African monsoon, p.1
African Monsoon, p.1Les W Kuzyk
by Les W Kuzyk
Copyright 2016 Les W Kuzyk
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Brad heard the wakeup tone, and blinked his tired eyes open to the dull roar of jet engines. Glancing over at the Nigerien pilot, he turned his attention to fellow engineer Vince in the HoloCube. Tomorrow remained distant.
“You pass into international air space in ten minutes.” Vince spoke from the Niamey office.
“Copy that,” Brad said, glancing at the icons on the flight screen map. No more national sovereignty ahead—their airspace would match jurisdiction of the high seas below. “Both carrier fleets are holding course in the direction of our dispersal point.”
“They gonna force you down?” Vince asked.
“The British base on Ascension maybe,” Brad said. “Better forced than shot down.”
The American strike fleet upholding North Atlantic naval security sent a carrier task force south towards equatorial waters. The Asian Alliance carrier fleet rounded the Africa cape from the Indian Ocean to the South Atlantic two days ago. Behind the Chinese carrier, the Alliance doubled their naval presence in the west Indian Ocean.
“They’d never go that far, right?” Vince said.
Amidst all this, Brad’s demeanour remained calm, too calm he knew. After weeks in the Nigerien drone zone, he felt indifferent at times. Like a seasoned tour-of-duty vet, in firefight after drone strike untouched, believing he’d never be taken out. That was crap. Reality dragged him back to the facts—he’d only ever taken on civilian engineering for the Seattle air force base. Before this combat zone contract.
“A military commander will be talking to a high end politician in a war room on that,” Brad said. “Our Chirpfeed broadcast could make all the difference.”
He could still feel the hot African dust in his teeth that time they tumbled out and raced from their Nissan. With surface drone detector blaring, they ducked around the wall just as their SUV blasted into a missile smoke hole. His false courage built on that. He stood to volunteer for this flight caught between rational thought and feeling invincible. That belief did help ignore any drone likely tracking this flight as far as the coast. Whose drones on the African continent, they’d never been sure.
“Tamanna’s standing by in London,” Vince said.
Brad would coordinate Chirpfeed transmission from the plane, while the British climate scientist and Canadian chemical engineer explained the stratospheric aerosol effect. Or parasol effect, whatever word better built a voice badly needing attention. The standoff could come to a head when the carriers passed within strike distance, and that would happen this flight. Escalation then depended on captains’ initial launch commands.
The flight screen showed their unarmed jet leaving the African coast. Over the open ocean of the mid-Atlantic, outside any territorial waters the laws of the high seas prevailed—what had once been pirate waters little changed to this day. Less than four hours remained in the flight time to release target half way between the equator and Ascension Island.
“We transmit in thirty minutes,” Brad said.
“Anyone with Chirpfeed can resend,” Vince said. “We’ve got quite a few feed links connecting, Brad.”
“Yeah copy,” Brad said. “That...” He took a deep breath. Shooting down an unarmed plane in international airspace would scream political—they had to play on that.
Brad had taken that first flight from Niamey to supervise sulphur dispersal over the mid-Atlantic, and then on to Rio je Janeiro. A long uncommon flight path, but international airport to airport at least. The Brazilian aeronautical company, designer of the business jet to liquid dispersal modification had required a manufacturer’s check. Vince supervised the second dispersal and Brad the third, but the mid-ocean turnaround then glared abnormal. Return flights from mid-ocean to central Africa were detected as anomalous blips by both Chinese and American military satellites.
The American carrier task force and the Alliance fleet protecting a Chinese carrier both changed course the same day, less than a week ago.
He leaned back, resting in the redesigned co-pilot seat—the cockpit had been repurposed in Brazil for a load release operator. Business seats and cocktail bar removed, the fuselage had been converted to maximize storage of his liquid sulphur dioxide load. Though an aeronautical engineer, his predilection for heights ended with rock climbing and flying paragliders. All co-pilot controls had been removed anyway.
On top of his invincible rationale turmoil, he flew for God and country. As an American, yet as a father too he took this fifth flight for his kids back home. Especially after this contract he knew too much about the looming crisis not to act. The British citizen and the engineer from the tar sands province, also father of young children, would join via HoloCube. Their international representation was a calculated risk, most on Chirpfeed not knowing the other two sat across a virtual interview table.
Could invincible be what it felt like for those driven by delusional religious belief? He could only guess. Here, they wanted but to provide a deterrent presence, nothing impractical, only with a high risk level. Old school thinking worked away out there at maintaining military control, with a drive to secure national interests at all costs. Those strategizing an alternate future wanted peace too, but with transition to a climate change solution.
