Scientists Plan To Fight Climate Change By Reducing The Amount Of Sunlight That Reaches The Earth’s Surface

By , in Sci/Tech on . Tagged width: , , ,

In the race to stop climate change, scientists explore all sorts of ideas, even those that look like science fiction. One of those bizarre methods to halt global warming is proposed by Harvard University scientists who in 2019 plans to launch an experiment that might reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth.

The concept is quite simple – to create a shield of protective particles in the atmosphere that will bounce solar radiation back into space. It would be like polarizing the glass of a car or spreading sunscreen before tanning. Putting the experiment, called SCoPEx, into practice has many challenges and, for some, this technique might instead accelerate global warming.

SCoPEx is based on a branch of study known as solar geoengineering, which specializes in finding ways to block or divert sunlight that reaches our planet. So far, experts have based their solar geoengineering research on computational simulations, but SCoPEx wants to get real-time data.

Scientists Plan To Fight Climate Change By Reducing The Amount Of Sunlight That Reaches The Earth’s Surface

To achieve real-time data, Harvard scientists plan to launch a balloon at about 20 km up into the atmosphere with a charge of calcium carbonate, a very common mineral powder used in products such as cement, toothpastes, and cake mixes, among others. Once the balloon is in place, it will spread the dust into the atmosphere to create a “shield” which would be about a kilometer long.

This experiment will allow the scientists to observe changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere and how it affects the sunlight. SCoPEx researchers warn that the goal of their experiment is quite small as they are not yet working on a solar geoengineering method, per se, as they only plan to explore the benefits of this method to fight climate change.

“Shading the planet keeps it cooler, which helps crops grow better. But plants also need sunlight to grow, so blocking sunlight can affect their growth,” Jonathan Proctor, a researcher in the Department of Agriculture at the University of California, Berkeley, explained in a recent study. For agriculture, the unintended impacts of solar geoengineering are equal in magnitude to the benefits,” he added.