Advertisement

Scientists Working on Plan to Cool Earth by Blocking Sun

Giant Umbrella

Scientists are exploring a wild idea to stop our planet from overheating: sending umbrellas into space to block the Sun's warming ways.

And they're ready to put the idea to the test. As the New York Times reports, a team led by Asher Space Research Institute physics professor and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology director Yoram Rozen claims it's ready to build a prototype.

But there's one big problem: the shield has to stretch an area of roughly one million square miles, or about the size of Argentina.

Since that's far too big of a structure to launch into space on a single rocket, Rozen and his team are proposing a scheme in which a swarm of smaller shades are launched into space, where they'll work together.

"We can show the world, 'Look, there is a working solution, take it, increase it to the necessary size,'" Rozen told the NYT.

Casting Shade

The idea has technically been around for decades now. Instead of fully blocking out the Sun completely with a giant parasol, researchers have suggested we only need to block anywhere between one and two percent of our star's radiation to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Last year, a team of scientists from Harvard and the University of Utah explored the idea of placing dust at a "Lagrange point" between the Sun and the Earth to overcome climate change.

A different team suggested using an actual "umbrella" tethered to an asteroid to achieve the same effect.

However, a sunshade would only be one part of the solution as the Earth's atmosphere would still be trapping heat in the form of greenhouse gas emissions.

Not everybody is on board with the idea. Critics told the NYT that a sunshade would be incredibly cost-prohibitive and unrealistic, given the pace at which global warming is accelerating. That's not to mention the beating such a shade would have to be able to withstand while exposed in outer space.

Proponents, on the other hand, argue we should leave no stone unturned in coming up with solutions to climate change.

Rozen and his team are now looking to secure anywhere between $10 million and $20 million to build their prototype.

"We at the Technion are not going to save the planet," he told the NYT. "But we’re going to show that it can be done."

More on geoengineering: Climate Scientist Warns That Countries Are Going to Start Geoengineering the Earth