Could “Shiny Crops” Cool the Planet?

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At a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco last month, a group of experts from the University of California, Irvine, put forth an idea to reduce the planet’s albedo (the amount of sunlight that the surface absorbs): plant millions of “shiny plants” around the world. The leaves of these reflective plants “could send more of the sun’s heat back into space, and even reverse temperature rises in parts of the world. Encouraging farmers to grow shinier crops could reduce maximum daytime temperatures in agricultural regions by as much as 1.9C….Plant breeders have already created an extra-hairy variety of soya bean to fight pests, which reflects about 5% more sunlight than normal, they said.” The UK’s Guardian article is available here.

At this same meeting other experts suggested a series of terraforming and geoengineering plans to cool the planet, from seeding the oceans with iron to increase plankton growth to vast orbiting reflectors and sunshades.

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