Speed Reads

Lightly dusted

Could moon dust be used to bring down Earth's temperatures?

Would dust from the moon help combat climate change?

That's what a group of scientists proposed in a study published Wednesday. The research found that dust from the moon could serve as a barrier between the Earth and the sun, potentially reducing the amount of sunlight by 1 to 2 percent or 6 days worth per year, reports The Washington Post. As a result, the planet's temperature could be brought down from the outside.

The idea is still primarily conceptual as it would require a lot of new technology to be implemented feasibly, but "it is amazing to contemplate how moon dust — which took over four billion years to generate — might help slow the rise in the Earth's temperature, a problem that took us less than 300 years to produce," remarked study co-author Scott Kenyon of the Center for Astrophysics. 

Along with the technology, there are also logistical issues to consider. The dust needs to be deposited in exactly the right place and would need to be replenished every few days, reports The Independent. Stuart Haszeldine from the University of Edinburgh describes it as "like trying to balance marbles on a football." The other issue is the sheer amount needed each time to be effective: 10 billion kilograms (22 billion pounds) of dust, the Post continues.

Strides should still be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the study's lead author Ben Bromley. "Our idea is one — and it's a very, very intensive one — to contribute to climate change mitigation, if we need more time here at home." Other scientists view the proposal as a distraction from tackling the issues on Earth.

"Perhaps the main problem," said Joanna Haigh, emeritus professor of atmospheric physics at Imperial College London, "is the suggestion that implementation of such schemes will solve the climate crisis whereas it just gives the polluters an excuse not to act."