Shooting aerosols into the atmosphere to block the sun and thus cool the planet could have major impacts on the prevalence of Malaria, new research shows. The study, published Wednesday in Nature Communications, found using geoengineering to cool the planet could increase the spread of malaria in West Africa, parts of South Asia, and the Amazon basin, but could reduce risks in cooler areas in East Africa and on the Indian subcontinent. Deploying emergency geoengineering measures to stave off the devastating effects of the continued extraction and combustion of fossil fuels is controversial because its impacts are complicated and unknown and because it could diminish the urgency of getting off fossil fuels.

“It’s a nice thought but one of the key ideas — that it actually saves lives — hasn’t been tested nearly as much as it should be,” Colin Carlson, the study’s lead author, told Gizmodo. Cutting fossil fuel pollution, however, he told Thomson Reuters, should be a “moral imperative, and will save lives no matter what.” (Gizmodo, Thomson Reuters Foundation, The Guardian)