A new study by a team of scientists at Harvard has sparked an uproar among members of the chemtrail conspiracy theory movement. According to conspiracy theorists, the study, which concluded that aerosol "chemtrails" could be used for "solar geoengineering" to reverse global warming without ozone layer depletion, proves that what has been dismissively termed conspiracy theory is real.
In the study, titled "Stratospheric solar geoengineering without ozone loss," published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) explained that previous geoengineering proposals to mimic the cooling effect of major volcanic eruptions by releasing light-reflecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere also involve the risk of further damage to the ozone layer due to the production of sulfuric acid from sulfur dioxide.
The ozone layer, according to experts, protects us from harmful ultra-violet radiation,
However, the team claimed to have found that aerosol containing calcite could be used in solar engineering to cool the Earth's atmosphere and thus slow down or reverse global warming while neutralizing atmospheric acidity that damages the ozone layer.
"In solar geoengineering research, introducing sulfuric acid into the atmosphere has been the only idea that had any serious traction until now," said study leader David Keith, the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at SEAS, and professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, according to the Harvard Gazette.
"This research is a turning point and an important step in analyzing and reducing certain risks of solar geoengineering."
Previous research to limit the ozone damaging effect of geoengineering aerosols had focused on non-reactive aerosols. However, according to study co-author Frank Keutsch, the Stonington Professor of Engineering and Atmospheric Science at SEAS, the new study focused on finding suitable highly-reactive materials that would not damage the ozone layer.
"Instead of trying to minimize the reactivity of the aerosol, we wanted a material that is highly reactive but in a way that would avoid ozone destruction," Keutsch said, according to the Harvard Gazette.
"Essentially, we ended up with an antacid for the stratosphere."
The researchers found that calcite, a stable form of calcium carbonate contained in limestone, could reflect light and thus cool the planet while neutralizing atmospheric acidity that depletes the ozone layer.
However, the researchers emphasized that the best way to control global warming and climate change was by reducing human carbon emissions. According to the researchers, geoengineering only treats the symptoms, not the cause of the problem.
"Geoengineering is like taking painkillers," Keutsch said, according to the Harvard Gazette. "When things are really bad, painkillers can help but they don't address the cause of a disease and they may cause more harm than good."
"We really don't know the effects of geoengineering, but that is why we're doing this research."
But the latest research has set tongues wagging in the chemtrail conspiracy theory community.
"Get ready for the skies becoming even more bizarre than usual with the announcement that chemtrails could be used to save the planet!" a blogger declared.