A huge sunshade can be installed at the Sun-Earth Lagrange-1 point to reduce radiative forcing

20th Dec 2023
A huge sunshade can be installed at the Sun-Earth Lagrange-1 point to reduce radiative forcing

The Planetary Sunshade Foundation proposed to construct a massive sunshade to mitigate radiative forcing and to help fight climate change. It can be installed at the Sun-Earth Lagrange-1 point for redirecting sunlight back into space.

A potential step to stop climate change

The concept of a sunshade is not new. Recently, the Planetary Sunshade Foundation has been actively producing papers reinforcing the idea and emphasizing its practicality. To that end, the Foundation established a dedicated group to examine and advocate for the implementation of a space-based sunshade as a strategy to combat global climate change.

According to the Foundation, a planetary sunshade could serve as an optimal solution for managing solar radiation. They say it can become a crucial element in global initiatives to address the ongoing challenges of climate change on Earth.

A question of temperature fluctuations

In the ongoing battle against climate change, the key to mitigating its severe impacts may hinge on three critical elements: reducing emissions, removing carbon dioxide, and managing solar radiation.

A global consensus has been established to strive towards preventing the Earth’s average temperature from exceeding a 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) increase over current levels. The stark reality remains that the lower the temperature rise, the milder the consequences of climate change.

However, climate researchers warn that our planet might breach the 1.5°C threshold within the next decade. In the interim, there has been a surge in extreme weather events, escalating trends in sea level rise, widespread wildfires, and the alarming melting of ice caps.

Amidst these ominous signs, there is mounting political pressure to address the impending climate catastrophe.

A critical need for decarbonization

Morgan Goodwin, the Executive Director of the Planetary Sunshade Foundation, says that current decarbonization strategies are essential, but they fall short of ensuring a habitable planet. Besides, limiting the incoming solar radiation is important as well. Thus, among the various approaches proposed to mitigate solar radiation, the sunshade stands out due to its numerous advantages.

Building of the sunshade

The foundation asserts that the development of a Planetary Sunshade is feasible. It leverages advancements in existing solar sail technology that have been previously tested in space. As per the foundation’s information, they are considering two potential strategies for constructing the sunshade.

“We are pursuing both options, and think that if a planetary sunshade is built, the initial phases of construction will be an Earth-launched architecture while the later phases will use space resources and in-space construction,” the group’s website says.

However, the possibility of a sun-deflecting “made-in-the-shade” sail remains uncertain as discussions on the matter continue.

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