The first stratospheric test of geoengineering research technology, funded by Bill Gates, has been suspended under pressure from the indigenous people over whose heads it would take place, the Saami of northern Scandinavia. It may be moved back to the United States.
When Bill Gates’ $4.5 million investment in geoengineering research came to light in 2010, one of the scientists he put in charge of the project, Ken Caldeira, said the money was not funding any field experiments. But as the project has grown and moved to Harvard, that line was crossed.
The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment — SCoPEx for short — intends to release around a kilogram of calcium carbonate, essentially chalk dust, from a propelled balloon-gondola rig 12 miles up. Particles would cover the equivalent of 11 football fields and test the material’s potential to block a portion of solar radiation, countering the heat-trapping effects of carbon dioxide. The June test would not have released any particles, only tried out the rig’s technologies.
The Saami have reason to be concerned about what’s flying over their heads. Winds from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster dumped radiation on their villages and reindeer grazing lands. Thousands of animals had to be slaughtered, and decades later reindeer meat must still be tested for radiation. The Saami have also taken an active stance on climate, persuading Norway’s second largest pension fund to divest from fossil fuels. And they showed up at Standing Rock in 2017 to support tribes resisting the oil-carrying Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River.‘No Thanks’ to Bill Gates Plan to Block Sun With Chalk Dust, Scandinavia Says • Children’s Health Defense