At MEER, our mission is to provide practical and scalable heat adaptation and mitigation solutions. Our materials feature a passive cooling system that promotes the health and well-being of people, farms, and animals while reducing global temperatures.
MEER (Mirrors for Earth's Energy Rebalancing) is a nonprofit organization that aims to reduce local and global temperatures. Although the harmful effects of heat and the increasing warming trend have been well-publicized, the potential warming path has not been fully realized. Specifically, the eventual elimination of aerosols from coal plants and ships is necessary, but these aerosols have been providing some cooling by reflecting light to space. Removing these aerosols will result in additional warming, potentially leading to a temperature increase of over 1.2℃, which will be added to the already locked-in warming of 2-3℃. The likely path is to have temperatures increase over 3-4℃. MEER was established to combat these catastrophic scenarios by keeping heat out now while we work towards decarbonization.
Our priority is to address the pressing issue of climate change by restoring the Earth's energy balance by the end of the century. To achieve this goal, we rely on meticulous and comprehensive research to understand the impact of Surface Reflection Technology (SRT). We approach this with caution and only move forward if the data shows a viable and secure path. We understand the urgency of the situation, but we can only move as fast as our research allows. To expedite the process of scaling up SRT, we collaborate with renowned universities and organizations worldwide. We welcome feedback and accountability from the global community as we embark on this significant journey. MEER is committed to creating a better world where everyone has the opportunity to flourish. Our ultimate goal is to promote the well-being of both the planet and the people we serve, prioritizing their needs over any financial interests.
Our vision is for communities to take on the responsibility of preserving and stabilizing the natural world and its ecosystems. To achieve this, we need to be acutely aware of our interconnectedness with other living beings, understand our planet's complex and delicate climate system, and deeply respect the finite nature of the abiotic resources that sustain us. To further this aim, we must also utilize cutting-edge fabrication technologies that can transform our methods of production and consumption. By working together towards this end, we can create a future that is both secure and sustainable for ourselves and all the other creatures that inhabit this magnificent planet alongside us.
Through years of observation, theory development, and model building, scientists have gained a deep understanding of the Earth's climate system. It is now widely accepted that human activity, specifically greenhouse gas emissions, is causing climate change.
The Earth is experiencing a significant positive energy imbalance. This imbalance is storing 400 Terawatts of heat in the ocean and atmosphere, which is twenty times more than the energy used by human civilization. This has caused a warming trend known as global warming or anthropogenic climate change. Many researchers and the general public are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential for extreme weather events, heat strokes, droughts, crop failures, internal displacement, and ecosystem collapse. This phenomenon could cause widespread suffering within the lifetimes of most of the Earth's human population. We can confidently say that the impacts of climate change are already being felt and will only continue to worsen in the future.
Heat is the greatest threat
The adverse effects of climate change pose a significant danger to human health, particularly in regions where high temperatures and humidity prevail. Individuals residing in such areas without proper access to air conditioning are at an increased risk of developing hyperthermia, a condition that can prove fatal in severe cases. As temperatures increase, growing food and retaining freshwater become challenging, resulting in harsher living and weather conditions.
Unfortunately, a considerable percentage of the population inhabiting the Global South lacks access to electricity, making them more susceptible to the extreme heat effects caused by global heating. Furthermore, the urban heat island effect is exacerbating the health hazards associated with elevated temperatures for city dwellers, who are growing in numbers at an unprecedented rate.
Access to cooling is a fundamental necessity and a human right, particularly for those residing in exceedingly hot environments. MEER Cooling presents a sustainable solution that safeguards the environment while promoting individuals' welfare.
Development of MEER
In 2018, Dr. Ye Tao was in charge of a laboratory at the prestigious Rowland Institute at Harvard University. After hearing a proposal talk about tackling the climate crisis with phytoplankton, he began to reflect on the significance of his work in nanoscience and whether it would deliver the type of impact the world urgently needed.
His professional journey took a significant turn when he became acutely aware of the dire consequences of excess carbon in Earth's atmosphere. Driven by his passion for environmental conservation, he founded MEER (Mirrors for Earth's Energy Rebalancing) - an organization dedicated to developing nontoxic surface-based reflectors that can redirect solar radiation back into space. By doing so, MEER aims to counterbalance the greenhouse gas effect caused by carbon dioxide emissions and preserve life on Earth. In 2021, Dr. Tao decided to suspend nanoscience research in academia to concentrate on devising innovative solutions that prioritize the preservation of human habitat.
