A geoengineering startup is facing criticism for trying to privatize an untested method of climate-change prevention.
- Make Sunsets is a geoengineering company that wants to sell “cooling credits” in exchange for releasing chemicals into the atmosphere that offset carbon emissions, reducing the effects of climate change.
- In April 2022, it released a balloon filled with several grams of iron sulfate into the atmosphere. The balloon burst and released the chemicals with unknown results, as there was no monitoring equipment to observe the result. This is only the first of multiple experiments it plans to perform.
- The company is facing scrutiny for going “rogue” and trying to advance science in a direction with unclear consequences—even potentially dangerous ones.
- Make Sunsets has already raised $750,000 in venture capital.
Why it’s News
Solar geoengineering is an unproven science and one that the scientific community cautiously approaches. Releasing chemicals into the environment could reduce the effects of climate change—but it could also unleash severe side effects that affect different habitats and ecosystems differently.
This could trickle into human affairs as well, potentially sparking political conflicts and ecological disasters around the globe, MIT Technology Review reports.
“The current state of science is not good enough … to either reject, or to accept, let alone implement [solar geoengineering]. To go ahead with implementation at this stage is a very bad idea,” says Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative executive director Janos Pasztor.
Make Sunsets cofounder Luke Iseman is determined to forge ahead though with smaller experiments, releasing chemicals and observing the results until he’s ready to start selling $10 “cooling credits” to offset carbon emissions. Iseman wants to push the debate around geoengineering forward, despite criticism from researchers, to face the threat of climate change and address the issue.
“Making me look like the Bond villain is going to be helpful to certain groups … It’s morally wrong, in my opinion, for us not to be doing this. [We must] do this as quickly and safely as we can,” Iseman says.