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Firing moon dust into space could stop global warming, scientists find. But is there an easier way?

Firing moon dust into space could create a solar shield around the earth and reduce global warming, scientists have found.
Firing moon dust into space could create a solar shield around the earth and reduce global warming, scientists have found. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Charlotte Elton
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It sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel. But scientists think that firing moon dust into space could shade the earth from global warming.

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We could stop global warming by firing moon dust into space, researchers say.

From building a massive floating solar farm to feeding cows seaweed, inventors have come up with plenty of outlandish solutions for fighting climate change.

But this could be the strangest yet.

Shooting millions of tonnes of moon dust into the atmosphere could mitigate global warming, University of Utah scientists have calculated.

“It is amazing to contemplate how moon dust - which took over four billion years to generate - might help slow the rise in Earth’s temperature, a problem that took us less than 300 years to produce,” said Scott Kenyon, co-author of the study.

How would firing moon dust into space stop global warming?

Launching moon dust into space could ‘shade’ the earth, the scientists found.

The “high-porosity, fluffy” moon dust would be easier to launch than earth dust due to its lighter mass.

The scientists were inspired by the rings that surround some planets like Saturn.

Saturn’s rings are made of astronomical dust - they are visible to us because they intercept light and reflect it out.

“That was the seed of the idea; if we took a small amount of material and put it on a special orbit between the Earth and the sun and broke it up, we could block out a lot of sunlight with a little amount of mass,” said Ben Bromley, professor of physics and astronomy and lead author of the study.

The process would be quicker if infrastructure was built on the moon.

“Once Moon-based launch facilities are established, large amounts of dust could be uploaded quickly and continuously,” the study reads.

Canva
Firing moon dust into space is one way to stop global warming. Reducing emissions is a more effective method.Canva

Is there an easier way to fight climate change?

The plan sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel - but don’t get too excited. The idea has some serious logistical drawbacks.

To have a significant impact on global warming, the dust would have to block out 1-2 per cent of the sun’s rays.

This would require a launch of roughly ten billion kg of dust per year - around 700 times more mass than humans have ever launched into space.

Luckily, we don’t have to launch dust into space to fight climate change. We just have to stop digging up and burning fossil fuels.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have 380 billion tonnes of CO2 left in the global carbon budget.

This is the amount of carbon dioxide we can release and still have a 50 per cent chance of avoiding 1.5 degrees of warming.

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Global greenhouse gas emissions reached 58 billion tonnes in 2022 alone.

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