Scientists Propose Using Lasers to Fight Global Warming From Space

At the world's first major geoengineering conference, two separate scientists put forward proposals to use lasers to modify the Earth's climate and fight global warming, from space.

One suggested that a satellite equipped with a high-powered laser could grow clouds in the atmosphere below; the other proposed lasers that would blast greenhouse gases from orbit to effectively erase the agents of climate change.

The highly theoretical proposals are still in their early stages, and easily count as the more radically ambitious of the already radically ambitious climate engineering schemes discussed by scientists. These plans don't concern gadgets that absorb carbon pollution or spreading particles in the sky, after all—we're talking about space lasers powerful enough to alter the climate.

And European Space Agency fellow Isabelle Dicaire studies them full time. She traveled to Berlin this week to discuss how a satellite equipped with high-powered LIDAR lasers may prove useful for researching—and maybe eventually actually orchestrating—climate engineering.

LIDAR is remote sensing technology that blasts a laser at a target, then analyzes its reflection to accurately measure distances. It's already widely used here on Earth (on things such as Google's driverless car), and by NASA's CALIPSO satellite. Dicaire is interested in what we could do with a much more powerful LIDAR positioned in space; theoretically, it should be able to better detect the movement of particles in clouds, and maybe even make new ones.venient if we could just zap them away with a laser. So why haven't we done it already, if plasma ionization has proven to scatter the building blocks of our climate crisis?...

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