The CIA will partially fund a $630,000 study by the National Academy of Sciences that will investigate how humans could influence the Earth's climate using 'geoengineering.'
According to Mother Jones' Dana Liebelson and Chris Mooney, the project will look into several techniques for altering the environment to prevent climate change.
The first, known as "solar radiation management," works by pumping chemicals into the atmosphere that reflect some of the sun's rays back into space in order to reduce the amount of heat retained due to greenhouse gases.
The second method relies on removing greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide from the atmosphere to counteract the emissions from power plants and automobiles.
This technique has already been attempted on a small scale. Last year, an American entrepreneur named Russ George attempted to create an algae bloom that would theoretically suck CO2 out of the atmosphere by dumping iron filings into the Pacific Ocean. Much like fertilizer for plants, the filings provided vital nutrients to the algae and led to the formation of a large bloom.
The effectiveness of this method is still unclear. If the algae die and sink to the ocean floor, the CO2 they absorb is effectively sequestered. But if fish eat the algae before they can sink, their metabolism will re-emit those gases back into the atmosphere, cancelling out any environmental benefit. Many scientists assume that the latter is the more likely outcome, which is why the scientific community has for the most part condemned George's experiment.
As for why the CIA is involved with projects attempting to alter the Earth's climate, a spokesperson told Mother Jones, "It's natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security."
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