Harvard scientists have suspended a geoengineering research project in Sweden
The purpose of this initial flight was to evaluate the equipment and software of the propelled balloon in the stratosphere. In subsequent launches, researchers hope to release small numbers of particles to better understand the dangers and potential of solar geoengineering, the controversial concept of spraying sulfates, calcium carbonate or other compounds above the Earth to disperse sunlight and mitigate global warming. These would mark the first experiments related to geoengineering in the stratosphere.
But the commission has determined that researchers should also conduct pre-equipment tests before discussing them with the public in Sweden. Harvard climate scientist and research team member David Keith said they will follow the recommendations.
It is likely that the decision will be pushed forward to 2022 and delay one project further initially planned Starting in 2018. The initial flight also opens up the possibility of doing it elsewhere; the researchers selected the Kiruna Esrange Space Center in Sweden because, among other things, the Swedish Space Corporation could adapt its launch this year.
Harvard set up an advisory committee To review the experiments proposed in 2019 and ensure that researchers take appropriate measures to limit risks, seek external input, and operate in a transparent manner.
In a statement, the commission said it has begun the process of finding organizations in Sweden to engage specialists in public engagement and conduct interviews.
“This commitment would help the committee to understand the views of Sweden and Indigenous people and provide an informed and sensitive recommendation about testing equipment in Sweden in terms of flights,” the committee said. “The commitment made in Sweden would contribute to the committee’s deliberations on particle release flights and will support the growing research and practice on public governance of geosciences research.”
In recent weeks, several environmental groups and geoengineering critics have called on Swedish government officials and the heads of the Swedish Space Corporation, which will manage the flights, to stop the project.
Solar geoengineering is “a technology that can have extreme consequences, and is dangerous, unpredictable and unmanageable,” Greenpeace Sweden, Biofuelwatch and other organizations said in a letter. “It’s not justified to ever try and experiment with technology that is too dangerous to use.”
In February, the MIT Technology Review has published a publication To study what Harvard researchers expect to learn from experiments.
“My vision is very intense, I hope we never get to do that because I still think it’s a very scary concept and something is going to go wrong,” Frank Keutsch said of the research project, the publication said.
“But at the same time, I think it’s very important to better understand what the risks might be,” he added. “And I think the most interesting research I have is that there is a kind of material that can be significantly reduced [climate change] risks, I think we should know about this. “