Evalutating the Cost-Effectiveness and Productivity of Geoengineering Methods

By: Abhijith S., Neil D., Shrey M.
Year: 2024
School: Venado Middle School
Grade: 8
Science Teacher: Eugene Hahn

In the quest to combat global warming, geoengineering presents promising methods for reflecting heat radiation away from Earth. The project conducted by Neil, Shrey and Abhijith aimed to determine which of the two solar geoengineering methods, space mirroring or stratospheric aerosol injection (S.A.I.), was more cost-effective and productive.

The core objective was to compare the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of space mirroring and S.A.I. in reflecting heat radiation. To achieve this, a controlled environment was created, simulating Earth’s conditions using water and black foam to represent land and ocean surfaces, with a heat lamp acting as the Sun.

Three tests were conducted: the control system, the space mirroring system, and the S.A.I. system. For the space mirroring test, mirrors were used to reflect the heat, while in the S.A.I. test, sunscreen was applied to mimic aerosols in the atmosphere. Temperatures of the land, water, and air within the model were recorded before and after running the heat lamp for one hour.

The data showed that both geoengineering methods were effective in reducing temperature increases compared to the control. The average temperature increase for both the space mirroring and S.A.I. systems was 4°F, significantly lower than the control system’s increase of approximately 7°F. This indicated that both methods were successful in reflecting heat radiation.

While the temperature reduction was similar for both methods, cost-effectiveness became the deciding factor. Through extensive research, it was found that stratospheric aerosol injection was less expensive than space mirroring. Space mirroring would require immense mirrors, each needing its own satellite in space, making it a costly endeavor. In contrast, S.A.I., involving the dispersal of reflective aerosols, proved to be more economically viable.

The project also acknowledged factors that could influence the accuracy of the results. The placement of mirrors in the space mirroring test and the application method of sunscreen in the S.A.I. test were noted as variables that could potentially alter outcomes. Future experiments could refine these setups to enhance accuracy.

Furthermore, combining various geoengineering methods and testing their impacts on a simulated environment could provide a comprehensive understanding of their effects on Earth’s ecosystem. Such models would help predict potential negative effects and devise mitigation strategies.