A Mexico-based startup will next week launch sulphur particles into the stratosphere in a “rogue” move to create a “mini-volcano” effect it says could help cool the planet.
The technique, known as stratospheric aerosol injection, mimics the impact of volcanoes by using a weather balloon to release sulphur, creating a cloud of particles that reflect the sun’s rays and have a cooling impact.
It is one of several geoengineering techniques being studied as a way to cool the planet to avoid breaching internationally agreed limits on global warming.
The amount of particles that start-up Make Sunsets plans to release in coming days, up to 2kg, will make a minimal difference to overall warming.
But experts in geoengineering say the launches set a dangerous precedent for private companies or governments to interfere with the planet’s atmosphere.
The company is backed by two venture capital funds, and is selling “cooling credits” to the public for $15 (£12), which it says pays for 1g of sulphur, expected to produce enough cooling to offset a ton of carbon emissions for a year.
It released a first balloon in December in Mexico, but will next week launch from California, after the Mexican government released a statement criticising the first effort.
Co-founder Luke Isemans said the potential risks of what he is doing are outweighed by the known threat of climate change.