'Whitewash' could slow global warming: Peruvian scientist

Nov 04, 2009
This undated file picture shows part of the Pastoruri snowcapped mountain in the central Peruvian Andes. A Peruvian scientist has called on his country to help slow the melting of Andean glaciers by daubing white paint on the rock and earth left behind by receding ice so they will absorb less heat.

A Peruvian scientist has called on his country to help slow the melting of Andean glaciers by daubing white paint on the rock and earth left behind by receding ice so they will absorb less heat.

Eduardo Gold, president of non-governmental organization of Peru, made the suggestion in a presentation Tuesday to the country's parliamentary commission on climate change.

His idea has already attracted interest from the World Bank, and is among a series of projects to counter climate change that the organization is considering, Gold told AFP.

"Little by little the glaciers are turning brown. The brown areas and rocks absorb more heat, speeding up the process of glacial melting. Our suggestion is to recreate the original white color and the conditions needed for recovery," Gold recently told official news agency Andina.

The phenomenon is known as "positive feedback": the more the glaciers disappear, the more earth there is to absorb radiant heat and reinforce .

Gold says the paint that would be used is environmentally friendly and made from a base of lime, without chemical components.

It could be made by local residents and could create some 15,000 jobs over five years, he added.

The idea of using white paint to combat climate change is not new. It has been proposed by US Energy Secretary and Nobel Physics Prize winner Steven Chu, as a way to use "geo-engineering" to lessen global warming.

While the idea has already been implemented in some places, including in New York, where some roofs have been painted white, Gold is the first person to propose applying the idea to something on the scale of glaciers.

The glaciers of the tropical Andes are particularly vulnerable to and have lost at least 30 percent of their surface over 30 years, according to some scientists. Others put the figure much higher.

Gold was invited to address Peruvian lawmakers after he was chosen as a finalist in a contest financed by the World Bank. The winner of the competition will be announced before the end of 2009.

(c) 2009 AFP

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User comments : 11

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magpies
3.3 / 5 (8) Nov 04, 2009
I dont think this sounds all that good honestly. Just let them melt if they are suppost to melt. Or they could try not cutting down trees and such...
ArtflDgr
3.5 / 5 (8) Nov 04, 2009
tune in the year after as green enviroweenies protest chemicals from paint all over the environment tainting a few generations of creatures. (of course their idea of save is stagnate)
LariAnn
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 04, 2009
IF global warming is actually driven primarily by solar activity, painting the rocks white won't do anything to change it.
carbohydratesociety
3.7 / 5 (6) Nov 04, 2009
I wonder how many tons of CO2 it will take to paint the rocks? My guess is way more than would be saved by painting.
NotAsleep
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 04, 2009
Well, the ORIGINAL color was molten-red, but that was more than 100 years ago so who cares?

15,000 jobs? Is there really nothing better for these people to be doing? I really hope this article is misleading and that most of those jobs are going towards painting manmade structures instead of rock
defunctdiety
4 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2009
the paint that would be used is environmentally friendly and made from a base of lime

Nothing like unnaturally leaching calcium oxide into your soil and ground water, making it unnaturally more basic, to act in an environmentally friendly manner. Not to mention CaO is a dehydrating agent and coagulant, depriving the soil of water and making it impossible for any natural biotic life to grow on it. Sweet. And of course assuming no acidic rains ever hit it (such as the kind created by lightening, geothermal and volcanic activity), it will never release it's own CO2 into the atmosphere. Brilliant, geoengineers, you can fix anything.
LKD
2 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2009
LariAnn,

That's a good point. How is global warming caused by CO2 if painting things white will reduce the melting? Since we all know that volcanoes have caused global cooling, why not just pollute the air and call it a day?

As Artful Dodger and Defunct Deity said, I wonder how many species and how much ground water needs to be poisoned before these 'scientists' use real science?
defunctdiety
5 / 5 (3) Nov 04, 2009
Do you have any rebuttal, barakn? You love to rank 1 star to those posts having a differing opinion than you, but you never have anything intelligent to say towards the contrary. Given that it does nothing to disprove our points, and does nothing to present a counter point, it is a good way to know when someone is being academically dishonest, and a good way to know when someone doesn't like hearing the truth. Sad.
jonnyboy
3 / 5 (5) Nov 04, 2009
defunctdiety,
I don't know about barakn but when I rank a comment one star it is to remove the ignorant comments from the discussion. Stop worry about what someone else rates your comment and keep on providing us your in-sites. You are usually worth reading unlike a lot of the people that comment here.
defunctdiety
5 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2009
I don't so much worry about the rankings, as even when I get a 1, I can assume I'm at least getting someone to think about an issue a little beyond what they might, if even just for the second it takes for them to disregard it. It's just barakn does it alot, on what are usually scientific and/or logically sound posts without ever presenting his own thoughts, and I guess I just feel the need to call him out on what I feel to be his academic dishonesty.

I love debating and having my own thoughts challenged, as I know I have my own biases, so ultimately I feel like I'm being robbed of a chance to test my own stance and I'm trying to provoke him to put words behind his essentially meaningless action.
Hunnter
not rated yet Nov 08, 2009
Isn't it law in some really hot countries that you have to paint your housing white so that it reflects most of the heat away?
I think this was mentioned on Grand Designs when a couple were building their retirement home in Spain, they wanted to paint it one colour but they were "disallowed".

Either way, this will probably just barely help.
It is going to happen just as it has previously happened.
The best solution will be to prepare for it, not prevent it.
Preventing it could end up being much worse than adapting to it...