credit : pixabay
"You can't cover the sun with your fingers, but maybe science and technology can". (Bill Gates)
Bill Gates is surprisingly supporting a development of solar dimming technology by bouncing its rays out of the earth's atmosphere. The Microsoft founder hopes that the project, named SCoPEx, can tackle global warming. The name Indonesia was also discussed in this program. The SCoPEx project or Stratosphere Controlled Perturbation Experiment was launched by a number of scientists from Harvard University and received financial support from Bill Gates. The project is estimated to require funding of up to US $ 10 billion per year. This experimental project stalled briefly because it sparked controversy among the public and scientists. The controversy that arose was related to the idea of dimming the sun's rays.
This project, basically, is carried out to study the possibility of holding back the sun so as not to reach the surface of the earth through geoengineering technology (Earth engineering). In general, this earth engineering refers to technology that is able to change the physical quality of the earth on a very large scale. One example, seedlings of clouds by plane to produce rain.
How the sun dim project works.
The project works by spraying non-toxic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) (aerosol) dust into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight. Calcium carbonate itself is a compound that is widely found in rocks all over the world, and is the main component of the shells of marine organisms, such as snails, charcoal balls, pearls, and egg shells.
SCoPEx will take a small step in its initial research this June by launching a balloon carrying a number of scientific instruments as high as 20 kilometers near the Swedish city of Kiruna. This balloon launching does not aim to release aerosols into the stratosphere. Instead, the experiment will serve as a test for moving balloons and checking communication and operational systems. If this is successful, it could be a step towards a second experimental stage which will release small amounts of CaCO3 dust into the atmosphere.
It isn't yet known exactly how much CaCO3 is needed to cool the planet. Even the SCoPEx scientists could not be sure whether the stratospheric aerosol was the best particle to work on the project or not. However, early research showed that the substance had "near ideal optical properties" and allowed it to absorb far less radiation than sulfate aerosols. This resulted in significantly less heating of the stratosphere and was the goal of the project.
credit : pixabay
Project controversy dims the sun
But Geoengineering supporters have quoted the effect of global cooling from volcanic eruptions caused by the entry of sulfur abu into the atmosphere. One of them was the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 in Indonesia which resulted in "year without summer". While the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 in the Philippines which lowered the global average temperature of 0.5 degrees Celsius. Thus issuing similar particles intentionally can potentially fight greenhouse gas emissions for decades. Even a report by the inter-government panel related to climate change suggests Scopex procedures can reduce global temperatures up to 1.5 degrees Celsius full for no more than $ 1-10 billion a year.
Nevertheless, the project who received the support of Bill Gates was still in the spotlight of a number of parties. Because the decline in temperatures can bring serious risks. The frozen temperature that occurred in 1815 itself resulted in crop failure and caused hunger situations. British scientists have reportedly assessed that the aerosol of the stratosphere of volcanic eruptions in Alaska and Mexico are the potential causes of drought in the Sahel African region. Large disturbances in the global climate can indeed bring unwanted consequences, negative impact on solid-populated areas, and cause other refugee crises.
It's hard to say whether dimming the sun is a bright idea, which is why everyone involved, including Bill Gates, stressed the need to only research the process of filling the atmosphere with aerosol particulate matter rather than jumping climate guns and experimenting on a still developing civilization. If indeed the steps taken by countries, communities and companies do not slow the progress of climate change, geo-solar engineering may be our last hope.