UPDATE: We received a statement from Harvard press office about Keith’s work and his response to the Guardian article and thought we should share it with you.
We have been and are currently exploring possible new strategies for interrogating the stratospheric system without affecting the background stratosphere in any quantitative way. To date, we have not written any proposal to actually do so. We want to be absolutely clear that that we have no plans to implement a geoengineering field study to release “thousands of tonnes of sun-reflecting chemical particles into the atmosphere to artificially cool the planet, using a balloon flying 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner, New Mexico.”
It is premature to consider doing any such tests at a large scale to measure the climate response. Given the environmental threats to our planet and the growing pressure to seriously consider geo-engineering, we believe that we should actively begin to study (theoretically) what we might be able to learn if such proposals were advanced and ultimately undertaken.
We do not take the issue of geoengineering lightly. The care with which we have approached our research in this area over the decades speaks for itself.
The article described an experiment that researchers at Harvard University were planning for “sometime this year,” which included shooting “thousands of tonnes of sun-reflecting chemical particles into the atmosphere to artificially cool the planet, using a balloon flying 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner, New Mexico.”
I contacted the study author and scientist quoted in the article, David Keith, a researcher at Harvard University, to get some images of his research to follow up because I thought the proposed experiment was quite interesting.
To my surprise, Keith’s response was short and to the point:
The story is substantially fabricated.
A New York Times Green blog post about the research said the following:
The experiment, which would be conducted from a balloon launched from a NASA facility in New Mexico, would involve putting “micro” amounts of sulfate particles into the air with the goal of learning how they combine with water vapor and affect atmospheric ozone.
The researchers, James G. Anderson, a professor of atmospheric chemistry, and David W. Keith, whose field is applied physics, said the amounts involved would be so small that they would have no effect on climate — locally, regionally or globally. “This is an experiment that is completely nonintrusive,” Dr. Anderson said.
When pressed for more information, Keith said he’d love to set the record straight, but is “overloaded with press requests.” I’ll update this post with more information if we get the chance to talk to him.
Here’s Keith in his own words about his “unusual” climate change ideas, from a TED talk he gave in 2007.
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