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Solar shield, the controversial new solution to climate change | The World Weekly

An investigation into a controversial new approach to global warming will begin within weeks, in the world’s largest ever geoengineering project.

Researchers at Harvard University will assess the possibility of imitating the effects of volcanic eruptions, simulating atmospheric cooling in an attempt to offset the warming of the earth caused by CO2 emissions.

They hope to complete two tests by 2022. The first will release water into the atmosphere, with the second releasing calcium carbonate particles, in an effort to cool the Earth by reflecting solar radiation. Future tests will potentially use aluminium oxide or diamonds.

Previously a fringe area of climate change research, geoengineering has attracted increasing attention in recent years, both positive and negative. Advocates stress that it should be viewed as a complement to rather than a substitute for large-scale emission reductions.

But major reservations remain. Kevin Trenberth, lead author on the UN’s intergovernmental panel for climate change, said “solar geoengineering is not the answer”. Geoengineering’s environmental consequences remain largely unknown, with critics concerned about the potential effects on weather and hydrological cycles. A 2013 Met Office study suggested that geoengineering could precipitate a massive drought across North Africa.

There is also concern that geoengineering will divert vital funds from climate mitigation efforts that have proved to be effective, such as solar and wind power. But the Harvard team suggests that a redirection of 1% of current climate mitigation funds will be sufficient. It reckons that covering the planet with a solar shield should cost just $10bn a year.

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