, ‘greenhouse gases’ and ‘aerosols’. I discovered that one can enclose technical words in quotation marks to force the editor to allow them, but that seems a bit like cheating.

In one sense, it doesn’t matter what one calls things. The weakest part of my attempt (below) is the confusing use of ‘stuff’ (which causes warming) and ‘other stuff’ (which causes cooling). I suppose I should have just written stuff A and stuff B. Unfortunately ‘warming stuff’ wasn’t allowed.

We make the air and the ground warmer by burning stuff which goes into the air. This stuff stops the air cooling a bit . It also changes winds and rain. Making the air warmer and changing winds causes problems because we are used to things being as they are. There are things to do to stop warming but we are not good at doing them. A new idea to stop warming is to put other stuff high in the sky. It might make it less warm but not in all places. Also, the winds and rain might still change and so even if we put the other stuff in the sky we still have to deal with changes. This is a problem. I want to know how the changes from burning stuff are different from the changes we get when we put the other stuff in the air to stop the warming. I also want to know whether different types of stuff (which also stop warming) change the winds and rain less. This will help us decide if we want to put other stuff up there to stop warming.

(If this slightly muddled introduction has piqued your interest, click around the blog for more information or visit my website.)

I realised how simple the idea is. The details are hideously (and perhaps prohibitively) complex, but the basics are all there. Writing this summary was a good exercise. In real life I might not be so restricted in vocabulary, but there are times when I am restricted by time and the interest and knowledge level of the person listening to me. Writing something like this is part of the all-important training to clearly put out the required information.


Author: Angus Ferraro

Trainee secondary physics teacher and former climate research scientist.

2 thoughts on “My PhD: What happens if we use new ways to stop warming?

  1. Okay, this is fun. Here is my try with the up-goer. Warm times are good, cold times are bad. This is how it’s been for ages. But now some guys have suddenly decided its the other way round. Why? Maybe they want more money for their work. Maybe they want to scare people. Maybe they want to change our way of life. Some even want to put stuff in the air to make it colder! It is very cold here today. Let’s hope they don’t get their way. Now it has stopped warming for 15 years, so people are getting the idea that the warming scare is not true. We have been lied to.

  2. To my knowledge none of your reasons for ‘deciding’ that warming is bad are true. I don’t know any scientists who are motivated by money. Or scaring people.

    Part of the work on geoengineering explicitly recognise how dangerous it would be to suddenly cool the climate. Abrupt change is more damaging than gradual change and that applies whether it’s warming or cooling.

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