What if releasing particles into the atmosphere may aid in the mitigation of climate change? A company claims to have started doing the same with its weather balloons. This is known as geoengineering, and it is a method of manipulating the climate by reflecting more sunlight into space. According to MIT Tech Review, this is similar to what happens naturally following volcanic explosions.
Such substances are not theoretically challenging to discharge into the stratosphere. However, scientists have mainly (though not fully) avoided doing even small-scale outside research. And it’s unclear whether anyone has yet injected materials into that exact layer of the atmosphere as part of geoengineering studies. This is due in part to the fact that it is very contentious. Little is known about the real-world impact of such large-scale, purposeful operations, although they might have hazardous side effects. The effects might also be more severe in some locations than others, perhaps sparking geopolitical strife.
Spraying sulfur could, in theory, ease global warming. But scientists have remained wary of trying it out on a large scale, for it might have dangerous side effects. But a company called Make Sunsets recently launched some balloons from its site in Mexico. The company also wants to sell “cooling credits” for future balloon flights that would be able to carry larger payloads. In the future, Make Sunsets intends to increase sulfur payloads, add sensors, switch to reusable balloons, and publish data after launches.
Some long-term researchers are deeply concerned that the firm, Make Sunsets, appears to have proceeded with launches from a facility in Mexico without any public involvement or scientific examination. It is already seeking to offer “cooling credits” for future balloon flights with greater payloads.
Several researchers contacted by MIT Technology Review criticize the initiative to market geoengineering at this early level. According to several potential investors and consumers who have evaluated the company’s ideas, it is not a legitimate scientific effort or a credible firm but rather an attention grab meant to create controversy in the area.