Spraying chemicals into the sky to stop climate change is ‘technically possible’

Rob Waugh
Contributor
If we don’t act quickly, this could be our only option (Getty)

It sounds like a wacky idea out of science fiction – but a climate scientist has suggested that planes could spray sulfate particles into the sky to stop global warming.

The researchers believe that a fleet of specially designed aircraft could spray sulfate particles into the lower stratosphere – and doing so would be within the budgets of several nations.

The Harvard researchers say that (if it were launched this year), it would cost about $3.5 billion (£2.74 billion), according to Science Alert, plus $2.25 billion (£1.76 billion) per year.

The researchers say, ‘Dozens of countries would have both the expertise and the money to launch such a program.

‘Around 50 countries have military budgets greater than $3 billion, with 30 greater than $6 billion.’

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The researchers suggest that jets flying 12 miles up would complete over 60,000 missions in 15 years, starting with a fleet of eight and moving up to 100 planes.

At present, there are no aircraft capable of doing this, so they would need to be developed.

The idea of ‘solar geoengineering’ or solar radiation management (SRM) is controversial, mimicking the world-chilling effects of huge volcanic eruptions.

Some scientists have suggested that such technology could be used a ‘stop gap’ to reduce temperatures while measures to limit CO2 emissions are put in place.

But others have suggested that when the SRM was withdrawn, it could lead to rapid global warming in a phenomenon known as ‘termination shock’.

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