Tuesday, April 11, 2006

$500 billion is a lot to reflect on

Oh good, a writing competition: What Could America Do With $500 Billion?

Each month, the best alternative option to Iraq war spending will receive $50 USD.

At the end of the Iraq war, by vote, the best entry will receive $500 USD.

Ideas must be PG-rated and legal. Send me your ideas. They can be left-wing, right-wing, thoughtful, kookie, weird, peace type, and/or military type. Entries will be judged on thoughtfulness, clarity, and creativity. If you cut and past information from other people's web sites, take no more than a paragraph and ensure you include a link to where you got the content.

Without further ado, here is my entry:

$500 billion is a lot to reflect on.

$500 billion would be just perfect for what I want to do!

Putting morality aside for a sec, the Iraq war really is turning out to be terribly inconvenient at this juncture in homo sapiens sapiens evolution. It is entrenching the oil addiction the President of the United States owned up to, driving the hook in deeper, reinforcing the dependency.

That oil that was going to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq but no doubt is not laying idle given what motorists will stump up for nowadays at the fuel pump, especially at Easter, that oil is the very carbon dioxide that was sucked out of the atmosphere by majestic plants millennia ago and safely sequestered to give us sapiens sapiens a rather liveable biosphere and a pretty stable climate.

Pretty stable climate, we grew from 6 million to 6 billion in 20,000 years. It's no wonder we think we rule.

We were smart enough to harness that ancient sequestered atmospheric carbon dioxide, turning it into petrocarbons to fuel the economies that financed our exponential population growth. It has been good, we have the iPod now, but we are at a crossroad and now we have to be smart enough to seize that $500 billion, and paintbrushes, and starting with the crossroad, paint it white.

News that Antarctica is melting faster than snow is falling did have me wondering what we do after all the ice has gone.

It has to be considered; what do we do?

Well, now with $500 billion in the kitty we have a chance, so we paint like mad. From our crossroads in all directions: White highways, byways and dual carriage motorways. Link roads, ring roads and perimeter roads - all snow white. Then rooftops and buildings, and the tarmac of airports, everything must be white. And when we run out of roads then we wrap the world up in white material, especially around the poles, as if 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 all the earth's surface types. 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 generally unwanted ocean views to the poor, it will be this other function of reflecting 80% the sun's heat back into space that we will miss the most.

We can't really get away with water-based paints - one hurricane and your roads are back to boring black, nor could you in good conscience use petro-chemical oil based paints. Fifteen percent of the $500 billion will go towards research and rollout of organic oil based white paint. Happily the plant yield needed to meet the scale of paint required globally will also serve to act as a gigantic carbon sink, sucking heat-absorbing, ice-melting carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and providing us with our second prong in our plan of attack on the global warming problem.

To summarise. We revitalise earth's flagging albedo by replacing the world's shrinking snow covered surface area with a white coat of paint over the world's road network, and we make the paint base from carbon dioxide sucking plant oils. More sunlight energy is reflected back out to space, and there is less carbon dioxide on the way out to space to trap this reflected energy and convert it to heat. Cool, huh?

At $500 billion this solution is cost effective; we get to be able to bequeath a functioning planet to our children and grandchildren. What have we got for the money spent on Iraq so far?

(Adapted from an earlier idea by Global Warming Watch)

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1 comment:

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