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Reflective Plants Could Cool The Earth

Scientists at the University of Bristol in England have come up with an idea they say could cool the planet by 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer: reflective plants. As opposed to large-scale engineering projects that have been proposed to achieve this in the past, planting more reflective crops would take advantage of a global system already in place (agriculture) and its potential can be proved in less risky and expensive ways than say, a huge sunshade erected in space.

The scientists are not proposing changes in which crops are planted since shifts could cause major disruptions in available food and to the land they're planted on. They suggest instead that existing crops be bred or genetically engineered to be more reflective by changing the waxiness and arrangement of their leaves, among other things.

The plan isn't foolproof obviously. The cooling would only occur in areas with large amounts of arable land, meaning central North America and a band across Europe and Asia would see cooling effects, while the Southern hemisphere would see far less benefits. The other drawback is the time it would take to engineer crops for reflectivity and then to implement the new versions globally.

I think it's a more realistic idea for global cooling than others that have been suggested, but it's still not a real solution. I'm not completely discounting it. I'm sure some good could come from planting crops in a more thoughtful way, but I'm still convinced that the only way to really turn this crisis around is through a major reduction in the use of fossil fuels and a dramatic change in how we use energy. Ideas like this excite me because they prove how inventive we can be, but I'm not sure there will ever be an easy solution.

via NY Times

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Comments (5)Add Comment
Another idea
written by Sean, January 21, 2009
I saw another article, not sure if it was here or elsewhere, describing that if the five largest-area cities of the order levitra canada world were to paint their roofs white, it would be enough to do cheap generic viagra india something like this article described. I'm just really uncomfortable messing with Nature when Nature has figured things out already.
written by Corban, January 21, 2009
Plant temperatures are almost the same as the surrounding temperature because the vast majority of we use it purchase levitra soft tabs solar energy is absorbed by chlorophylls. It's not like they totally convert light into heat like black asphalt.

If plants reflect light, that means they're not absorbing light...which means this technique should not be used on crops.
hmm, ok
written by Judas Gutenberg, January 22, 2009
Let me get this straight - we jack up the carbon dioxide on earth with fossil fuel consumption. We take over the surface of earth with crop cultivation. We change crops to make them more reflective. Here is where unforseen consequences kick in:

1. crops produce less food since they now also photosynthesize less
2. thus less carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere
3. also famines sweep the planet
4. due to famine-induced depopulation, less fossil fuels are burned and pharmacy canada viagra thus less is added to the atmosphere
5. victory!
written by VSARMY Rep, January 25, 2009
Sounds like the 70's when scientists wanted to increase global world temp by dumping waste into the artics another crazy idea that would have crazy results and would cause problems.

Because they feared a global cooling oh whats that you don't remeber it well thats the case they don't want you to know about that.

The idea we can fix the world temp by doing these supposed fixes are just a Pipe Dream or in some cases have consequences

Yeah, right.
written by John Rowell, January 25, 2009
Guess I should be feeling guilty now that I know my dark-colored solar panels are contributing to global warming. Yeah, right. Light-colored plants, that's gotta be the silliest notion I've heard this week.

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