Bill Gates backs plan to tackle climate change by blocking out the sun

Rob Waugh
Contributor
The researchers hope to release chemicals from planes 12 miles up (Getty)

It sounds like a wacky idea out of science-fiction - but it’s funded in part by billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates and backed by top scientists at Harvard University.

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

A test of the technology has been proposed for this year, the Daily Mail reports, with the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) seeing a bag of carbonate dust released into the atmosphere 12 miles up.

If that experiment proves successful, the researchers will move on to releasing the dust from planes.

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.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Harvard researchers have claimed that, if it were launched this year, it would cost about $3.5 billion (£2.74 billion), plus $2.25 billion (£1.76 billion) per year.

The scientists said last year: ‘Dozens of countries would have both the expertise and the money to launch such a program.

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

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But others have suggested that when the SRM was withdrawn, it could lead to rapid global warming in a phenomenon known as ‘termination shock’.

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