Polemical geoengineering experiment is suspended
A project to spray water from the sea at an altitude of 1 km in the atmosphere, conducted by researchers from four universities in the United Kingdom ceased this October.
The plan, which involved suspending a hose by means of a helium balloon, would be a preliminary test of a family of geoengineering strategies - the deliberate manipulation of the Earth's climate - to combat the effects of global warming.
Called SPICE (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering), the program investigates the feasibility of launching particles in the upper atmosphere to reflect part of the Sun's energy back to space.
The test originally scheduled for October, but now suspended for at least six months, would not have the ability to affect the climate: a truly functional model would have to inject particles at an altitude of 20 km. The test would produce data on the behavior of the balloon and hose.
According to the material of the project, the cooling effect of an expected global implementation of this strategy would be comparable to a large volcanic eruption, an event type that throws large amounts of sulfur-based material in the stratosphere.
The researchers involved in the SPICE cite as an example the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, 1991, which caused a reduction of 0.5 º C in average global temperature over the next two years.
Violation of international agreements
According to the website of New Scientist magazine, the test was postponed after strong pressure exerted by the NGO ETC, based in Canada.
In letters sent to British authorities, the organization accused the experiment violates international agreements like the Convention on Biological Diversity of United Nations to impose a moratorium on the deployment of geoengineering strategies until their environmental effects are well studied.
But one expert heard by the magazine points out that the test of SPICE should not be seen as a violation of this principle, since it would not have the potential to really affect the climate.
But some environmental groups believe that the simple testing would represent a "Trojan horse" for the effective introduction of geoengineering technologies.
There are also fears that the choice of technological manipulation of the environment is used as a pretext for the most urgent measures, such as reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by human activity, be postponed.