Silicon Valley to ‘Brighten’ Clouds to Fight Climate Change

Thundercloud (Karen Bleier / AFP / Getty)
Karen Bleier / AFP / Getty

Scientists in Silicon Valley have designed a controversial device that could help manipulate the climate by “brightening” clouds in order to counter the effects of global warming in a process known as geoengineering.

According to the local CBS News affiliate in San Francisco, the Marine Cloud Brightening Project, located in Sunnyvale, is designed to fight global warming by artificially thickening clouds over the ocean, using a high-pressure nozzle that sprays a foggy salt water mist over them, and makes them brighter so they reflect more sunlight away from earth in order to keep the planet cool.


Jack Foster, 79, a physicist and laser pioneer who is one of the lead scientists of the project, told the San Jose Mercury News last month that while they are actively seeking an “insurance policy for global warming,” and that they “are not interested in deploying it unless it’s necessary. But we’d like to have something available, so we know what works and what doesn’t work.”

CBS notes that the project is seen as a last resort for global warming.

Critics of geoengineering have expressed concern over the interventionist practice, suggesting there could be long-term issues, yet to be realized, when nature’s patterns are altered.

Stephen Gardiner, a University of Washington philosophy professor who studies the ethics of environmental policies told the Mercury News that the practice of “[g]eoengineering raises huge ethical and political questions, nationally and internationally.”

The project appears to be several years away, however, and CBS notes that it will require millions of dollars to fund it before its ready for widespread use.

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