Peru Painting Andes White Because it Could be Cool

painting the andes photo
Photo via BBC

Four men from a village in Peru, armed with environmentally-friendly paint, are undertaking one of the most bizarre plans to combat rising temperatures in the Andes--by painting the mountains white. The hope is that more heat will be reflected away from the icy mountain range, which has seen many of its glaciers melting away from increased warming over the last few decades. What sort of eccentric genius could secure the funds for such an ambitious plan? Well, his name Eduardo Gold, and he won a contest.Eduardo is no scientist, but according to folks who are, the idea may just be crazy enough to work. According to MeteoGroup, scientists believe that the white mountainsides could deflect heat away from the Andes range, lowering the higher than normal temperatures which have contributed to the alarming rate of glacier melt. In fact, the whitewashing was selected as one of the top proposals in the World Bank's "100 Ideas to Save the Planet" competition held last year, allowing Mr. Gold to secure some $200 thousand to see it realized.

A small team from a nearby village have already begun the project, which will eventually whitewash over 170 acres of mountainside on three Andean peaks. Painting at a rate of 2.5 acres a week, the project will likely take over a year to be completed.

While the notion of painting over an entire mountain might seem like scene from an environmentalist's nightmare, the whitewash compound is eco-friendly. Based on an ancient Peruvian recipe, the paint consists of lime, egg whites, and water, reports the MeteoGroup.

The project couldn't come at a better time for the Peruvian Andes. Rising temperatures over the last 35 years have been devastating to the region's glaciers, which have been reduced 22 percent--with occasionally deadly consequences. To make matters worse, without significant changes, the World Bank estimates that all there may be no glaciers left in a matter of decades.

Whether it works or not, the plan is certainly a bold one--made all the more impressive by how Eduardo Gold's mountain-whitewashing garnered enough support to actually be implemented. It's enough to make even Tom Sawyer proud.

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