By Alanna Brown, LuxEco Editorial Assistant
A contest sponsored by World Bank, entitled “100 Ideas to Save the Planet,” has awarded 26 people world-wide with the money to put their ideas into action. One of those winners, Eduardo Gold, from Licapa Peru, is on a mission to counteract the effects of global warming on his nation’s main supply of water and hydropower. His mission is to bring back the glaciers of the Chalon Sombrero peak in the Andes.
His actions may seem cuckoo, if at best futile, to many onlookers. But it was a brilliant and scientifically sound enough plan for World Bank to give 200,000 to make it a reality. So what is the plan? Using a simple, homemade mixture of lime, water, and egg whites, he and his team of four men have begun whitewashing three mountains just west of Ayacucho, where the Chalon Sombrero glaciers once existed. In two short weeks the men have whitewashed two hectares and have only 68 more to go.
An article from Inhabitat.com tells us, “Mr. Gold read up on glaciology and found that white surfaces actually reflect the sun’s rays back into the atmosphere instead of internalizing heat. He’s hoping that the whitewashed mountains will create a cold micro-climate which will entice snow to fall, causing glaciers to form.”
Glaciologists have said Gold’s plan has the potential to work on a small scale, but to take effect throughout the entire Andes mountain range would be virtually impossible. Gold is ignoring the cynics for now, determined to keep his village and country from drought. “Cold generates more cold, just as heat generates more heat,” Mr. Gold told the BBC, “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.”
According to the Peruvian Times, Peru is home to 70 percent of the earth’s tropical glaciers, which not only power the country’s hydroelectricity but also provide the vast desert city of Lima with drinking water. The Andes Mountains have lost at least 22 percent of glacial mass since 1970, including the Quelccaya Glacier, the largest ice cap of the Peruvian Andes, which has shrunken by 30 percent. More dismally, the Broggi Glacier, located atop the largest glacier chain in all the tropics, completed disappeared as of last May.
As global warming continues to heat the earth, its dire effects can make us feel powerless and hopeless. Gold’s idea might seem like an overwhelming task, but his steadfast resolve pushes him on, putting his theory to the test hectare by hectare.