Sunblock for the Planet? Billionaires’ Gamble on Solar Geoengineering

At the Munich Security Conference held in February 2023, George Soros took the stage to discuss the urgent threat that climate change poses to our civilization. The 92-year-old Hungarian-American billionaire proposed a potential solution to address this issue: brightening the clouds over the Arctic in order to reflect the sun’s energy away from the melting ice caps.

Apart from the debates surrounding George Soros, who is often unfairly criticized in right-wing conspiracy circles, there are other billionaires who have become interested in solar geoengineering. These individuals are also exploring the idea of reflecting the sun’s rays back into space.


Something that’s been quite popular among the world’s wealthiest individuals is the idea of blocking the sun’s rays, similar to how they dodge paying high taxes. They aim to apply a substantial amount of sunblock to the Earth’s atmosphere through solar geoengineering.

Bill Gates, for example, supported a project led by Harvard University scientists. The project aimed to test the idea of spraying calcium carbonate into the atmosphere over northern Scandinavia in 2021. However, due to objections from local Native communities and environmentalists, the project was eventually cancelled.

“Northern Scandinavia” generally refers to the northern regions of the Scandinavian Peninsula, which includes parts of Norway and Sweden, and sometimes Finland.

At the end of 2021, Jeff Bezos used Amazon’s powerful supercomputers to study what would happen if large amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2) were released into the atmosphere.

Jeff Bezos is the founder and former CEO of Amazon, one of the world’s largest online retailers. He is also the owner of The Washington Post and the space exploration company Blue Origin. Bezos is known for his significant influence in the tech industry and his considerable wealth.

In early 2023 , Dustin Moskovitz, a wealthy cofounder of Facebook, generously invested $900,000 to support scientists in various countries such as Mali, Brazil, and Thailand. The purpose of this funding is to conduct research on solar geoengineering and explore its potential impacts.

According to a report by TIME magazine in February 2023, not only venture capitalists but also smaller investors are showing interest in solar geoengineering. This is evident from their recent investment of $750,000 in a company named Make Sunsets. The primary objective of Make Sunsets is to carry out a large-scale solar geoengineering project using sulfur dioxide (SO2). Recently, Make Sunsets achieved a significant milestone by conducting successful initial tests in the United States. These tests involved launching balloons containing SO2 in Nevada,located in the  western United States

Proposals to manipulate the Earth’s atmosphere, referred to as solar geoengineering, have sparked significant debate within the realm of climate science. These ideas are controversial due to concerns about their potential impact on global weather, doubts about their feasibility, and worries about a concept called “moral hazard.”

Moral hazard in the context of climate change refers to a concern that if we heavily promote a quick solution like solar geoengineering, it might shift our focus away from tackling the fundamental issue at hand: reducing carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Essentially, it’s the worry that relying too much on a temporary fix could distract us from the urgent and long-term need to address the root cause of climate change. In other words, some people worry that we may become complacent and neglect the necessary actions to reduce our carbon footprint if we put too much emphasis on these geoengineering strategies.

The current situation can be summarized in this way:

● Plan A for addressing climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This approach is the most sensible and necessary course of action.

● Plan B through E also involve efforts to cut emissions.

● However, Plan F, which is considered highly dangerous, suggests giving up on emissions reductions and relying on adding chemicals like sulfur dioxide to counterbalance climate change effects.
Plan F is seen as risky and not recommended compared to the essential focus on Plan A: emissions reduction.

As time is running out and global emissions continue to rise, the scientific discussion has evolved in recent years. A group of scientists now propose that it is important to conduct more research on the risky Plan F option. This means dedicating efforts to better understand the potential consequences and feasibility of implementing such a plan, just in case it becomes a necessary course of action. As an example, the White House has developed a five-year research plan specifically focused on studying this option.

There is a group of scientists who believe that implementing a certain level of solar geoengineering could serve as a temporary solution to address climate change. Essentially, their argument is that if efforts to reduce emissions are not progressing quickly enough, we can explore geoengineering options to temporarily stabilize global temperatures. The idea is to use these techniques to lessen the abrupt rise in temperatures, allowing more time for emissions to decrease and for the Earth to absorb some of the excess carbon that we have emitted into the atmosphere. Once emissions are reduced and the Earth’s natural processes can take effect, the need for geoengineering would diminish.

