US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon

By | July 19, 2012

US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon

Field experiment in solar geoengineering aims to ultimately create a technology to replicate the observed effects of volcanoes that spew sulphates into the stratosphere.

Experiment in New Mexico will try to establish the possibility of cooling the planet by dispersing sulphate aerosols

Two Harvard engineers are to spray sun-reflecting chemical particles into the atmosphere to artificially cool the planet, using a balloon flying 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

The field experiment in solar geoengineering aims to ultimately create a technology to replicate the observed effects of volcanoes that spew sulphates into the stratosphere, using sulphate aerosols to bounce sunlight back to space and decrease the temperature of the Earth.

David Keith, one of the investigators, has argued that solar geoengineering could be an inexpensive method to slow down global warming, but other scientists warn that it could have unpredictable, disastrous consequences for the Earth’s weather systems and food supplies. Environmental groups fear that the push to make geoengineering a “plan B” for climate change will undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Keith, who manages a multimillion dollar geoengineering research fund provided by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, previously commissioned a study by a US aerospace company that made the case for the feasibility of large-scale deployment of solar geoengineering technologies.

His US experiment, conducted with American James Anderson, will take place within a year and involve the release of tens or hundreds of kilograms of particles to measure the impacts on ozone chemistry, and to test ways to make sulphate aerosols the appropriate size. Since it is impossible to simulate the complexity of the stratosphere in a laboratory, Keith says the experiment will provide an opportunity to improve models of how the ozone layer could be altered by much larger-scale sulphate spraying.

“The objective is not to alter the climate, but simply to probe the processes at a micro scale,” said Keith. “The direct risk is very small.”

While the experiment may not harm the climate, environmental groups say that the global environmental risks of solar geoengineering have been amply identified through modelling and the study of the impacts of sulphuric dust emitted by volcanoes.

“Impacts include the potential for further damage to the ozone layer, and disruption of rainfall, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions – potentially threatening the food supplies of billions of people,” said Pat Mooney, executive director of the Canadian-based technology watchdog ETC Group. “It will do nothing to decrease levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or halt ocean acidification. And solar geoengineering is likely to increase the risk of climate-related international conflict – given that the modelling to date shows it poses greater risks to the global south.”

A scientific study published last month concluded that solar radiation management could decrease rainfall by 15% in areas of North America and northern Eurasia and by more than 20% in central South America.

Last autumn, a British field test of a balloon-and-hosepipe device that would have pumped water into the sky generated controversy. The government-funded project – Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (Spice) – was cancelled after a row over patents and a public outcry by global NGOs, some of whom argued the project was a “Trojan horse” that would open the door to full-scale deployment of the technology.

Keith said he opposed Spice from the outset because it would not have improved knowledge of the risks or effectiveness of solar geoengineering, unlike his own experiment.

“I salute the British government for getting out and trying something,” he said. “But I wish they’d had a better process, because those opposed to any such experiments will see it as a victory and try to stop other experiments as well.” …

via US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon | Environment | guardian.co.uk.

2 thoughts on “US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon

  1. Fred Killer

    I find it ironic that so-called scientists who don’t believe in God, yet worship the known laws of physics just the same, try their hardest to replace the source of all knowledge that created the universe and create some sort of management strategy as if nature hasn’t got a clue and can’t function perfectly well on it’s own.

  2. llullaillacool

    they really need not one fukushima/chernobyl more but around twenty at the same time..that might help to get them sorted. Unfortunately, something like that will inevitably lead to a lot of pain and death of a lot of earthlings who have absolutely nothing to do with such bullshit. However, when they continue to do such bullshit they probably will kill a whole planetary ecosystem and so it really doesn’t matter whether it happens now (hopefully in my lifetime) or later -I just would like to see the end of Earth’s tortures. I studied physics and like to do it …but surely not to play around with stuff of which I definitely don’t know enough and the risks of making something (extremely) wrong is that incalculable not for me alone but a whole bunch of others too. I feel ashamed to ever got interested in science and seeing so much crap (meaning those brave physicists etc. being part of that bullshit) messing up with the planet. Fuc..

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