Sweden aborts Bill Gates-funded experiment aiming to blot out the Sun

The challenge that aimed to launch aerosols into the ambiance to dim the Sun proved too controversial and stoked staunch opposition from environmental activists and indigenous Sami individuals alike. Widespread use of technology that dims natural sunlight to help fight climate change should only be used as a last resort, scientists have warned.

The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) stressed that the scientific community itself is divided on the appropriateness of such experiments. The SSC has cancelled a controversial geoengineering experiment to determine whether releasing a cloud of aerosols to block the Sun could stop or reverse global warming. Laid out by researchers at Harvard University and funded, among others, by Bill Gates, the so-called Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (or SCoPEx), planned to launch a high-altitude balloon into the atmosphere that would later release a cloud of calcium carbonate (more commonly known as chalk dust) in order to study its effects on sunbeams reaching Earth. In theory, solar geoengineering is based on the idea that experts can reduce the impact of global warming by reflecting sunlight back into space using chemicals.

The challenge, nevertheless, proved too controversial. Despite all assurances from SCoPEx that the experiment would pose “no significant hazard to people or the environment” and would only release a limited amount of particles into the air, the Sami Council opposed solar geoengineering as such. Activists also argued that SCoPEx could potentially distract from the goal of reducing carbon emissions and have “irreversible sociopolitical effects that could compromise the world’s necessary efforts to achieve zero-carbon societies”.