Organizations had not yet developed surface modification technology nor conducted large-scale experiments to assess the feasibility of adaptation and mitigation. MEER was established to address this knowledge gap by performing the necessary field research.
Presently, MEER is comprised of an international team of experts, including scientists, engineers, volunteers, project managers, students, and supporters. Our collaborative network is committed to critically advancing climate mitigation and adaptation efforts with a renewed and unwavering sense of purpose.
MEER has recently developed a state-of-the-art surface-based mirror array technology. This cutting-edge technology utilizes aluminum as the primary reflector, which is applied to PET plastic. The result is a highly-efficient mirror array with an albedo above 0.85. This feature makes MEER mirrors an ideal solution for various applications, including reducing urban heat, evaporation in farms, and water evaporation from reservoirs.
The MEER mirror arrays are not only highly effective, but they are also environmentally friendly. They can be fully produced from recycled materials, which minimizes the harm caused to the environment. The materials are readily available without the need for any new technology. MEER mirrors have strong local applications, but they also have the potential to make a global impact. At scale, they can reduce global temperatures by up to 2ºC, making them a key tool for combating global warming.
The climate crisis is particularly unjust because those who are least responsible for it suffer the most. Lower-income communities worldwide, especially in the Global South, are being hit the hardest by its worst effects. This is a clear injustice that needs to be addressed.
To effectively address climate change, fairness and equality must be prioritized. MEER has implemented a justice-focused strategy to collaborate with communities in the Global South and empower local individuals to take active and often central roles in developing our initiatives.
To promote fairness and reduce inequality, MEER makes sure to keep local communities informed throughout every stage of a project. This involves conducting surveys, holding community-wide meetings, and obtaining community approval before beginning any project. Additionally, MEER provides educational workshops to stakeholders to better explain the scientific principles behind our methods.
At MEER, we hire people to engage with the community and employ skilled workers and students from the area to help us manage research experiments. We also offer internships that teach advanced scientific techniques to local students, and we prioritize job opportunities for individuals from vulnerable social groups, including those with disabilities.
We aim to promote society's comprehension of passive cooling using surface reflection technology (SRT) and provide a platform for under-served individuals to express their opinions. Unfortunately, there is a lack of social science research on people's perceptions of albedo enhancement, despite the disproportionate impact of climate risks on these regions. Our organization, MEER, aims to bridge this gap by including the perspectives of underrepresented communities in the peer-reviewed literature.
Our goal is to advance the study of surface albedo modification to understand the adaptation benefits and climate impacts of its widespread implementation. Local responses are diverse in different geographical locations and specific applications. We are currently conducting field experiments across various locations in the United States, Africa, and India. We will steadily publish the data in peer-reviewed journals, with thorough analyses and modelling support, to enable the development of a comprehensive plan and integrated model for deploying solar reflectors that can be used for both local adaptation and global mitigation.
At MEER, we understand the importance of balancing Earth's energy while respecting the limited time, energy, and material resources available. It's essential to consider the aerosol pollution in the northern hemisphere, which reduces global warming by reflecting sunlight back into space. If aerosol emissions were to suddenly fall, this temporary reduction, known as "global dimming," could disappear within a few months, leaving the Earth fully vulnerable to the suffocating heat of the global greenhouse.
MEER's strategy is unique in that it relies solely on recycled materials. The mirrors used in MEER are made of recycled materials such as aluminum, which is sourced from discarded cans, and plastic. This means there is no need to extract new materials from the Earth or manufacture new ones. There is already a surplus of aluminum and plastic that is discarded every year, which can be utilized to construct MEER mirrors worldwide. Unlike white paint that contains petrochemicals and harms the environment, MEER mirrors are made without petrochemicals. They are also less expensive to produce, with a current cost of $8 per m2 that we anticipate will decrease to below $1 per m2. Furthermore, MEER mirrors require less maintenance as they can last for decades without renewing. Rain and wind can clear most dust and debris from the mirrors, and occasional sweeping is sufficient to maintain them.
In order to successfully accomplish our objectives, it is of utmost importance to engage in extensive collaboration. We maintain close working relationships with the worldwide scientific community, with the intention of publishing peer-reviewed research that tackles critical issues. Furthermore, we form partnerships with local communities, governments, NGOs, academic institutions, and foundations to further our efforts and share knowledge. Our ultimate objective is to guarantee that our endeavours are deployed worldwide in a secure and responsible manner.
"Temperature rise: this is the biggest and gravest concern we face."