Climate Change/Global Warming Can painting mountains white save glaciers?

Published on June 22nd, 2010 | by Jennifer Lance


Geoengineering: Peru Paints Mountain White to Save Glacier

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Painting the roses red
We’re painting the roses red
We dare not stop
Or waste a drop
So let the paint be spread
We’re painting the roses red
We’re painting the roses red

“Would you tell me, please,” said Alice, a little timidly, “why you are painting those roses?”  Alice might ask a similar question if Wonderland was in Peru, and she happened upon Chalon Sombrero.  Geoengineers are painting the once snow covered mountain white in an effort to restore glaciers.

Photo by Team Traveller
Can painting mountains white save glaciers?

Can painting mountains white save glaciers?

The idea is simple.  Lighter colors reflect the sun’s rays, whereas darker colors absorb them. Think of your own experience wearing a black t-shirt versus white one on a sunny day.

The project is funded by the World Bank as one of the winners of 100 Ideas to Save the Planet, a contest “which focused on innovative solutions for climate change”.  Peruvian inventor Eduardo Gold is responsible for the idea, and even though funding has not come through yet, the painting has begun.  The paint is made from lime and egg whites.


The BBC explains Gold’s idea:

Changing the albedo (a measure of how strongly an object reflects light) of the rock surface, would bring about a cooling of the peak’s surface, says Mr Gold, which in turn would generate a cold micro-climate around the peak.

“Cold generates more cold, just as heat generates more heat,” says Mr Gold.

“I am hopeful that we could re-grow a glacier here because we would be recreating all the climatic conditions necessary for a glacier to form.

Glaciers are melting rapidly in the Peruvian Andes.  22 percent of the glaciers have disappeared in the last 30 years, and village rely on the mountain glaciers for their water supply.

There are skeptics to Gold’s plan, but he is determined to cover three peaks.  Ariel Schwartz writes:

Gold’s scheme isn’t a panacea to the larger problem of melting glaciers–just imagine how long it would take for workers to dump buckets of paint on top of even a fraction of the world’s mountain peaks. But if it succeeds, the project could be a boon to the hundreds of local villagers who rely on Chalon Sombrero for water.

Even though the paint is made from natural ingredients, I wonder what the effect will be on local drinking water supplies.

Peru is home to “70% of the world’s tropical glaciers”.  Local solutions by local inventors may help mitigate the effects of climate change, at least temporarily while the world attempts to solve the carbon problem.

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About the Author

Jennifer lives on 160 acres off-the-grid in a home built with her own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) from forest fire salvaged timber. Her home is powered by a micro-hydro turbine, and she has been a vegetarian for 21 years. Jennifer graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art education and has been teaching art to children for over 16 years. She also spent five years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse before becoming the mother of two beautiful children. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching preschool, as well as k-8 art. She enjoys writing, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and raising four akitas. Jennifer is the founder and editor of Eco Child's Play ( "I’ve always been concerned about the earth and our impact upon it. Now that I have children, I feel compelled to raise them with green values. From organic gardening to alternative energy, my family tries to leave a small carbon footprint." Please visit my other blog:

5 Responses to Geoengineering: Peru Paints Mountain White to Save Glacier

  1. Pingback: Great Green Blog Posts for the Week: 6/25/10 | Sustainablog

  2. Green Guy says:

    What a cool idea. I just started writing how could lime and egg whites be a good paint but then realized I was thinking about the wrong type of lime ;)

  3. Pingback: The Mep Report » Blog Archive » Peruvians Build Pretend Glaciers

  4. Pingback: Should We Be Geoengineering?

  5. It is a very good idea & must be supported strongly. Eduardo Gold must be awarded an honorary degree for such a wonderful practical idea.

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