At the end of 2022, climate startup Make Sunsets announced it had launched two payloads of reflective sulfur into the New Mexico sky as proof of concept for its planet-cooling technology. By filling the sky with sun-reflective sulfur, the company hopes to attack climate change directly by simply reducing the world’s temperature — and it’s hoping to make a fortune in the process by selling carbon credits to greenhouse gas emitters.
But because blocking out the sun would produce catastrophic consequences for food and energy production and even human health, these credits would have to include both the “cost” of each ton of carbon dioxide offset by the sulfur and the negative effects of less sunlight reaching the Earth. Once accounting for the damage from blocking our sun, it’s likely Make Sunrise’s credits are worth less than zero and are a net liability for humanity that could, if scaled, cause significant damage to our planet.
To prevent financial fraud and ecological catastrophe, including acid rain, the Biden administration must take immediate action to shut the company’s operations down for good.
In the meantime, however, Make Sunset’s business model has an unexpected silver lining. By so destructively following the logic of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing to its conclusion — cutting carbon dioxide at any economic or environmental cost while massively undercutting the cost of every competitor and reaping arbitrary carbon credits — Make Sunsets could herald the end of the ESG capital dumps. Perhaps investors will finally realize that pouring money into worthless projects while global supply-demand imbalances grow is a bad idea.
Founded in October 2022 after its first two sulfur launches, Make Sunsets is the brainchild of Luke Iseman, a former director of hardware for famed technology accelerator Y Combinator. After reading science fiction novel “Termination Shock,” in which a billionaire shoots sulfur into the sky, Iseman realized he could turn a profit by cooling the planet.
When interviewed by The Washington Post on why he moved forward with the project, Iseman said, “Every day that we don’t inject sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere as responsibly as the state of the science will let us and as much as we can economically, species are needlessly going extinct and people are dying.”
Destroying Carbon Credit Market
Sulfur dioxide is cheap. So cheap, in fact, that selling carbon offset credits for just $10 per ton, Iseman very well could destroy the intended purpose of the carbon credit market, where state-certified credits range from $25 to $35 per ton for California’s program to $65 to $95 for the European Union’s program. In this market, the hypothetical value of carbon credits is derived from offsetting the claimed damage to the world from each ton of carbon dioxide. Carbon credits are typically generated by creating energy with a lower carbon dioxide output than that from burning fossil fuels.
By throwing cheap sulfur in the air to negate the temperature increases from carbon dioxide without any of the costly solar, hydrogen, or battery infrastructure usually required to generate normal carbon credits, Iseman could invalidate the financial logic behind “green” energy investments and save us all from the economic and environmental catastrophe of ESG investing.
Problems with ‘Clean Energy’
Windmills promise to provide clean, renewable energy, but their unrecyclable blades are quickly piling up in municipal landfills like giants’ bones. The same goes for solar panels, which are labeled by governments as “hazardous waste.” As they rapidly improve in quality and lower in price, buying new panels and throwing out the old ones is more economical than continuing to use older equipment — even if they’re still functional. In fact, solar waste is so bad that used panels sitting in landfills could physically outweigh in-use panels more than twice over by 2035.
Meanwhile, electric vehicles (EVs) produce more carbon dioxide emissions in their production and dismantling than gas cars. The assumption is that electric cars make up the difference in their use, but that depends on how many people actually switch to EVs — not to mention the destruction to the environment from strip-mining for battery minerals, and what to do with 900-pound, extremely toxic dead batteries.
Windmills and EVs could never hope to compete with Make Sunsets’ $10 per ton carbon credits, which “could inspire people to buy them rather than cut emissions or remove CO2 from the atmosphere,” according to The Washington Post. Buying carbon indulgences was always a scam, but wasn’t limiting temperature increases always their point? If Make Sunsets puts everyone else out of business, that just means they are the best ESG scam out there.
Aside from the threat of damaging all life on our planet — for which the Biden administration, or any government under which Make Sunsets pursues operations, should immediately shut them down — Make Sunsets provides a curious counterpoint to costly, ineffective ESG “investments,” an achievement for which Iseman is deserving of, if not our praise, our respect.