Geoengineering startup receives harsh criticism

Startup Make Sunsets says it started geoengineering on a small scale, with sulfate particles injected into the stratosphere to deflect the sun’s rays and reduce global warming from the sun. This has sparked new conversations about when and whether such interventions should be implemented to combat climate change.

Luke Iseman and Andrew Song, founders of Make Sunsets, say they have already completed two test flights to create small clouds with the particles. Make Sunsets is also selling $10 “legal credits” to support future missions into the atmosphere, with the goal of generating revenue and increasing the delivery of sun blocking particles via reusable balloons.

The company claims that one gram of released particles purchased through the credit will offset the warming effect of one ton of carbon over the course of a year. The manufactured “clouds” remain in the atmosphere between six months and three years, depending on the latitude at which they are released and the height at which they reach the atmosphere.

Iseman and Song kept their project relatively quiet until Saturday, when the MIT Technology Review published an article about their progress and, more critically, the ethical dimensions and scientific and geopolitical concerns surrounding their actions.

geoengineering not serious

Some experts see Make Sunsets as a dumb effort designed to stir up controversy over geoengineering, while others rattle off a litany of objections to deploying particle clouds without oversight or control and acting outside the global scientific community.

“The company’s behavior plays on long-standing fears that a ‘rogue’ actor with no specific knowledge of atmospheric science or the implications of the technology might unilaterally opt for climate geoengineering,” writes author James Temple, “without any kind of consensus on whether it’s OK to do this, or what the appropriate global mean temperature should be.

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“That’s because it’s relatively cheap and technically simple to make, at least in a rudimentary way,” he added.

However, scientists still don’t know what will happen if solar radiation management (SRM) techniques are implemented at scale. Experts like David Keith and his colleagues at Harvard University study solar and aerosol engineering, and Germany and the UK are among other Western nations where scientists are studying the techniques.

While the United States and other developed countries approve funding for the research, scientists in the Global South fear that solar geoengineering could have economic, environmental and health consequences for billions of people without the consensus of their leaders. Temple points out that it was from Mexico that Make Sunsets launched its tests, without any public engagement or scientific scrutiny.


The London-based DEGREES Initiative is an organization working to ensure equity and access to solar radiation management research for scientists in Kenya, Bangladesh, the Philippines and other countries concerned about how geoengineering could affect or worsen agriculture. the natural disasters.

But the Make Sunsets initiative doesn’t seem concerned about consensus, at least at this stage.

“Since the MIT Technology Review article came out, we’ve been surprised and amused by the responses,” the company posted on its Twitter account on Monday. “To the supporters and scientists who believe in us, thank you.”

By Lauren Fagan. Article in English

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