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article imagePeruvian snags World Bank funding to paint mountaintops white

By Stephanie Dearing     Jun 29, 2010 in Environment
Eduardo Gold, a Peruvian inventor, perturbed by the melting of glaciers in the Andes Mountains, has come up with a solution -- paint the Andes white.
There's a saying that goes 'if you can't make it, fake it.' And it appears that 55-year-old Eduardo Gold is putting that idea to the ultimate test by painting three rather large mountains in Peru white. This story is no joke. Gold, through his organization, Glaciares Peru, competed for World Bank funding in a 2009 contest.
The latest popular opinion trend, when it comes to global warming, has been to denigrate the phenomenon as a hoax perpetuated by greedy scientists who had their hands in the pot for lucrative funding. But if you head to the Andes, you will find that glacier loss, attributed to global warming, is very real. Santiago Times reports the rapid melting of the remaining glaciers is causing alarm for downstream communities who rely on the glaciers for drinking water.
Enter Eduardo Gold, who said in his project description: "Increases in global temperatures due to climate change are creating large environmental changes. One of the most serious is the melting of the world’s largest freshwater reservoirs—glaciers.
Tropical glaciers are the most at risk, as they are located at latitudes where small temperature changes can
have large impacts, such as the loss of the only current source of reliable water supply.
The project proposes to build a production facility to create a paintable white cover material. The cover material will then be applied to exposed rock surrounding the glacier, or within recently glaciated areas, in order to increase surface reflectance (albedo). This, in turn, will decrease microclimate temperatures enough to stop glacial melting and may even allow for the regrowth of glacial mass. The project also will attempt to have the change in albedo over a “unit” surface area equated with carbon credits in order to generate a sustainable source of revenue generation for future project applications."
Having won the funding, the gargantuan task set out by Gold is now being undertaken by four men, reports The Telegraph. The four are to paint portions of three mountain tops white with a specially formulated environmentally-friendly paint. As of Monday, 2 hectares of a proposed 70 hectares have been painted on the mountain called Chalon Sombrero.
Similar activities have been undertaken in the mountains of four countries, Glaciares Peru reports. Results, however, are not promising.
Glaciers have been melting all around the world over the past decade, including the Antarctic. A recent study conducted by Dutch scientists concluded the loss of glaciers in the Himalayas would result in food shortages for approximately 60 million people - but only in some areas, according to the Associated Press. It is anticipated that the melting of glaciers throughout the world will have similar outcomes.
No one knows if painting mountain tops in the Andes with white paint will actually help. But as Gold told the Telegraph, "I'd rather try and fail to find a solution than start working out how we are going to survive without the glaciers, as if the situation was irreversible."
In April this year, a portion of a glacier collapsed in Peru, resulting in injuries to 50 people reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
Gold had participated in a competition held by the World Bank in 2009, designed to prompt small-scale projects that would benefit indigenous peoples. 26 projects were selected for funding through the program, Development Marketplace.
More about Climate change, Painting andes, Peru, Eduardo gold, World bank
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