Microsoft founder Bill Gates is now providing funding for "Cloud-Whitening Technology", according to an article in The Ecologist last week. Silver Lining, a research group based in San Francisco and the recipient of the Gates Foundation's $300,000 award, will begin research of technology that will convert sea water into microscopic particles to be sprayed into clouds. According to The Ecologist:
Scientists believe this will increase the whiteness, or albedo, of clouds and increase their ability to reflect more sunlight back into space, reducing global warming. The Gates-backed sea trial would be the largest known attempt to geoengineer the climate so far, reported to be conducted over an area of 10,000km2.
Advocates against the experiments claim the trials to be "risky", though much stronger words can be used to describe such a mechanical, reactive intervention in a system so complex as that of the planetary ecosystem. Technological quick fixes of a complex problem only serve to proliferate the problem and create unintended consequences. A much wiser and cost-effective approach would be to focus on ground-level adaptation measures and reducing energy consumption in our societies.