Bill Gates and other donors are backing the Solar Geoengineering Research Program from the researchers of Harvard University.

Bill Gates is now interested in dimming the light from the sun or reflect the sunlight away from the Earth’s surface. Together with other private donors, they are backing the Solar Geoengineering Research Program from the researchers of Harvard University.

This future research program will soon launch a study about the efficacy of blocking the sunlight to prevent it from reaching the planet, according to Interesting Engineering.

Solar engineering has been gaining attention recently with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) releasing a new report that encourages the US government to spend at least $ 100 million on solar geoengineering.

However, this controversial technology sounds dense and many scientists are expressing their concerns about it. So what does solar geoengineering do?

What is Solar Geoengineering?

Geoengineering alters the Earth’s physical qualities, such as cloud seeding that flush clouds with particulate matter to make them rain. Also, carbon capture is a geoengineering technique that takes carbon emissions and sequesters them beneath Earth’s surface.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, solar geoengineering could cool the Earth by reflecting sunlight into space, but that it also poses many risks, challenges, and uncertainties.

Scientists are researching solar geoengineering because although steps are taken to slow climate change, it might not be enough to limit global warming to the levels that could cause catastrophic consequences.

Since it has global implications, the consideration of using the technology as a climate response requires effective international governance that would be sustained for a very long time.

Today, studies on the risks linked to solar geoengineering are mostly conducted using computer-based modeling and natural observation.

But there have been proposals to expand the research in this technology that will include initiatives to conduct small-scale atmospheric experiments in the US and the Great Barrier Reef.

Now, Bill Gates and other private donors are supporting scientists from Harvard in their solar geoengineering research program that will reflect the sunlight to space.

How SCoPEx Works

Humankind is facing the threat of climate change but doing a long-term solution to address it seems hard to accomplish. This is why scientists are pushing for a major investment in solar geoengineering.

This technology uses aerosols that have been a contributor to climate change, but experts said that a lack of information and consensus contributes to the failure of using this technology and that it must be corrected with new studies,

Harvard University researchers’ project named Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) aims to study solar geoengineering as a solution against climate change.

The researchers said that they plan to utilize a high-altitude balloon that would lift an instrument package at an estimated height of 20 km into the atmosphere, Popular Mechanics reported.

It will release around 100 g to 2 kg amount of material to create a perturbed air mass that is almost 1 km long and 100 meters in diameter. Then, the same balloon will be used to measure the resulting changes in the perturbed air mass, such as changes in the aerosol density, atmospheric chemistry, and the scattering of sunlight.

“[W]e plan to release calcium carbonate, a common mineral dust. We may also release other materials such as sulfates in response to evolving scientific interests,” the researchers said.

Originally published at Science Times