Amazon's Cloud Is Secretly Computing How to Block the Sun

Say what you must, but it could be our last resort.
Ameya Paleja
The photo credit line may appear like thisgabort71/iStock

It might seem that Jeff Bezos' Amazon is leading our way to doom. Gizmodo reported that the company's cloud infrastructure is being used to compute various scenarios that could possibly play out if the Sun were blocked out. However, it isn't Bezos who is planning to do this but the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). 

The very thought of blocking out the Sun brings flashes from The Matrix where the skies are dark but machines rule over humanity. However, the scenario being worked over here is not as sinister and definitely won't counter the rise of machines or artificial intelligence. Termed solar radiation management, this could be the last resort to cool down the Earth if global warming continues unabated and we fail to take sufficient steps to rein it in control. 

This method of cooling down the Earth has been a controversial topic among scientists as there is no reliable data, empirical or experimental, that can help us understand the full impact of such a step. The only way to estimate it is to use supercomputers that can run these scenarios and provide us with likely outcomes.

As Gizmodo reported, some of the top 500 supercomputers in the world are housed at climate research facilities, which run different models on what the planet will look like in the future. However, setting up a supercomputer is not only an expensive process but is also a time-consuming one. What Amazon offers is the strength of its infrastructure to carry out these massive calculations.

The project is being carried out for the National Center for Atmospheric Research where Amazon's cloud is running 30 different scenarios using NCAR's data to model the Earth between 2035 and 2070, some of which also include blocking out the Sun, albeit partially. 

As Gizmodo states, this approach offers many advantages to researchers working on climate models. It takes away the need to invest time in setting up supercomputers while also making them accessible to anyone, in practically any part of the globe. Datasets could be stored on the cloud and then integrated into models as needed, while the model itself could be made more accessible to policymakers and people at large.

Kelly Wanser, the executive director of SilverLining, a non-profit organization working on measures to counter global warming told Gizmodo that cloud computing had become sophisticated enough to take up workloads that were reserved for supercomputers. The question now is, what more can it do?

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