Idea #8: Keep global temperatures low with noise-cancelling headphones


To understand this idea, you’ll need to wrap your head around how noise-canceling headphones work. Before continuing, read this article.

Premise: One can choose whether to believe it or not, but the planet’s temperatures may be rising. There’s evidence on both sides, and I’m not going to reveal which one I’m on, but this idea operates assuming that global warming is a problem.

The Concept: Though it’s more complex than a sound wave (there are photons involved as well), light is an electromagnetic wave, the keyword there being wave. To my knowledge, any wave can be canceled or reduced with an opposite wave, just as how -2+2=0.

So why not apply that to global warming? The sun’s infrared rays (which “carry” the most heat) are waves of light. My proposal is to use the same principle behind noise-canceling headphones. First, a light detector estimates the shape of incoming rays of infrared light. It then sends that estimate to a machine that generates rays in the opposite direction , with shapes that negate the incoming waves’ forms. That makes the resultant infrared waves equal to zero. Zero infrared light means close to zero incoming heat from the sun, which means that temperatures either stay at their current levels or drop. If it works, this idea has the functionality of a giant thermostat. However, the approach is a bit different in that it treats infrared waves and not the air itself.

The Pros:

  • This technology may be a big step towards blocking global warming’s effects.
  • The technology can be scalable in size. Large and small versions should exist in a way analogous to how water towers and water pitchers exist. Both governments concerned about high temperatures and people looking to cool off can use this.
  • Once in place, this requires very little human effort to maintain.
  • Unlike other proposed solutions, this is something that takes effect almost immediately and can be switched off if there are negative effects.
  • Even if global warming doesn’t exist, this can still be useful for large events in warm areas, where keeping cool is an objective for the short time the event takes.
    • If global warming does exist but people are skeptical about this solution, selling models that operate as described above may turn public opinion.

The Cons:

  • I’m only basing this idea on the things I’ve learned in a few years of science classes, meaning that this concept may not be viable if, for example, light waves can’t be cancelled.
  • I assume that the solution could be expensive to develop, as methods of predicting light and a device that generates light in the way required have not been made.
  • It will only work for the world if there is a large enough number of machines in operation.
    • For the idea to work on a large scale, thousands (or more) of these must be installed. I’m talking about things that might be as large as a football field in some cases, so they might become obtrusive if this is the case.
  • Some people will probably regard this as an ineffective solution that just delays the inevitable. Getting support for the idea may be difficult.
  • In operating machines like this, we may affect ecosystems that rely on infrared light or the land taken up by the machines.
  • To cancel an incoming wave, the device must know what that wave will look like before it can generate one to counter it. Given that light travels faster than anything we’ve made so far, the technology will only work if light waves are predictable.
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