the Harvard experiment that seeks to develop a controversial way to reduce Earth's temperature


In the race to stop climate change, scientists explore all sorts of ideas, even those that look like science fiction.

One of them is the one proposed by a Harvard group that in 2019 plans to launch an experiment that they aspire to can be used to develop a technique that allows them decrease the amount of sunlight entering the Earth.

The concept is very simple: Create a shield of protective particles in the atmosphere that returns solar radiation back into space.

It would be like polarize the glass of a car or anointing sunscreen to go to the beach, but in the atmosphere.

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Taking the experiment to practice has many challenges and, for some risks that could make this technique worsen the problem of global warming.

In fact, it has a name, at least, disturbing: "Controlled stratospheric disturbance experience" the SCoPEx, as they call it in English.

Cement and tooth cream

The landExperts want to create a shield that protects the Earth from the sun's rays. Photo: GETTY via BBC.

SCoPEx is based on a branch of study known as gand engineering sto smell, which specializes in finding ways to block or divert sunlight which strikes our planet.

So far, experts have based their solar geoengineering investigations on computer simulations, but SCoPEx wants to get data on the real world.

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For this, plan to launch a balloon that rises about 20 miles high with a load of calcium carbonate, a very common mineral powder that is used in products like cement, toothpastes, cake mixes or pills to calm indigestion.

When the balloon is in place, it will spread dust into the atmosphere to create a "disturbed air mass" that would be about one kilometer long, according to explain the Harvard scientists.

Earth and SunSolar geoengineering is an area that is hardly developing. Photograph: GETTY via BBC.

This experiment will allow you to observe changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere and how it affects the scattering of light.

SCoPex researchers warn that the scope of their experiment is rather modest. That is, they are not yet in the stage of developing a solar geoengineering technique, simply They are at an exploratory stage to better understand how particles behave in the air.

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In any case, the concept of SCoPEx could in the future, airplanes are used that spread small particles in the stratosphere that serve to reflect the rays of the sun.

According to an article published in the journal Nature, some estimates indicate that this technique can be reduced by 1.5° C.

small airplaneIn the future, there may be airplanes that disperse particles that create a protective film for Earth. Photograph: GETTY via BBC.


Within the community too there is prevention about the effectiveness and convenience of solar geoengineering.

"Overshadowing the planet keeps it colder, which helps crops to grow better. But plants also need sunlight to grow, so blocking sunlight can affect their growth, "said Jonathan Proctor, a researcher at the Department of Agriculture at the University of California, Berkeley, in a recent study.

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"For agriculture, the undesirable impacts of solar geoengineering are equal in magnitude for the benefits. "

Another risk is that rain patterns can be changed, which would cause more droughts in some regions.

contaminationFor some experts, the real solution lies in the reduction of greenhouse gases. Photograph: GETTY via BBC.

But for some experts, the biggest risk is that solar geoengineering divert attention of the real problem.

"Geoengineering in general is still at an early stage of development and It should never be considered as a reasonable alternative to decarbonize our energy systems. and our economy, "said Harry McCaughey, a professor of climatology at Queen's University in Canada, to BBC World.

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"The real challenge is to move forward with the Paris Accord and bring the world to a more sustainable place with regard to the imminent need to lower levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. "

environment"The way to combat climate change is mitigation," says Robock. Photograph: GETTY via BBC.

Likewise, thinks Alan Robock, a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University.

"The way to combat climate change is mitigation"Robock tells BBC World. Stop using the atmosphere as a sewer for our greenhouse gas emissions. "

"If geoengineering is achieved in the future, it will be at most one tourniquet and will only be useful if it is used for a short time to reduce the major impacts of climate change, while we strive to stop emissions and eliminate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, "he said. Robock


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