Eduardo Gold is one of 26 people around the world to win the World Bank’s “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” contest and his dream is to bring back Peru’s glaciers from the effects of global warming. Mr. Gold is not a scientist — though some might think he’s a genius, others that he’s got a couple of screws loose — but he’s using the cash prize from the contest to whitewash three mountains just west of Ayacucho, Peru in hopes of bringing back melted glaciers that once hung there, high above the village of Licapa. In the past two weeks he and his team of four men have used a mixture of lime, egg whites and water to turn the Chalon Sombrero peak white. They’ve successfully whitewashed two hectares in the past two weeks and they’ve only got 68 more to go.

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.” Before he entered the World Bank contest, 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. US Energy Secretary Steven Chu has given merit to a similar idea to counteract global warming — though on a much smaller scale — of whitewashed roofs. Mr. Gold hasn’t recieved his $200,000 prize from the World Bank yet, but he didn’t wait for the cash to get his project going and it seems he and his team will just power through until the money comes.

According to a World Bank report in 2009, Peru holds over 70% of the Earth’s glaciers and 22% of them have already melted due to climate change in the last 30 years. The glaciers that are left have a mere 20 year time line for disappearance if nothing is done to save them. Peruvian communities depend on the glaciers for fresh water and hydropower and without them would be in peril. Glaciologists who have heard about Mr. Gold’s plan say that it’s possible that it might work on a small scale, but making it work for a whole region — like the entire Andes range — would be near impossible. For now Mr. Gold is ignoring the world, trudging through the skeptics and it seems only time will tell if his egg white solution can help.

+ The World Bank’s “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” Contest

Via The BBC