Don: You know, Yael, no matter how much we talk about the need to stop global warming, sometimes it seems impossible. I mean, what are we actually doing about it?
Yael: Well Don, I suppose there's no one solution, but things like hybrid cars can make a difference. And scientists are busy developing biofuels that could reduce our use of gasoline derived from oil. And then there are crops...
Don: You mean crops and plants that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere?
Yael: That, but also crops like corn and wheat with leaves that reflect sunlight back into space. Scientists have used computer models to show that in major croplands in the United States and in Europe, planting crops with waxier leaves reflects more sunlight. In fact, switching to these crops could lower temperatures by about a degree during the summer.
Don: So are farmers switching to these plants?
Yael: Not yet, because right now they exist only as experiments. But with selective breeding and maybe genetic engineering it would be pretty simple to end up with seeds that produce plants with waxier and more reflective leaves.
Don: Cool. But there's only so much cropland on the planet? How would more reflective crops help stop global warming?
Yael: It wouldn't, at least not globally. But in places where there's lots of wheat, corn and other crops, waxier leaves could make a regional difference.
Don: I guess that's something.