A team of climate scientists want to launch enormous umbrellas into space to reduce the Earth’s exposure to the sun and fight climate change, The New York Times reported Friday.
The underlying idea is that large parasols could be positioned in space such that they marginally reduce the intensity of sunlight the Earth receives and thereby mitigate some global warming, the Times reported. In order to block out enough radiation, a single sunshade would need to be approximately the size of Argentina — nearly one million square miles — and would weigh about 2.5 million tons, so scientists are looking to prove the idea could work by first producing a 100-square foot prototype with the help of $10 to $20 million of funding.
Dr. Yoram Rozen, a physics professor and the Asher Space Research Institute’s director at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is leading the team of scientists pushing the idea, according to the Times. Because the Argentina-sized umbrella would be too large to feasibly launch into space, his team is hoping to build a set of smaller shades that would diffuse the intensity of the radiation reaching the planet.
“We can show the world, look, there is a working solution, take it, increase it to the necessary size,” Rozen told the Times.
Rozen and his team are still designing the prototype, but they anticipate that they could build it within about three years once they get the required funds, according to the Times. A full-sized product would cost trillions of dollars, and that expense would likely have to be picked up by many countries, Rozen told the Times.
“We at the Technion are not going to save the planet,” Rozen told the Times. “But we’re going to show that it can be done.”
Supporters of the ambitious sunshade idea posit that, if implemented successfully, the world would still need to stop using fossil fuels to power the global economy, according to the Times.
“I’m not saying this will be the solution, but I think everybody has to work toward every possible solution,” Istvan Szapudi, an astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii who recently published a paper examining a similar idea, told the Times.