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Mexico bans solar geoengineering after clandestine experiment in Baja California

Make Sunsets experienced solar geoengineering just before Christmas

A totally clandestine solar geoengineering experiment. A spray of sulfur particles scattered in the stratosphere. A start-up that ignores every rule. And a government that tries to fix fast. These are the ingredients for the “mess” that happened in Mexico a few weeks ago.

Create sunsets

Christmas is just a few days away. Make Sunsets announces that it has launched the first solar geoengineering experiment in Baja California, in the far northwest of Mexico. A balloon released by the US start-up rises above the tropopause, over 15 km from the ground, and begins to spread sulfur particles. Purpose: to increase the reflection in space of solar radiation reaching Earth. Thus reducing the radiative forcing and thus artificially manipulating the climate.

Instead of “creating sunsets”, the Make Sunsets generates some thrill along the back in Mexico City. The government, this experiment, did not authorize it. On the contrary, nobody knows about it. And it’s a problem. Geoengineering techniques have been studied for some time but, so far, most scientists advise not to carry out experiments. Not even on a small scale. The effects on the climate are not controllable and the models are very uncertain about the consequences. (Some countries are considering using geoengineering, for example, to make sure enough rain. But taking it away from their neighbors. The perfect recipe for creating international tensions).

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That’s also why the start-up did everything in secret. Until the day of the experiment. Performed without any government authorization and, above all, without any scientific supervision. Business is business, this seems to be the only concern of Americans. Make Sunsets comes out only when things are done. To promote the sale of “cooling credits“, a kind of counterpart of carbon credits but realized -in theory- not with CO2 storage but with solar geoengineering. It is unclear what impact the experiment had in Baja California.

Mexico against solar geoengineering

The government takes action and decides that the red line has been crossed. And prohibits geoengineering. “Mexico reaffirms its essential commitment to the protection and well-being of the population from practices that generate risks to human and environmental security“, explains the executive in a note. Where he promises to put the precautionary principle at the center of his action and soon ban this technique of climate manipulation.

To prohibit and, where appropriate, stop the testing practices of solar geoengineering in the country, the Government of Mexico, through interinstitutional coordination between the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) and the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt), will implement actions related to the precautionary principle to protect communities and environmental environments“, specifies the executive, also recalling the moratorium on geoengineering wanted by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in 2010, to which Mexico is a party.

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