Controversial test flight aimed at cooling the planet canceled

The project has raised concerns among scientists and environmentalists

The project has raised concerns among scientists and environmentalists

U.S. and European scientists canceled a controversial balloon test flight that was to take place in the far north of Sweden in June, part of a controversial solar geoengineering experiment to artificially cool the planet.

A team of Harvard scientists planned to launch a high balloon from the Esrange space station in the Swedish city of Kiruna, to test whether it could in the future carry equipment to release solar radiation-reflecting particles into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The project was called SCoPEx, short for “Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment”.

Imitating the impact of volcanic eruptions, proponents of the project say the technology needs to be studied to see if it could become a method to combat global warming.

But the project, as well as geoengineering itself, has raised concerns among scientists and environmentalists who say the technology is dangerous and risky.

Critics fear that the injection of particles into the stratosphere could damage the ozone layer and disrupt ecosystems.

“The scientific community is divided on geoengineering,” the state-owned Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), which manages Esrange, said in a statement released on Wednesday.

After dialogues with experts, stakeholders and Harvard University, “SSC has decided not to do the technical test flight scheduled for this summer.”

A special committee set up by Harvard to study the social and ethical aspects of the project also called for postponing the test flight to review the implications for the indigenous Sami people of Sweden and Sweden in general.

The committee recommended “that social engagement take place in Sweden before any SCoPEx research is done in the country.”

“This is likely to delay the launch platform until 2022,” it said.


Simulations suggest that geoengineering would not stop global warming if greenhouse gases continued to rise


© 2021 AFP

Quote: Controversial test flight aimed at cooling the planet canceled (2021, April 1) taken on April 3, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-controversial-flight-aimed-cooling-planet. html

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