Painting 2% of Earth’s surface white would stop global warming, says scientist

In 2021, researchers from Purdue University announced the creation of the whitest paint on Earth. This material is able to reflect more than 98% of light, making it particularly useful in the context of combating climate change.

The use of this paint on buildings could lead to lower temperatures on their surfaces and indoors, as well as reduce the need for air conditioning. However, according to Professor Jeremy Munday of the University of California, Davis, its applications could extend far beyond individual buildings.

Munday suggests that if a material like Purdue paint covers just 1-2% of the Earth’s surface, the amount of light reflected back into space would be enough to stabilize global temperatures. This means that this approach could have significant potential to address climate change.

It is important to note that the amount of light reflected back into space would not cause much damage to the cosmos. As Munday said, it’s like pouring a cup of plain water into the ocean. Thus, using white paint on large areas of the Earth’s surface will not only help lower temperatures, but will also be environmentally friendly.

However, to achieve this effect, a significant area must be covered. The total surface area of the Earth is about 197 million square miles, of which most of it is water. To achieve 1-2% coverage, about 2-4 million square miles are needed.

To visualize the magnitude of this task, we can compare it to the area of the United States, which is just over 3.5 million square miles. Thus, to cover just 1% of the Earth’s surface with white paint would require approximately 139 billion gallons of the material. If 2% is to be covered, the amount doubles.

Of course, these calculations do not take into account the complexities involved in painting oceans, deserts, and forests. However, many places around the world are already using white paint to reduce the temperature of surfaces. For example, in Texas, many cars are painted white to minimize heat in hot climates.

While the use of white paint can be an effective tool in combating climate change, it must be recognized that we have a long road ahead of us. However, research conducted by scientists at Purdue University is breaking new ground and offering hope that we can find a solution to this global problem.

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