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Floating Mirrors Against Global Warming

Big swaths of mylar.
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Al Gore claimed in an Inconvenient Truth that one reason melting ice caps was such a problem was that the ice reflects 90% of sunlight, while the open ocean absorbs 90% of the sunlight.

Open ocean therefore provides a better, longer-lasting, and deeper heat trap than just the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere alone. Furthermore, hotter oceans melt floating ice from below, and can cause coastal ice to receed from the coast. What's more, in tropical regions, hotter water makes for more powerful hurricanes (AKA typhoons, AKA cyclones, etc. depending on your part of the world.)

Sadly, with temperatures going up, and what with water being hard to keep ice on, there's little chance of getting that ice back soon. But without something reflective up there, the problem will just get worse.

Never fear. We have the solution right here, and it is... MYLAR. As evidenced by the whale-swallowing ballon problem, we already know that mylar is cheap, reflective, and it floats on sea water. So, huge sheets of mylar can be floated in various parts of the ocean, thus reflecting the sun's rays before they enter the ocean.

With a product that costs mere pennies to the square mile, we can increase reflection at the poles, keeping the polar waters cooler, and helping to prevent further loss of ice sheets. We can increase reflection around the gulf of mexico, and other near-coastal regions to reduce coastal water temperatures, thus cutting out the power for cyclonic weather patterns before they hit dry land. We can put mirrors out around tropical waters, thus reducing hot spots, and making the ocean safer for coral reefs, and thereby protecting our fishing industries. we can put these on top of the ponds that form when ice sheets start to melt in the middle, and hopefully re-freeze, or at least slow further melting there.

Won't these huge sheets break up in the waves? Probably not, as a matter of fact. Waves only break near the shoreline. In the deep ocean, it is just swells... OK, so it can get pretty rough when there is a storm, but these should be pretty cheap to make, and fairly easy to deploy.

What if ice forms on them up in the arctic, and they sink? Well now... ice floats, and ice reflects, and ice is what we were trying to replace with these in the first place, so if ice forms, and stays, then we won't be needing these any more, so they did their job.

What if polar bears, or whales, or some other critters rip them up? Uh... yeah. They're cheap. Sadly, animals might get tangled in the debris, but if we're really talking about the fate of the earth here, maybe we can afford to risk losing a few animals. if not, we can let things get worse. Supposedly we're also killing our oceans, so there might not be any polar bears or whales to worry about in the future.

OK, but who's going to pay for this? Ah. Good question. Well... anybody might. However, let me propose an additional feature: Big reflective things in the ocean like this could be shaped to form... company logos visible from space, for example. Know that Google logo on the top of their building? Now imagine that... only it's saving the earth, and it's a few miles on each side. I'd call that good publicity.

ye_river_xiv, Jun 01 2014


       Mylar is subject to ultraviolet decomposition. However, it might be good for a month or two, before it starts to disintegrate. On another hand, those highly reflective mylar balloons are reflective because they are "metallized", thinly coated with a metal such as aluminum. The aluminum might help the mylar resist UV decompostion--except that the aluminum will corrode upon exposure to salt water. I'm not sure which way the reflective material will fail first.   

       So, you will need factories to produce this film continuously, to constantly replace the decomposed film. I suspect it won't be cost-effective, compared to some other notion, like "Ping Pong Albedo Enhancement 2" (on list at above right).
Vernon, Jun 01 2014

       Cost-effective compared to what? The utter destruction of all life on Earth?
ytk, Jun 01 2014

       I think [Vernon] was just suggesting there might be better shiny stuff to use?
Skewed, Jun 01 2014

       avoiding chopping aircraft in two [-]
Voice, Jun 01 2014

       Or, cover all surfaces in Solar panels, and dump the energy by shining high-intensity spotlights back at the Sun
sninctown, Jun 01 2014

       Does anyone know how efficiently oil slicks reflect sunlight?   

       Failing that, dynamite would work. Dead fish tend to float on their sides, presenting the maximum reflective area to incoming sunlight. Of course, gulls will tend to eat the fish, but gulls are mostly white.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 01 2014

       Perhaps the answer is those long-lasting bubbles --ocean foam is white, so if the appropriate substance was added to make the bubbles in that foam last a long time....
Vernon, Jun 01 2014

       Lots and lots of phosphorus dish-washing liquid.
RayfordSteele, Jun 02 2014


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