6 of 8
BACKNEXT
White deserts
White deserts
White roofs may cool cities, but white deserts may cool the planet.

How it works: This audacious plan would cover the world's great deserts with white plastic sheeting, like a tarp but thicker, in an attempt to reflect more of the sun's rays back into space.

This wouldn't take place on sand dunes or in deserts like those in the American Southwest that have lots of plants, but rather the vast barren stretches of the Sahara, the Gobi, or the Arabian Peninsula. Some have also talked about doing this over the ocean, although specifics on that idea are in short supply.

The big problem: Cost. In order to reflect enough light to balance increasing carbon emissions, an area the size of Missouri would need to be covered each year. That would cost an estimated $500 billion annually, said Alvia Gaskill, president of the consulting firm Environmental Reference Materials who has done some calculations on the idea.

There's also the issue of space. It could only be carried out for 40-60 years before all the deserts were covered.

NEXT: Biochar

Last updated December 02 2009: 10:52 AM ET
Email | Print | Share  |  RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
More Galleries
Want to buy -- and live in -- a piece of history? It's not that far out of reach. These historic homes are not only for sale, they are incredible bargains. More
5 ways retailers are tracking you If you think pesky salespeople are invading your personal space, check out these 5 technologies that are tracking your movements throughout a store. More
Moto X vs. Droid Turbo: Which Droid should you buy? Motorola has made the two best Android smartphones this year. Here's how they stack up. More

Special Offer

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.