Scientists have been searching for ways to curb climate change for decades. While we may not have the whole answer, these astrophysicists have presented an idea that might “buy us time.”

Launching dust into a location in space between the earth and the sun may be able to offset effects of climate change, according to research led by the Benjamin C. Bromley and Scott J. Kenyon.

“Our goal is to dim the sun by a little bit — a percent or two,” said Bromley, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utah.

That’s a small percentage, according to Kenyon, an astrophysicist at Harvard. “For perspective, the reduction in sunlight in Salt Lake City at noon from summer solstice to winter solstice is close to 50%.” However, it might be enough to reduce the earth’s temperature by one degree Fahrenheit.

The dust would be shot from either Earth or the moon to a spot called the Lagrange Point, or L1, where “stuff kind of lingers, owing to the combining force of gravity on the earth and the sun,” Bromley said. There, it would essentially deflect radiation from the sun so that less of it hits the earth.

This would require a lot of dust — more than 10 billion kilograms, the study says. But this is not more than is naturally available, according to Bromley. The Kennecott copper mine produces close to that kind of output daily.

The amount of dust wouldn’t be a problem if it came from the moon, either.

“You just have to basically bulldoze it, because it’s just sitting on the surface of the moon. So you don’t need to kind of dig it out or process it. It’s already there,” Bromley said.

Lunar dust and dust from the earth both have upsides and downsides, according to the researchers. The moon’s dust is readily available and the weaker gravitational pull would make it easy to launch, but building launch facilities on the moon requires considerable effort.

Dust from the earth, on the other hand, would require more production and kinetic energy to launch, but “we’re really experienced at moving things from the surface of our planet to other points in space,” as Bromley puts it.

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Shooting dust into the sky seems like it would be bad for the environment, but the study found no negative impacts in this realm. Bromley said this is because solar radiation would blow the dust away before it could reach the atmosphere.

“Depending on the orbit that you put them in, (the particles) really don’t persist for more than a few days or weeks,” he said. “And they then travel away from the point where they’re shading us and get carried off and dispersed throughout the solar system.”

Bromley emphasized that this method is not the solution to climate change.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us in terms of the main problem — the thing that we should never give up focus on — which is the reduction of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” he said.

But in the meantime, space dust may be a way to mitigate the issue.

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