The problem is so serious that any attempt to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions may be too late and too little. This is how a team based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came up with a radically new solution: bubbles… in space.
That’s right, bubbles in space.
The reflection revolves around two areas of concern. The first is that in trying to reduce or even eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the future, the damage we have already caused over more than a century of advanced industrialization has already shaped the climate trajectory. of the earth in the wrong direction.
It may be so severe that even if we were to completely stop all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow, we would still have to live with the severe impacts of climate change for decades and even centuries to come, including continued sea level rise, more extreme weather events, and disruptions in food producing regions.
Another way to solve the problem is to sequester or remove the carbon, or somehow limit the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface, for example by releasing aerosols into the atmosphere.
The MIT team argues this is generally a bad idea because our climate system is so complex and dynamic that introducing man-made factors into the atmosphere itself is irreversible.
That’s why they think about space. The idea is to develop a raft of fine bubble-shaped membranes.
These membranes will reflect or absorb a fraction of the sunlight reaching the Earth, literally blocking it. The team argues that if the amount of sunlight reaching Earth is reduced by just 1.5%, we could completely eliminate the effects of all our greenhouse gas emissions.
Personally, I am quite skeptical about this idea. For one thing, the team has yet to explain exactly what these bubbles will be made of and how they will be sent to the target location, which is near the first LaGrange point of the Earth-Sun system.
They will have to maintain the stability of the raft by balancing the gravitational forces of the Earth, the Sun and probably also the other planets. They will also have to deal with radiation pressure from the Sun itself, not to mention the constant rain from the solar wind and micrometeoroids.
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To block even one percent of the Sun’s output would require a raft thousands of miles across, making it the largest structure we’ve ever put in space. So there is only a small engineering challenge to make this thing work.