Harvard Halts Plans for Controversial Geoengineering Experiment

Harvard Halts Plans for Controversial Geoengineering Experiment

Solar geoengineering is a highly controversial concept for combating climate change. The idea is to block some of the Sun’s energy from reaching the Earth’s surface by reflecting it back into space with tiny particles from the stratosphere. However, experts are still not entirely sure about the risks involved, how well it will work – or if it works at all. In addition, it has scientists concerned.

A project led by Harvard University, called the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCEPEX), was planning to release higher air balloons into the sky to release smaller particles to test the theory. However, the team decided to suspend all plans to close the project later this year, the MIT Technology Review reported. An advisory committee at Harvard recommended that the SCEPOEX team plan to delay the release of balloons over Sweden this summer, and the team forced to ob.

The committee suggested that the researchers test some basic tools and reach out to everyone in Sweden. “An important discussion should be held between the scientific community as well as other stakeholders and the general public on whether research should be done on geoengineering,” an official statement from the Swedish Space Corporation said. 

The committee is now working with the Swedish people to get their feedback on the controversial project. In a statement, citing MIT, Chief Investigator Frank Ketch said:

“From this view it is clear that there is a broad partnership commitment to research that could help prevent climate change from escalating,” the advisory committee wrote in a statement. “It’s even clearer that there is a lack of connivance about research related to geoengineering.” This means that the project will probably not launch until 2022. According to MIT, the researchers are also open to flying the first aircraft to other parts of Sweden. 

The news comes after the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) last week recommended spending $100 million to $200 million over five years to study the feasibility of solar geoengineering. “Preliminary modeling work indicates that this approach has the potential to reduce some near-term risks of climate change,” the report summarizes. 

Experts divided over whether we should study the controversial process. “More research on solar geoengineering is needed in light of the urgency of the climate crisis,” NASA president Marcia McNutt told the Guardian. “But with advances in areas such as artificial intelligence or gene editing, not only can we make science public, but we also need to ask?”