Billionaire Bill Gates is financially backing the development of Sun-dimming technology, which would potentially reflect sunlight out of Earth’s atmosphere and have a global cooling effect, Forbes reported.
According to Harvard University researchers, the idea is to spray particles into the stratosphere, which would cool the planet by reflecting some of the sun’s rays back into space. This process has already been witnessed in 1991 when Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines. It ejected an estimated 20 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere, stretching the atmospheric layer from 10 to 50 kilometres above Earth’s surface. The haze of sulphate particles cooled the planet by around 0.5 °C, and that lasted for about 18 months.
The scientists aim to spray non-toxic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dust into the atmosphere. However, some opponents believe such experiments could come with unpredictable risks, including extreme shifts in weather patterns.
Climate change has been a hot topic for the last few years, with global temperatures continually rising. According to NOAA Climate.gov, 2019 was the second warmest year on the record, with temperatures averaging 1.15 °C above the industrial average.
According to scientists, the only way to prevent severe impacts of global warming will be to either suck massive amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere or to cool the planet artificially.
The Harvard team will be the first in the world to move solar bioengineering out of the lab and into the stratosphere. The project is called the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment ( SCoPEx).
If small particles are injected into the stratosphere, they could stay aloft for two or more years. It is estimated to cost around $1 billion to $10 billion per year.
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