Bill Gates Funding Scheme To Prevent Global Warming By 'Dimming The Sun'
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Everyone’s favourite multi-billionaire, Bill Gates, is doing his bit to fight climate change by backing an ambitious proposal to ‘dim the sun’.
Now, bear with me on this, it’s not (quite) as out there as it first sounds.
The project - pioneered by some of the great minds at Harvard University - involves plans to lift tonnes of dust 12 miles above Earth's surface and sprinkle it around the stratosphere, to put it very, very simply.
It’s hoped that the 'dust' will create a huge ‘sunshade’ by reflecting some of our closest star’s energy back into space, mitigating the effects of global warming.
The initial 'sky-clouding' experiment is reputed to be costing around $3 million and is officially known as the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx).
It would use a high-altitude balloon to lift around 2kg of calcium carbonate dust, roughly the size of a bag of flour, - into the atmosphere above the New Mexico desert.
However, as you can imagine, it’s not quite as simple as all that. A number of concerns have been raised about the scheme, including fears that SCoPEx could trigger a disastrous series of chain reactions with the potential to culminate in both droughts and hurricanes - so that’s both ends of the extreme weather spectrum nicely covered.
Thankfully, this means testing is currently on hold while an advisory panel assesses all the potential risks. One of the Harvard team directors, Lizzie Burns, said: "Our idea is terrifying... But so is climate change."
According to nature.com, the project started life as a partnership between chemist James Anderson and physicist David Keith, with Gates becoming involved as a backer further down the line.
Speaking about climate change on his blog, Gates wrote: “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 for the experiment is to use a high-altitude balloon 'to lift an instrument package approximately 20 km into the atmosphere'.
Once in place, a very small amount of 'material' will be released. Initially this will just be ice to ensure it works properly, and it will then be replaced with calcium carbonate (chalk), which is nontoxic, so will pose no significant hazard to either people or the environment - which is good to know.
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