‘Solar geoengineering’ technology to cool planet ‘could spark conflict’, experts warn

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'Geoengineering' involves spraying chemicals into the atmosphere to cool down Earth (Stock image; Getty)

Climate ‘geoengineering’ technologies, where particles are sprayed into the stratosphere to deflect more sunlight away from a heating Earth, could spark conflicts, experts have warned. 

Without coordinated policies on ‘geoengineering’, the world “risks more contestation and conflict without any mechanism for addressing that at the international level,” Erin Sikorsky, deputy director of the Washington-based Center for Climate and Security told Reuters.

She said that “solar geoengineering” was a particular worry, in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation

She said, “When we ask security professionals what they’re worried about, this issue is coming up more and more. 

“The concern is that the science is moving ahead of the rules of the road.”

Read more: Why economists worry that reversing climate change is hopeless

Experts from the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), called for faster action to deal with climate change in a report published on Monday. 

The report warned, “The increasing pace and intensity of climate hazards will strain military and security services around the world as they are called on to respond to climate-driven crises.”

The idea of ‘solar geoengineering’ or solar radiation management (SRM) is controversial, mimicking the world-chilling effects of huge volcanic eruptions. 

Some scientists have suggested that such technology could be used as a ‘stop gap’ to reduce temperatures while measures to limit CO2 emissions are put in place. 

But others have suggested that when the SRM was withdrawn, it could lead to rapid global warming in a phenomenon known as ‘termination shock’. 

Read more: Melting snow in Himalayas drives growth of green sea slime visible from space

One project investigating the idea by billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates and top scientists from Harvard. 

The researchers believe that a fleet of specially designed aircraft could spray particles into the lower stratosphere to cool down our planet and offset the effects of climate change. 

The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) will see carbonate dust released into the atmosphere.

Read more: A 1988 warning about climate change was mostly right

The researchers suggest that jets flying 12 miles up would complete over 60,000 missions in 15 years, starting with a fleet of eight and moving up to 100 planes. 

At present, there are no aircraft capable of doing this, so they would need to be developed. 

The researchers previously wrote, ‘Dozens of countries would have both the expertise and the money to launch such a program.

‘Around 50 countries have military budgets greater than $3 billion, with 30 greater than $6 billion.’

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