You may have heard the news that Bill Gates is partially funding an initiative to fight climate change in which scientists are attempting to “block the sun”. While this is true, in part, a Harvard advisory committee is requesting a slow-down of the project to ensure that it is ethical. Here’s what you need to know. (1)
Bill Gates-Backed Project To Block The Sun
This project to ‘block the sun’ is actually an initiative to combat global warming. The idea is to put a certain type of particles high up in the atmosphere to reflect UV rays rather than make their way to Earth. This sun-dimming technology development is known as The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), launched by Harvard Scientists. (1)
So how is Bill Gates involved, exactly? The tech billionaire created a grant-making research fund in 2007 called the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research (FICER). SCoPEx is funded partially by FICER and partially by Harvard’s Solar Engineering Program. (2)
How Does It Work, Exactly?
The idea is to spray calcium carbonate into the atmosphere. This sun-reflecting particle can reflect UV rays towards outer space rather than staying and warming our planet. It is also known as solar geoengineering. The particles do not block the sun out entirely, more so they blot out or filter the rays to help keep the planet a little bit cooler. (2)
Why The Controversy?
There are a couple of reasons why this technology is controversial. The first is the simple fact that we have no real way of knowing the full and long-term consequences of this type of solution. Essentially, we don’t fully understand the risks. (1)
Other controversy surrounds Bill Gates himself and many other conspiracy theories. There are those that think Gates is trying to block out the sun and pump toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, and effectively destroy life as we know it (which is false). Really, this boils down to over-sensationalization in the media and a lack of general understanding of the project. (2)
Why Have They Slowed Down The Project?
They were supposed to begin the project in 2022; however, the Harvard advisory committee wants the scientists to take more time. They are concerned about ethical issues and want to take more time to consider the domino effects of this technology. (1) So no, Bill Gates is not trying to block out the sun. The project is only in the experimental phase and will not change our climate any time soon, if ever.
- “Is Bill Gates Funding Efforts To Block The Sun?” Snopes. Alex Kasprak. January 5, 2021.
- “Fact Check: Is Bill Gates Trying to Block the Sun?” News Week. Jason Murdock. March 2, 2021.
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