A rogue geoengineering startup sparks worry

Make Sunsets is sending balloons filled with sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. Is it performance art — or a new era for geoengineering?

On The Carbon Copy podcast this week:

A few weeks ago, Time staff writer Alejandro de la Garza found himself on the floor of a hotel room in Nevada with two guys trying to cook sulfur dioxide out of a tin can. 

Luke Iseman and Andrew Song are the co-founders of Make Sunsets, a startup claiming to be implementing solar geoengineering by launching weather balloons filled with SO2 into the stratosphere.

Their first experimental launch in the Mexican state of Baja California resulted in a swift regulatory response from the Mexican government. But when they ran another test launch a few weeks ago just outside of Reno, Nevada, Luke invited Alejandro to join them. 

This week, we speak with Alejandro about his Time profile of the controversial startup. Plus, we talk with geoengineering experts Holly Buck and Kevin Surprise.

Any single person you talk to in solar geoengineering research, whether they’re bullish or against it, they all think that what Make Sunsets is doing is a bad idea,” explains Alejandro.

Make Sunsets represents a turning point for the field of geoengineering, with rogue actors pushing the field from academic debate into the real world. Is the company’s recent balloon launch an act of performance art — or an open door to an uncontrolled climate experiment?

Come watch a live episode of The Carbon Copy! Canary Media and Post Script Media are hosting a live event at Greentown Labs in Somerville, Mass. on April 6. We’ll record a live episode of The Carbon Copy with some very special guests. Get your tickets today.

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