Hashem Akbari believes that whitening 100 of the world’s largest cities could wipe out the effect of the expected increase in emissions over the next decade.
Dr Akbari, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, also argues that if built-up areas were made white, less heat would accumulate within them, allowing residents and workers to reduce their use of air-conditioning units, which use a large amount of power.
Dr Akbari has calculated that making 100 of the largest cities white would increase the amount of sunlight reflected by Earth by 0.03 per cent. He believes it would cancel out the warming caused by 44 billion tonnes of carbon emissions.
“We can give the atmosphere time to breathe,” he said. “I just don’t see a downside to this idea. It benefits everybody and you don’t have to have hard negotiations to make it happen.”