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Mexico bans photo voltaic geoengineering after rogue experiment



A US startup carried out a geoengineering experiment in Mexico, which the nation claims was executed with out prior discover and consent.

Mexico introduced this Tuesday a brand new set of measures to ban photo voltaic geoengineering experiments within the nation, after a US startup started releasing sulfur particles into the ambiance within the northern state of Baja California.

The Mexican authorities mentioned it is going to develop a method to ban future experimentation with photo voltaic geoengineering, which may also embrace an info marketing campaign and scientific experiences. Nonetheless, the federal government didn’t announce extra particular actions.

“Mexico reiterates its unavoidable commitment to the protection and well-being of the population from practices that generate risks to human and environmental security,” mentioned the federal government in a assertion.

Geoengineering refers back to the act of intentionally altering the Earth’s techniques to regulate its local weather.

One theoretical proposal has been to spray sulphur particles to chill the planet —which has been documented to briefly occur after volcanic eruptions.

A current United Nations report discovered that this apply, generally known as stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), “has the potential to reduce global mean temperatures”.

However, it discovered, it “cannot fully offset the widespread effects of global warming and produces unintended consequences, including effects on ozone”.

The UN conference on Organic Range established a moratorium on geoengineering in 2010, within the absence of sufficient scientific knowledge and rules.

Rogue experiment

In 2022, the US startup Making Sunsets launched an unauthorised experiment from two websites within the northern Mexican state of Baja California. The corporate claims it launched balloons injected with sulphur dioxide particles into the ambiance, which weren’t monitored nor recovered.

The corporate’s co-founder Luke Iseman mentioned he performed the experiment in Baja California as a result of he lives there.

The Mexican authorities mentioned the experiment was carried out “without prior notice and without the consent of the Government of Mexico and the surrounding communities”.

Making Sunsets is already promoting “cooling credits” for future balloon flights with bigger quantities of sulphur dioxide for $10 every.

“Your funds will be used to release at least 1 gram of our ‘clouds’ into the stratosphere on your behalf, offsetting the warming effect of 1 ton of carbon dioxide for 1 year,” the corporate claims on its web site.

Lily Fuhr, deputy program director on the Heart for Worldwide Environmental Regulation (Ciel), mentioned in a assertion that by providing a “cheap and easy quick fix” to the local weather disaster, the corporate “plays into the hands of the fossil fuel industry”.

“Solar geoengineering is too risky and ungovernable to pursue. We support the Mexican government in their plan for a ban and call on them to immediately stop the new flights that ‘Make Sunsets’ has announced for January 2023,” Fuhr mentioned.

Negative effects

James Haywood is a professor of atmospheric science at Exeter College and co-wrote the current UN report on SAI.

He instructed Local weather House that Make Sunsets experiment was not harmful as the quantity of sulphur was so small.

“It is more of a [public relations] stunt,” he mentioned, “it’s not going to make a blind bit of difference”.

However placing bigger quantities of sulphur within the ambiance could be harmful, he mentioned.

Whereas most of the side-effects of SAI could be averted whether it is executed correctly, he mentioned, some are very troublesome to keep away from.

For instance, he mentioned, placing giant quantities of sulphur into the ambiance is prone to improve winter rainfall over northern Europe and scale back it over southern Europe, significantly in Spain and Portugal.

Talking earlier than the Mexican assertion, Haywood mentioned that in the meanwhile there “is no government, no governance” of geoengineering and that he wasn’t conscious of any governments proposing rules.

Ciel referred to as on extra governments to announce bans on the apply.

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