As the planet warms faster, scientists study controversial ways to lower temperature: The Boston Globe
As the planet continues to warm at an accelerating rate, scientists are looking into a potential insurance policy, a radical way of curbing climate change by altering the climate system itself.
A team at Harvard University this summer plans to conduct the first of a series of highly controversial tests of what’s known as solar geoengineering, a way to reduce global warming by spreading particles in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space.
If an advisory board authorizes them to proceed, the scientists plan to travel in June to a remote part of northern Sweden, where they’ll launch a giant balloon into the stratosphere to test whether they can adequately maneuver an instrument-filled gondola suspended below. If all goes well, the team later this year plans for the first time to inject a small amount of calcium carbonate — a common substance found in rocks — into the atmosphere to better understand how the chemical compound might be used to moderate temperatures on the ground.
Long considered too risky, solar geoengineering is now being more seriously considered as the threat of climate change grows more dire. But critics say such a test, which would spread a few pounds of the particles about 12 miles above ground, would set a dangerous precedent and open a door to more radical experiments that could ultimately cause grave harm to the planet.
“Solar geoengineering has potentially huge benefits to humanity, especially the most vulnerable,” said David Keith, a professor of public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and one of the leaders of the project. “No one doubts that it’s possible to cool the atmosphere with aerosols.”