What do you think? Is this a good premise for a short story? Is it believable or science fiction?
The story opens with the population on planet Ragstone worried their planet is getting too warm to support life. For millions of years, the temperature had risen and fallen, at times being completely tropical and other times being gripped by an ice age with thick ice across the land.
The climate on this planet is constantly changing. Core samples taken at various locations reveal that sometimes it’s warmer than it is right now, and sometimes it’s colder. Still life goes on. The humans on this planet have been around in their current form for more than 200,000 years. That’s a pretty long time, and they’ve survived the heat and the cold because humans adapt. It’s one of the things they excel at. The weak succumb, but the strong adapt and thrive.
Most people on Ragstone don’t know about the planet’s climate history; they just believe without questioning those making claims the temperature is rising and all life is at risk.
Along comes a man, who is known for his intelligence but not his wisdom. He’s a geek and has been bullied in his early years because, let’s be honest, he’s weird. Let’s call him Will.
Will has turned his geekiness into a multi-million dollar company that deals in high-tech equipment, and he has gained influence with people who control planet Ragstone. These people, knowing Will is pretty smart, listen when he claims he can save the planet before it gets too hot. All he has to do is block out the sun.
Wait. I know. This sounds kinda weird, if not dangerous. But Will has a plan. He’s developed sun-dimming technology, and just like how we can dim the lights in the room of a house, he can dim the light reaching the planet’s surface from the sun.
Not to get too specific, but Will’s invention aims to spray a solution of non-toxic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dust into the atmosphere to reflect the sunlight, which also reflects heat. Amazing, right?
I mean, not everyone on Ragstone knows about this, and most probably wouldn’t agree with Will or anyone else tampering with the ecological system of the planet and pissing off Mother Nature, but…who cares. The message is the planet is getting too hot to live on…in some regions, so something must be done because this naturally-occurring event can’t be allowed to happen.
An un-elected world forum gives Will the go-ahead for Project Cooling. Will runs the first experiment, and everything works great, just ignore the fringe data that suggests something whacky happened over certain areas of the planet. Providing the glowing report with bias data, Will is given the green light to proceed.
Bam! A large spray operation across the planet takes place and within a week, the average temperature drops by 0.3 degrees Celsius. In the second week, it drops by another 0.5 degrees. Then things really heat up; I mean, cool down. Countries in the Northern Hemisphere that are enjoying summer get snow instead of rain. Crops are destroyed, and people scramble to secure food from other areas.
Someone remembers the year without a summer, but they hadn’t heard about this in history class. They read it somewhere in an obscure genealogy book. They relate the story about a major volcano exploding and sending all sorts of debris into the atmosphere and blocking out the sun. That was in April 1815, if their memory serves them correctly. The following year proved to be challenging as summer arrived, then quickly disappeared many times. Snow in July, people freezing to death in August and crop failures all around. Starvation, riots and death plagued society.
No one pays any attention to this memory because this person said they had read it in a book, and they all know you can’t trust anything written in a book.
Planet Ragstone continues to cool and the population demands Project Cooling be stopped immediately. Will tries to end the project, but he cannot clear the atmosphere of calcium carbonate, and the temperature continues to drop until much of the land in the upper and lower hemispheres is covered in ice and snow. Millions perish. The only livable habitat is 500 miles on either side of the equator. The planet endures an ice age that doesn’t end until fragments of a comet blast into the massive ice shield and creates massive floods, wiping out remaining life.
For further reading on this topic, check out this article: A Bill Gates Venture Aims To Spray Dust Into The Atmosphere To Block The Sun. What Could Go Wrong?