We're Going to Need a Longer Hose, Nathan

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Save the planet? Great, sign us up. But how many trips to Home Depot will be required to achieve Nathan Myhrvold's latest vision? Earlier this year, we related how the former Microsofter and his old boss, Bill Gates, had filed patents for a scheme to combat hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, to prevent future disasters like Katrina. Sounds crazy, but you've got to admire his weather-conquering spirit.

Now TechFlash is reporting Myhrvold's new idea to offset global warming, "Stratoshield," another gimmick patented by his underperforming IP fund Intellectual Ventures. The idea works something like this: Pump liquid sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere through nozzles in a hose lifted more than 15 miles into the atmosphere using helium-filled balloons.

Okay, this sounds like an excellent weekend project. Let's see what we'll need... 15 miles equals about 80,000 feet. The most popular length of garden hose at Home Depot is 50 feet, so we'll need 1,584 of those. Which, at $25 a reel, is only $40,000. That's chump change for Myhrvold, who surely has some MSFT stock left in his portfolio. Let's do it! You bring the hose, Nathan. But those helium-filled balloons can be dangerous, as we learned with that six-year-old kid in Colorado. But where do we get the liquid sulfur dioxide? Is it a federally controlled substance, the sort of thing that might get you on the Al Qaeda watch list? How bout I be the guy linking the hoses together? How long do you suppose that might take?

 
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