Azara Blog: Crops should allegedly be used that reflect more solar energy back into space

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Date published: 2009/01/16

The BBC says:

Farmers could help curb rising global temperatures by selecting crop varieties that reflect solar energy back into space, researchers say.

Scientists at Bristol University calculate that switching crops in North America and Europe could reduce global temperatures by about 0.1C.

Temperatures have risen by about 0.7C since the dawn of the industrial age.

Other experts say the idea is feasible but could not cool the world enough to combat rising greenhouse gas levels.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that by the end of the century, the average global temperature will have risen by 1.8-4.0C from 1990 levels.

The scientists behind the new research suggest that compared to other engineering concepts for curbing temperature rise, the farming switch would probably have no downside and would be easy to do.
The principle, expounded in the scientific journal Current Biology, is certainly simple enough.

Some crop varieties are naturally more reflective than others. A field of more reflective leaves will send more solar energy back into space than a field of a more absorbent variety.

Hey, why not. But this seems like one of those ideas that the BBC loves to trumpet that 20 years down the road nobody has ever heard about again. The claim that there this idea "would probably have no downside" is bold but might or might not be true. And it has been suggested for years, for example, that people have white roofs in order to reflect solar energy, and nothing has ever come of that idea (not even on new builds, where presumably it would be cheap to implement).

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