Brad knew their global cooling design to be imperfect, and the old school outlook would pounce on that. The monsoon experiment would be tipped by any natural volcanic eruption. Solar radiation management accomplished nothing to mitigate ocean acidification—algae blooms continued replacing nature’s marine wonders. Any regional change like this Green Sahara effort could throw a loop into any global initiative. Better to have a calmer more reliable method, something organic like extensive biochar, or the seaweed forest alternative. But when did people ever make the best choice? With this atmospheric chemical venture on the go, they could sure use some calculated global negotiating.
The two countries either side of Niger east and west had joined in on synchronized sulphur balloon releases. Weeks ago one backup option had been Niger’s extra release capacity, and as the centrally located country potentially the only balloon release point. Niger’s solitary discharge technically worked, knowing stratospheric sulphur would spread east and west across the Sahara on its way towards the Mediterranean. As it turned out, the Sahel countries had not only common mid-desert geography like Niger, but strong political interests in a Green Sahara.
Lifting one eyelid, he glanced at the time digits floating in the cube. Fifteen minutes to go.
Days after their arrival in Niamey Brad took Vince up on that first balloon ride. The smaller test balloon had rocketed skyward spewing sulphur and helium, finally emptying two miles higher like a mini-volcanic eruption. But with both gases colorless, the eruption had been just as invisible as any green house gas. Brad had joked around with Vince about adding color to mark a true chemtrail, bringing truth to the conspiracy theory some imagined in any visible jet trail. That aside, being visible remained a primary climate change issue—would the world pay attention to this atmospheric drama?
Brad could picture the Niamey bridge lined with presidential campaign posters, a smiling face beside those stone giraffes. They’d been sent up to Agadez on the edge of the Sahara, where nocturnal releases lifted most sulphur by balloon. Their Harvard science million-to-one leveraging advantage spoke wonders—every ton of sulphur cooling offset a million tons of carbon warming. Other Green emblazoned balloons went up in the daytime close to Niamey fo
The Atlantic release option floated up in conversation with the British climate woman as an add-on when their project shifted to Phase III balloon release, the Sahel regional. Continental balloons were not enough. Officially for reference calculation only, yet even back then they tactically put together a plan to store liquid sulphur for the mid-Atlantic, roughly calculating to compensate for any loss to the ever present drones. According to the official stance at Phase II stage before, desert balloon-released tons cooled the Nigerien climate only. Ridiculous to think a political border contained atmosphere, though climate did have its own regional geography. That ever changing official outlook.
Brad had unofficially talked that time to Vince, with the Brit joining via HoloCube. Sitting around that paper map hanging on the Niamey meeting room wall, they had pointed at arrows sketched in over the ocean. Stratospheric drift over lower wind zones and ocean current directions defined weather patterns. There and then, they roughly engineered a significant cooling effect over the mid-Atlantic.
He told them right away ‘no way’ on balloons out over the ocean. Nor in global airspace. A little research told him best to use a small fleet of high flying modified business jets with dispersal technology. Next unofficial meeting he told them that. Business jets were not much higher tech than desert balloons, really, just extra susceptible to drone or fighter jet interference. Requests for proposal got them a Brazilian aeronautical design that beat out the Hindu quote with a shorter turnover time and identical quality.
Strategically, they would seasonally stop balloons to leave the Sahara summer sands hot and cool the summer Atlantic. They could keep the winter continental Sahel release going and introduce this into Phase III regional—that fit. Brad became aware that heat didn’t have influence so much as the temperature difference between the Sahara and the equatorial Atlantic to bring in more monsoon. Cooling one was the same as heating the other. Most effective to cool the ocean when the Sahara was naturally at its hottest, during summer.
Assuming engineering only, the British woman pointed out, released sulphur drifting south towards Antarctica would spread, but never east and west enough to influence southern Africa or South America. All effects would remain over the ocean. Minimal impact on anything else, still pretty regional. Easy to talk engineering assuming non-politicized engineering interests. Benefits and risks considered, the plan became official.
Of course the reality of politics rolled out dicier. How do you explain all this to the guys at the top? They knew even then if they went poking a sulphur release out over mid ocean many airspace interests would scream global. That assumption turned out totally correct, with military interests now poking back.
African Monsoon by Les W Kuzyk / Science Fiction have rating 3.3 out of 5 / Based on33 votes