It is likely that some billionaires who are interested in solar geoengineering have a grasp of the trade-offs involved, or they are receiving advice from experts who do. Their investment decisions are influenced by the evolving scientific discussions on this topic. As the scientific debate shifts, these billionaires are directing their financial support accordingly. This demonstrates their understanding of the complex considerations associated with solar geoengineering. In simpler terms, these billionaires are aware of the pros and cons and are making their investment choices based on the changing scientific discourse.

Soros has promoted a plan, similar to one proposed by Sir David King, a former chief scientific advisor to the U.K. government. The idea is to place a fleet of boats around the Arctic region, which would spray salt water into the atmosphere. This process aims to create clouds that can block sunlight and have a cooling effect on the Earth.

Yet, there are likely other motivations as to why individuals with immense wealth, comparable to what some nations spend annually, find solar geoengineering appealing. One factor is that many of these individuals have acquired their fortunes in the technology sector, where the mindset of finding inventive engineering solutions to solve various issues is deeply ingrained. In more straightforward language, these billionaires may believe that employing a similar approach to address climate change through geoengineering could offer a swift and effective resolution, aligning with their tech-oriented mindset.

Furthermore, it is crucial to acknowledge that effectively addressing climate change will necessitate an enormous global undertaking. The scale of the effort required is immense and will demand the collaborative involvement of countries worldwide.

This means we need to make some changes to what we already do. For example, we should switch our power plants from using fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Additionally, we should replace our gasoline cars with electric ones.We might also need to rethink the basics of what and how we consume. Society can’t keep taking more and more resources without eventually facing big challenges.

If you spent your 20s working really hard and it paid off so much that now you can focus on passion projects, with everyone around you calling you a genius, you might not be very interested in big changes in society. You might feel like things are working just fine for you the way they are.In your experience, things have gone really well, so you think the current system is probably fine. But you also know that climate change is a serious problem. What should we do?

Solar geoengineering might seem like a solution. Spraying a few million tons of SO2 into the stratosphere sounds scary to some people, but others find it reassuring. They see it as a quick fix for climate change, allowing us to try out this tech solution and then continue our lives the way we always have. After all, things have worked out pretty well for some of us so far.

The stratosphere starts about 10 kilometers (6 miles) above the Earth’s surface and extends up to around 50 kilometers (31 miles) high.

Understanding Stratospheric Aerosol Injection: Effects, Pros, and Cons

Spraying sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the stratosphere is a form of solar geoengineering, specifically known as stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI). This method aims to reflect a portion of the sun’s energy back into space to cool the Earth’s surface. Here’s a breakdown of the effects, pros, and cons:

1. Cooling Effect: SO2 particles in the stratosphere form sulfate aerosols, which reflect sunlight away from the Earth, leading to a cooling effect.

2. Climate Impact: This cooling effect can potentially offset some of the warming caused by greenhouse gases.


1. Rapid Cooling: SAI could quickly reduce global temperatures, providing a temporary solution to global warming

2. Cost-Effective: Compared to other climate change mitigation strategies, SAI could be relatively inexpensive to implement.

3. Emergency Use: It could be used as an emergency measure to prevent catastrophic climate impacts while other long-term solutions are developed.


1. Temporary Fix: SAI does not address the root cause of climate change—greenhouse gas emissions. It only provides a temporary cooling effect.

2. Potential Side Effects: Spraying SO2 could have unintended consequences, such as changes in weather patterns, disruptions to the ozone layer, and impacts on global rainfall distribution.

3. Ethical and Governance Issues: Deciding who controls and regulates such technology raises significant ethical and political questions. There could be disagreements on its deployment and potential impacts on different regions.

4. Termination Shock: If SAI were to suddenly stop, it could lead to rapid and severe warming, known as termination shock, which could be more damaging than gradual climate change.


While stratospheric aerosol injection could offer a temporary solution to global warming, it comes with significant risks and uncertainties. It should be considered as part of a broader strategy that includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing sustainable long-term solutions to climate change.