Saturday, March 04, 2006

Day after tomorrow? It's a wrap.

News that Antartica is melting faster than snow is falling has me wondering what do we do after all the ice has gone? We paint like mad. Roadways, buildings, rooftops, airports, everything must be white. And we wrap the world up in white material, especially around the poles, like earth was a global Christo installation.

The snow and ice covering the earth's surface area help to cool the earth by reflecting energy from the sun - up to 80% - straight back out into space. It has the highest albedo, or reflectivity, of the earth's surfaces. While it will be sad to see all those gigamegatonnes of fresh water, normally held in polar ice sheets, dumped into the oceans to ruin the world's waterfront property markets and bring oceanviews to the poor, it will be this other function of reflecting 80% the sun's heat straight back into space that I will miss the most.

So with the colour white having the highest albedo (which must be why snow is white) we must put on a drive to paint the cities of the world white and the interconnecting roads. Everything must look like a Greek Mediterranean village or the Sydney Opera House gleaming white in the sun. And we, the people, must all wear white, and possibly even turbans or sombreros, white ones.

Because with the snow 'n ice all gone, the artic and antartic polar sheets, the glaciers and snowfields and ice lakes, there will be be nothing efficient left to reflect the sun's energy back out to space.

Except we, the people.

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