(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) The Biden administration has proposed funding and outlining a five-year study into solar geoengineering, a science that pertains to deflecting the sun’s rays before they hit the earth.
According to the Guardian, one method the government is testing is sending a group of planes to spray reflective particles into the upper atmosphere. Ideally, this would block sunlight and keep surface temperatures from rising too high.
A White House spokesperson for the Office of Science and Technology Policy clarified that the basis for its recent proposal is “not new research, but a report that highlights some of the key knowledge gaps and recommendations of priority topics for relevant research.”
The spokesperson added the the Biden administration has been taking drastic measures to cut down on carbon-dioxide levels and greenhouse-gas emissions.
Critics argue that there are potential downsides to blocking the sun’s rays, including the negative impacts on photosynthesis for plants—and particularly those that are part of the food cycle.
David Victor, a political scientist at the University of California told the MIT Technology Review that it laid the stage for a devious plot worthy of a James Bond villain.
“A “Greenfinger, self-appointed protector of the planet … could force a lot of geoengineering on his own,” Victor said.
Despite the concerns, some American scientists consider reflecting sun rays to be a viable solution to climate change.
“Until recently, I thought it was too risky, but slow progress on cutting emissions has increased motivation to understand techniques at the margins like solar geoengineering,” said Chris Field, who chaired a National Academies of Sciences report last year that recommended at least $100m being spent researching the issue.
“I don’t think we should deploy it yet and there are still a ton of concerns, but we need to better understand it,” Field said. “Climate change is causing widespread impacts, it’s costing lives and wrecking economies.”
A U.S. startup known as Make Sunsets already ran two internal test flights of sulpher-injected balloons into the stratosphere, according to the Freedom First Network.
The group, which is backed by two large venture capital funds, is named after the deep red sunsets and “shiny clouds” that would “prevent catastrophic global warming” should their experiment work.
“Any human-caused release of carbon dioxide is geoengineering,” it argued on its website. “We screwed up the atmosphere, and now we have a moral obligation to fix things!”