Solar Geoengineering: Space bubbles against climate change

A group of MIT scientists is researching an utopian idea to stop global climate change

Source & Copyright by MIT

Source and Copyright by MIT

Author: House of Eden

  • MIT researchers work to fight climate change with 'space bubbles'
  • The innovation consists of inflatable bubbles that form a shield in space
  • Placed between the earth and sun to reflect radiation

At this point, it seems more unimaginable that the world is ready to move away from fossil fuels, so researchers at MIT's Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with an extraordinary Plan B. Most scientists agree that we must drastically reduce our emissions to minimize the risk of the severe consequences of climate change. The amount of greenhouse gases that humanity has been releasing into the air since the industrial revolution is now forming a blanket around our planet. Traps heat in the atmosphere, making our earth hotter and hotter.

A group of MIT researchers come up with a seemingly utopian idea for reversing global climate change: space bubbles.

The solution: space bubbles with solar geoengineering

Creating a shield with space bubbles to reflect sunlight away from our planet. The spheres would be made from a material such as silicon, which is transported into space in a molten form. The frozen bubbles will be positioned at the so-called L1 Lagrangian point - the point between the Earth and the Sun where their gravitational pulls break out. They are then connected and could cover an area the size of Brazil. Consequently, these spheres float above the earth and are said to reflect the strong rays of the sun. The project is based on the ideas of scientist James Early, who envisioned a repellent object at the Lagrangian point, and astronomer Roger Angel, who was working on a bubble raft.

MIT Solar Geoengineering Space Bubbles

Source & Copyright by MIT

Is solar geoengineering a mere concept or really feasible?

At the moment the project is still an assumption, but the interdisciplinary team is hoping for a lot of support for a feasibility study. This should include further laboratory experiments and analyses. After all, the MIT team has already conducted a successful first attempt. In doing so, they inflated a spherical shell under space conditions. Consequently, more research and experimentation is needed to determine the exact possibilities.

"Geoengineering could be our last and only option," says Carlo Ratti, head of the Sensible City Lab. "But most geoengineering ideas are grounded, which poses enormous risks for our living ecosystem." Accordingly, space-based solutions are safer. Another advantage is that the protection is reversible, meaning the bladders can be deflated and removed from their position. There is also no danger of destroying the Earth's biosphere. For example, if we blocked 1,8% of the sun's radiation before it hit our planet, we could reverse current global warming.

MIT Solar Geoengineering Space Bubbles Space Bubbles

Source & Copyright by MIT

When climate change has already gone too far

Geoengineering has proven controversial, but the United Nations Climate Change Committee sees the project as a necessary plan B when temperature increases can no longer be contained to manageable levels. The general public wonders if geoengineering poses a moral hazard as it undermines support for climate change policies and encourages people to see less importance in moving away from fossil fuels. The researchers therefore emphasize that the innovation is not being developed to replace current efforts to mitigate climate change, but rather to prepare for alternative paths.


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