Indigenous group asks Harvard to shut down controversial geoengineering project to block Sun | New



The Saami Council, an organization of indigenous peoples, this month launched a petition calling on Harvard to shut down its experiment in Controlled Stratospheric Disruption, a controversial environmental engineering project that aims to block the sun’s rays to fight climate change. .

The council, which represents regional groups of Saami peoples in northern Scandinavia and northwestern Russia, issued an open letter on June 4 demanding the project end. Known as “SCoPEx”, the experiment is being led by the research group of Prof. Frank N. Keutsch at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

In order to better understand solar engineering and curb global warming, Keutsch’s group intends to release a small amount of particles into the atmosphere to observe whether those particles could reflect sunlight back into space.

The Saami Council argues in its letter that artificially manipulating the environment in this way “could generate irreversible changes in natural systems” that could contradict Indigenous groups’ understanding of living in harmony with nature, foment geopolitical tensions and increase more political and political conflicts of the North’s disproportionate economic power.

The letter further argues that the experiment is only able to superficially mask the effects of climate change rather than providing a solution to carbon emissions.

“Instead of making notable efforts to address the root cause of the climate crisis, solar geoengineering offers a ‘quick fix’ to stop global warming, which is not in line with the precautionary principle,” the letter.

SCoPEx had previously scheduled a test flight in June over Kiruna, Sweden, using a high-altitude balloon. The Swedish Space Corporation suspended the test in April following public pressure and a separate protest letter from the Saami Council.

SEAS applied physics professor David W. Keith told the New York Times that the group is considering moving the test to the United States.

For now, the SCoPEx advisory committee has postponed the project until 2022 to allow time to consider the potential negative impacts of the project on local communities and on the climate in general.

Sally Klimp, the executive coordinator of the SCoPEx advisory committee, wrote in an emailed statement this week that researchers agree that reducing carbon emissions “must be the top priority to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” She also reiterated the committee’s commitment to exploring both the pros and cons of geoengineering research.

Klimp acknowledged that while current research practices are not well suited to address “ethical, moral, or even technical issues associated with geoengineering research,” the committee is committed to developing “comprehensive and comprehensive approaches. inclusive research governance ”.

“This committee designs a global public dialogue with an emphasis on listening to the voices of historically marginalized and climate vulnerable communities and considering many possible future scenarios,” she wrote. “We engage in this process and ensure that decisions about the experiment demonstrate the fundamental principles of transparency, public engagement and technical soundness.”

– Editor Natalie L. Kahn can be contacted at Follow her on Twitter @natalielkahn.

– Editor Simon J. Levien can be contacted at Follow him on twitter @simonjlevien.


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