We’ve already thoroughly debunked geoengineering strategies like launching mirrors into space, seeding the oceans with extra iron, and loading the atmosphere with ray-repelling aerosols. But this idea, posed by a scientist last week at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, though still a long shot, is actually pretty ingenious.
Alfred Wong, a plasma physicist at UCLA, says that we might be able to use Earth’s natural magnetic field as a giant conveyor belt to catapult excess carbon dioxide into outer space. The CO2 must be ionized first, which Dr. Wong proposes could be done with lasers (generating less emissions than the process would remove).
Once they are there, Dr Wong expects the incoming stream of charged particles that cause auroras to deliver the bonus that will make the whole thing work, by dumping some of their energy into the spiralling as well. This should happen through a process called stochastic resonance: the spiralling molecules get preferential treatment, so to speak, because they stand out in what is otherwise an environment of random movements.
Blocks himself admits that the project is still in the incubator stage, and has a long way to go to be viable, but thinks it could be workable. Just don’t tell the neighbors.