“It's dangerous to be supporting geoengineering research. It’s a distraction from the transformative policies that we actually need.” — Jennie C. Stephens
In the heart of Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California, there’s a group of retired physicists and engineers working on a nozzle to save their grandchildrens’ lives. The team, affectionately dubbed “the Old Salts,” designed the nozzle to spray sea salt particles in a specific size and concentration into the air. Once finished, it’ll be used to inject the substance into the skies over certain regions of the world.
It’s all part of an experiment to see if this approach can “brighten” clouds so they’re capable of reflecting more sunlight away from the Earth. While the tests would be small, they will attempt to uncover whether a larger scale operation like this could cool downthe planet—albeit temporarily. Then, maybe, the Old Salts’ grandchildren might have a fighting chance at surviving a dangerously warming world.
Facilitating this experiment is the Marine Cloud Brightening Project, a University of Washington nonprofit that’s researching technologies and strategies to intentionally and artificially cool the world’s climate patterns through new and emerging technologies—a process also known as “geoengineering.” The inspiration for the project came from the “observation of particulates—like those that waft up from various sources like ships, coal plants, and cars—mix into clouds” making them brighter, Kelly Wanser, co-founder and senior adviser of the MCB Project, told The Daily Beast. “They’re creating a little bit of an umbrella effect that’s reflecting a bit more sunlight, and it’s cooling the planet.”