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Articles by Sarah Sax

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This story was originally published by WIRED and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

A group of British scientists had a plan for a groundbreaking geoengineering test. Working from a disused military airstrip in Norfolk, U.K., they would attach a 3,000-foot hose to a helium balloon, pump water into it, and spray the liquid into the atmosphere, where it would evaporate. The hardware test was part of a bigger plan to see if strategically releasing aerosols might help cool the planet by reflecting sunlight. Known as the Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering, or Spice, project, it was run by three U.K. research councils and backed by four universities, several government departments, and the private company Marshall Aerospace.

They presented their plans to the public at the British Science Festival in the fall of 2011 — and triggered a “fiasco,” as an editorial in the journal Nature described it. Scientists bickered over it, newspapers ran negative headlines, and a Canadian NGO launched a campaign to urge the U.K. government to cancel the trial. Within months, the project was dead.

Solar radiation management is one of... Read more