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December 2, 2011 at 11:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Paint Your Roof, Save (or Destroy) the Planet

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This Author

When you think about the steps needed to combat climate change, you probably think about things like cutting back on carbon emissions and finding more sustainable forms of energy.

But what about painting your roof white, spraying sulfur dioxide into the air, and planting light-colored crops?

It may sound strange, but a new report indicated Thursday that those steps could have a huge impact. It's called geoengineering, and its goal is to artificially cool the earth to fight against global warming.

The theory goes: if you reflect even a small amount of sunlight back into space before it hits the Earth's surface, you would prevent the heat from being absorbed, cooling temperatures on a global scale. Furthermore, releasing millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere would have the same effect as a volcanic eruption - namely, cooling  Earth by .9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Standards would have to be agreed upon throughout the world, but these changes could work so well that global temperatures would return to their pre-Industrial-Revolution levels within a mere few years.

The not-so-fine-print?

Making these changes has the potential to be catastrophic, because:

It would be a logistical nightmare to implement. Changes would have to be made worldwide. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but who would make the decisions? How many people would be affected? These are questions we simply don't have answers to yet.

It would have to be sustained indefinitely. If the changes were made, there would be no turning back for a while. Stopping suddenly would leave us worse off than we started by causing even more rapid climate changes.

It could drastically alter weather patterns and agriculture. Oh, yeah - this minor detail. It could affect weather patterns and rainfall, significantly impacting agriculture, and therefore, our global food supply. So...there's that.

Pretty much all the experts agree (as does yours truly) that although this is a promising thought that definitely merits more research, it's no substitute for reducing carbon emissions.

So don't rush out to the hardware store to buy white paint...yet.


What do you think?

Is this totally crazy, or a revolutionary breakthrough?



Huffington Post: U.N. Climate Conference: Geoengineering Could Save Earth -- Or Destroy It

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  • I think it has the potential to be a good idea, but I'd like to see a comparison between this plan and two others: covering surfaces with solar panels to absorb the sunlight and use it as energy, and/or planting extra trees to help reduce greenhouse gases and use plants for green roofing (where possible). Even if each had the potential to diminish the same amount of heat, solar panels and green landscaping both have additional benefits that you might not necessarily get with paint and sulfur dioxide.

  • I agree with dave. It seems more productive to be turning the sunlight into energy that we can use instead of energy produced by burning things. Also the planting of more trees and stuff seems like it would expedite the process. That being said I think global warming is fake, and with that being said I look out the window on december 19th and its above freezing. Ahh

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