"Lasers". Photo:(Giphy)

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Scientists Are Actually Talking About Building Giant Space Lasers to Control the Weather

This is what happens when you refuse to do things the easy way

(Charles O'Rear/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

At the first Climate Engineering Conference, being held right now in Berlin, scientists from around the world are pitching their best big ideas for how to stop global climate change from irrevocably altering life on Earth.

One of the more elaborate ideas pitched at the conference, according to Brian Merchant for Motherboard, came from a scientist working for the European Space Agency. Isabelle Dicaire thinks we could use giant orbiting lasers to shoot the sky and change the weather. Other scientists also latched on to the space laser idea, suggesting lasers could be used to do everything from breaking down greenhouse gases to causing clouds to form, reflecting the Sun's heat away.

Even by the already extravagant standards of geoengineering, where ideas like deliberately triggering algae blooms in the ocean or building a factory to mimic the effects of a volcanic eruption are par for the course, some of these schemes sound more like the dream schemes of evil engineers than legitimate prospects.

"Lasers". Photo:(Giphy)

But that's where we are now: giant weather-controlling space lasers are now being considered as a real possibility by real scientists.

All of options pitched by geoengineers, from space lasers to iron seeding to space mirrors, are pretty much terrible—they all pose massive scientific challenges and ethical dilemmas. But when the world refuses to approach global climate change the easy way, by limiting emissions of greenhouse gases, this is what scientists are forced to think about.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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