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The Enormous Risk of Atmospheric Hacking

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The Enormous Risk of Atmospheric Hacking

Photo caption: Sweden may soon be the site for a test of geoengineering technology. Photograph by Markus Thomenius / Alamy. Article by Bill McKibben. The New Yorker – February 18, 2021.

Sometime in the next two weeks, an independent advisory committee is expected to issue a recommendation on a request from a team of Harvard scientists to fly a balloon from Kiruna, in Sweden’s Lapland region. The team would test a flight platform that might someday be used to inject a sample of aerosols into the stratosphere. Though this initial request is only for a test of a flight platform, a successful run would likely mean more tests, with aerosols of calcium carbonate and sulfates. These particles could hack the planet’s climate, by reflecting some of the sun’s light back out to space before it can reach the ground. It’s an ominous moment in the planet’s history—and one we should back away from for now. […]

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