Most of us recognize that climate change is a serious problem. That also includes Bill Gates, and he is using some of his fortunes to prevent climate change in a unique way. Basically, he wants to lift tons of dust 12 miles above the surface of the earth and scatter it through the stratosphere.
The 63-year-old Microsoft founder is supporting the project, but scientists at Harvard University are also involved.
The dust will create a worldwide sunshade and reflect some of the rays and heat back out into space. In essence, they will be turning down the sun by diminishing the effects of sunlight. It is their hope that it will protect the earth from further damage due to global warming.
MailOnline reported that the ‘sky-clouding’ experiments were already in a position to begin months ago.
The initial test is known as the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) and comes in at a price tag of around $3 million. A high-altitude scientific balloon would carry 2 kg of calcium carbonate dust high into the atmosphere above the New Mexico desert. It is a small-scale test, as the dust is only about the size of a bag of sugar.
Some people fear that SCoPEx could lead to chain reactions that would be catastrophic. This could include massive hurricanes or severe droughts. That is why things are on hold for now.
The potential risks are being assessed by an advisory council. Lizzie Burns, one of the directors of the Harvard team also admits: “Our idea is terrifying… But so is climate change.”
The project started out as a collaboration between chemist James Anderson and physicist David Keith, both of which are from Harvard. Gates is now funding the project. Climate change has always been of interest to Bill Gates and he has spoken openly about it.
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.”
The Harvard University website also says that the plan is for a high-altitude balloon to lift an ‘instrument package approximately 20 km into the atmosphere’.
After the balloon is in place, the material inside of it will be released. In the initial test, a very small amount of this mysterious ‘material’ will be used. Incidentally, they plan on using ice at first to ensure that it works properly. Calcium carbonate, a common mineral, will then replace the ice.
Don’t worry, the website says that the test will pose ‘no significant hazard to people or the environment’. They also bring out that calcium carbonate is commonly found in nature and is non-toxic.
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