Thursday, January 15, 2009

Scheme to Cool the Earth with Sunlight Reflecting Crops

Forget about increasing the reflection of sunlight to slow global warming by launching mirrors into space or dispersing sulfur particles into the atmosphere, all that is required is to replace standard crops such as wheat and barley with varieties that are more light reflective. At least that is what Andy Ridgewell from the University of Bristol claims. The Guardian reports that Ridgewell and a team of researchers used climate modeling to determine the effects of planting different crop varieties on global temperature. The scientists found that simply by planting the most reflective variety a cooling of 0.1C would be obtained. Projections of greater cooling in the future would be based on developing even more reflective varieties. Ridgewell points out that there would not have to be any change in the type of crops or amounts of crops, the only change would be that crops would reflect more light. It seems hard to believe that the solution to the global warming problem could be as simple as planting different varieties of wheat, barley, and corn. Perhaps it is too simple but at least if this scheme fails people will be well fed.

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