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Surprising Science

Bill Gates Backing Geoengineering Projects

A handful of philanthropic billionaires, including Gates, are funding private research efforts into a 'Plan B' for climate change, should the UN and politicians fail to arrive at a solution.

What’s the Latest Development?

Hedging their bets against politicians and a United Nations which seem incapable of finding solutions to climate change, a handful of philanthropic billionaires are funding private geoengineering projects which seek to manipulate the Earth’s climate on a global scale. Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Canadian tar sands magnate Murray Edwards and Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström are donating millions of dollars annually to companies which hold patents over geoengineering technology, filling in for a lack of government funding.

What’s the Big Idea?

Geoengineering projects are on the cutting edge of climate science and remain deeply controversial. One area of research examines spraying millions of tons of reflective particles of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere, intending to reflect solar radiation away from the planet in order to cool it. Activists are concerned that companies who hold intellectual property rights over geoengineering technology stand to make massive profits while delaying emission reduction strategies and permanently changing the climate in unpredictable ways.

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