Bubble wrap space shield could reverse global warming and save the planet
The planet is getting hotter, causing not only record heatwaves but fierce storms and flooding. Scientists say that up to 70% of the Earth’s animal and plant species could be extinct by the end of the century.
And we could be among them. Global temperatures are rising at a rate not seen since the last ice age, roughly 125,000 years ago.
The change is hard to ignore. After June’s temperatures in the UK hit a blistering 32.7ºC, the bookies have slashed odds from 6/1 to just 4/1 on this month being the hottest July on record.
But a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] has proposed a radical solution to cool the globe back down; a space parasol made of bubble wrap.
READ MORE: Extreme weather 'here to stay' as deadly storms set to worsen, top scientists warn
To be fair, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The team at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, explain that we could potentially reverse the global warming trend by deflecting around 1.8% of the energy coming from the Sun.
Previous studies have looked at injecting dust or some other reflective substance into the Earth’s atmosphere to deflect sunlight, but all of those schemes carry an extra risk. If there were any unforeseen circumstances there’s no “undo” button for geoengineering on that scale.
But the MIT researchers say a shield made of "space bubbles" stationed at Lagrangian Point 1 – one of the spots in the solar system where the Sun’s gravity and the Earth’s are in perfect balance – could screen out a significant percentage of solar radiation without those risks.
The screen, roughly the size of Brazil, would be made of “space bubbles”, made of silicon.
‘We believe that inflating thin film shells in space directly from a homogeneous molten material – such as silicon – can provide a variation in thickness that refracts a broad wave spectrum and allows us to launch large structural film elements,: the team shared in a press release.
They point out that if anything went wrong, the bubbles could just be popped.
“As bubbles can be intentionally destroyed by breaking their surface equilibrium,” the researchers explain, “this would make the solar geoengineering solution fully reversible and significantly reduce space debris”.
Significant challenges remain – from working out how to produce the space bubbles in a large enough quantity to deicing who pays for the project – but with temperature records toppling almost daily it’s with considering whether bubble wrap could save the world.
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