A Friendly Billionaire Wants to Spray Your Atmosphere With “Reflective Particles” to Block Out the Sun
What's not to like?
Scientists say it would be a good idea to spray a fine mixture of materials such as sulfur dioxide, alumina, or calcium carbonate into our planet’s stratosphere to cool down our planet.
Scientists would then use sensors to measure the particles’ reflectivity, the degree to which they disperse or blend, and how they interact with other compounds in the atmosphere to see if their plan is working.
Some experts say that this is geoengineering taken to an entirely new level.
But wait a minute, what exactly IS Geoengineering?
Spraying particles in the sky
As explained by Business Insider, “the term geoengineering refers to the use of technology to modify the planet’s atmosphere, and it comes in two forms: removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and more controversial technologies (as in the scenario above) that modify the skies to cool the world temporarily.”
But according to scientists, it is something we need to consider doing. Scientists from Harvard University plan to launch aerosol injections into our planet’s stratosphere at an approximate altitude of 20 kilometers to study the pros and cons of deliberately altering Earth’s climate in a bid to stop the progression of Global Warming.
“Even if we were to stop all emissions today, there is enough carbon in the atmosphere that it would cause climate change for hundreds of years to come.”Janos Pasztor, executive director of the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative
The project is dubbed as the largest geoengineering program in the history of Earth.
Bill Gates and other foundations fund the project, which would cost around $20 Million.
As explained by the MIT Technology Review, “After initial engineering tests, the ‘StratoCruiser’ would spray a fine mist of materials such as sulfur dioxide, alumina, or calcium carbonate into the stratosphere. The sensors would then measure the reflectivity of the particles, the degree to which they disperse or coalesce, and the way they interact with other compounds in the atmosphere.”
The mission is simple; release clouds of miniature particles into our atmosphere. These particles will create a cloud barrier that will reflect sunlight into space, avoiding the heat being absorbed by Earth, making our planet cool down.
Meet Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program
At the moment, everything researchers are doing is in a lab, running experiments on chemicals to understand how these may behave in Earth’s atmosphere.
They use this data to run computer simulations and predict how chemical clouds might cool the planet.
But, scientists could soon start testing chemicals in real life. They plan to launch a balloon into our atmosphere and observe how particle clouds behave.
The best part is that, according to experts, there’s no risk for humans.
“This is an extremely small-level experiment,” said Lizzie Burns, the program director of Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Program. “From a physical risk standpoint, it’s zero; the risk regarding ecosystem harm is zero.”
However, not everyone agrees.
“I’ve got a list of 27 reasons we shouldn’t do it,” Alan Robock, an environmental science professor at Rutgers and geoengineering expert, said.
Experts argue that Geoengineering could trigger more intense hurricanes posing a threat to coastal cities around the globe. Furthermore, scientists warn that droughts could devastate the Sahel region of Africa, triggered by geoengineering projects.
However, the worst part is probably the risk of using geoengineering as a weapon. Solar Geoengineering is so controversial that some experts think it could lead to global war.