Supported and backed by Bill Gates, scientists at Harvard University is working on a ground breaking project to prevent climate change which will involve lifting tonnes of ‘dust’ 12 miles above Earth’s surface.
In simple terms, the idea is to create a giant ‘sunshade’ with the dust to reflect some heat and sun-rays back into space, dimming the sunlight and theoretically protecting Earth from global warming.
Experiments testing the ‘sky-clouding’ were set to take place months ago but were put on hold amid fears of it causing a series of disasters such as hurricanes and serious droughts.
The initial test is estimated at a cost of around $3 million and named Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), using a high altitude scientific balloon to raise 2kg of calcium carbonate dust into the atmosphere above the New Mexico desert.
An advisory panel is said to be assessing the potential risks and Lizzie Burns, one of the Harvard team’s directors, stated: “Our idea is terrifying… But so is climate change.”
The project began as a partnership between chemist James Anderson and physicist David Keith of Harvard and funded by Gates who seems passionate about finding solutions to climate change.
Gates wrote on his blog: “We must solve two challenges. The first challenge will come as no surprise. We need to do more to harness the power of the sun and wind. And thanks to falling prices for solar panels, wind turbines, and other technologies, deploying renewable energy systems is more affordable than ever before.”
According to Harvard University’s website, the plan is to use a high-altitude balloon ‘to lift an instrument package approximately 20 km into the atmosphere’.
A small amount of material (possibly ice) will be released to confirm it works and if so, replaced with a small amount of calcium carbonate, a common mineral dust which, according to the site pose no significant hazard to people or the environment.
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