Mexico Bans Solar Geoengineering After Startup Stunt

Mexico Bans Solar Geoengineering After Startup Stunt

In 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines sent 20 million metric tons of sulfur aerosols into the atmosphere. Once airborne, the particles reflected incoming sunlight back into space, resulting in a noticeable cooling of global temperatures over the next two years and reigniting debate about whether to purposely replicate the process to combat the global warming.

In the last few years of the climate crisis, there have been countless discussions both for and against the controversial form of geoengineering ever since. However, experts largely agree on one thing: We are a long way from confidently conducting real-world tests in a way that reduces the potential for horrifying and unintended environmental consequences. But that didn’t seem to stop Luke Iseman, CEO of startup Make Sunsets, from giving it a shot late last year in Baja California.

Last week, Mexico made it very clear that it would not accept any of that.

Less than a month after news broke of Iseman’s unauthorized launch of two small weather balloons containing less than 10 grams of sulfur dioxide, the Mexican government’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources announced a ban on any geoengineering. similar lot in the future. What the edge explained on Wednesday, the ban is aimed at protecting local communities and the country’s environment, as there are no international regulations in place on similar experiments.

[Related: Is blocking out the sun a good solution to the climate crisis?]

Iseman’s tests were extremely small (a commercial airliner emits about 100 grams of sulfur dioxide per minute, by comparison) and, by his own admission, amounted to “science project territory…to confirm he could do it.” Iseman added that Make Sunsets did not even track the balloons to see if they were ascending high enough to successfully deliver their payloads.

Of course, critics have criticized the incendiary stunt, calling Making Sunsets hypocritical by “violating the rights of [local] communities to dictate their own future,” said Kelly Wanser, executive director of climate research nonprofit SilverLining. MIT Technology Review last month.

This is not to say that variations in solar geoengineering cannot be further explored, of course, but they must be carried out responsibly and in good faith, and with a great deal of transparency. iseman talking to the edgetold them on Wednesday that all future release plans for Making Sunsets are “indefinitely on hold” for the time being.

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