New Delhi, June 5, 2021: As we celebrate World Environment Day day, we ask you a simple question – ‘Who is the world’s No. 1 philanthropist?’
You got it. It’s Bill Gates whose name comes to mind first. The founder of Microsoft. Perhaps the most famous billionaire of our times.
What do our children learn about Bill Gates?
That he is a benevolent man who wants to give away all his wealth. That he loves to support and fund good causes around the world.
Bill Gates is the world’s fourth richest man. He is worth $144 billion.
We all know that. But how many of us know that he also wants to control the solar system?
Yes. You read it right. The solar system. He wants to control how the Sun behaves.
Bill Gates has funded the craziest experiment that you can ever think of.
He has partnered with US-based Harvard University and a bunch of other funders for a scientific project.
The aim of the project is to ‘dim the Sun’. It means, they want to block the sunrays from reaching the Earth.
And why do they want to do that? Because they think it will stop global warming, which is responsible for causing climate change.
You are wondering how this outlandish climate project works.
According to the project’s outline, the plan is to fly planes or balloons high up into the stratosphere, and then spray a cocktail of chemicals into the air.
The spray will mainly include calcium carbonate, and sometimes sulfate aerosol.
So what exactly will the chemicals do up there in the stratosphere?
Once calcium carbonate is sprayed, its particles will reflect some of the sunlight heading Earthwards straight back into space.
So, with the sunrays partially blocked from reaching the Earth, the planet will apparently start cooling.
The project sounds not only outrageous, but even dangerous because it is a plan to directly tamper with nature.
Bill Gates, however, wants it to go ahead with it.
The first part of the project was scheduled for this month. The Harvard University team had chosen a venue where the Sun was to be dimmed. It’s the province of Lapland in Sweden.
The experts had planned to launch a high-altitude balloon from the city of Kiruna in Lapland. After reaching a height of 20 kilometres, the balloon was to spray chemicals into the air. And the ‘dimming of the Sun’ was to start.
However, thanks to protests by activists, who raised alarm over the unknown implications of the mission, the whole plan had to be dropped.
The first phase of the project to block the Sun got blocked itself!
Environmental groups had written to the Swedish government and the Swedish Space Corporation. They wanted the project stopped for the larger good of nature and humankind.
They argued that stratospheric aerosol injections on a huge scale could damage the ozone layer.
That, in turn, would heat up the stratosphere and disrupt ecosystems.
“Solar geoengineering is an extremely risky and intrinsically unjust technological proposal that doesn’t address any of the causes of climate change,” said Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America director for the ETC campaign group.
The Sun hasn’t set on Bill Gates’ cherished project yet. The researchers are likely to be on the lookout for a new venue.
The project is not a brand new idea actually. The idea of blocking sunrays was first thought of a few years back at Harvard University.
At that time, the project was named SCoPEx or Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment.
Back then, the researchers said the plan was not to directly try out solar geo-engineering.
Instead, the plan was to only study the risks involved in running such a project.
They also claimed that the experiment won’t harm the people or the environment at all.
Much later, we saw Bill Gates selecting the project for funding.
We cannot afford to ignore a project like this. There are lots of unanswered questions.
Is it humanly possible to block sunrays on a large scale?
Can the process really stop global warning and climate change?
Should calcium carbonate be sprayed into the air to cover the whole world?
Will it impact birds and planes in the air?
Will our forests survive if the Sun is partially blocked?
To anyone who cares for life on earth and nature, this experiment sounds dubious, if not alarming.
Ask environmental activists, they will tell you that solar geo-engineering can backfire on us.
A report by CNBC says this kind of experiment can weaken the monsoon in India. It can change weather patterns in China and Africa.
If that is the case, a country like India, which depends on the monsoon rains for its survival, could see huge damage to its farming output.
Let’s look at solar geo-engineering’s other impacts on our lives.
If tonnes and tonnes of chemicals are repeatedly sprayed into the atmosphere, surely it will have some impact on humans living in those areas.
We know that strong sunlight is a natural disinfectant. It helps us fight bacteria and viruses.
Sunlight also gives us Vitamin D, which helps us fight various diseases.
Even during this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, doctors are advising us to get some sunlight to be able to fight off the coronavirus to some extent.
How will our bodies react if the sunlight is dimmed?
To argue in favour of Mr Bill Gates, one can always say that he’s only part of a larger team that’s funding and running this experiment.
But he is party to it, after all. He is jointly bankrolling an effort that goes against nature.
Bill Gates is a prominent man. He is a widely-respected tycoon. He invests in health care projects. He inspires people around the world to do wonderful things.
But does that give him the right to fund experiments that tamper with the solar system?
It’s something worth debating as we mark World Environment Day today.