Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fight Global Warming, Paint The Town White

Has low-tech solution to global warming

There's a saying about painting the town red when you're going out to party.

The Rolling Stones recorded a song called "Paint It Black."

But the U.S. energy secretary says they've go it all wrong. We should be painting our towns and cities white.

White roofs. White roads.

Why? Steven Chu, who is a Nobel prize-winning physicist, says that painting as much of the surface of the earth white will combat global warming. It would be so effective, he says, that it would be like removing all cars from all roads for 11 years.

White surfaces reflect sunlight therefore, Chu says, countering global warming.

So, if you want to stop global warming, get out the whitewash!

We talk about issues like this and more weekdays at 5 PM New York time on News Talk Online on


No_Strings said...

Personaly, I burn tires in my backyard on weekends to fight global warming. The thick black smoke blocks the suns heat and cools the earth. It's all in the science !

DangerRus said...

No Strings is not far off in his assertions. The white smog in Beijing is reflective and reduces the impact of global warming. It is about reflective materials. Though our greatest ally to reflect heat is melting in the artic and is replaced by a heat absorbing material, water. Then the water heats up and evaporates into more greenhouse gases. Water comprises 60% of global warming gases.

Anonymous said...

The Earth has an albedo of 0.29, meaning that it reflects 29 per cent of the sunlight that falls upon it. With an albedo of 0.1, towns absorb more sunlight than the global average.

Painting all roofs white could nudge the Earth's albedo from 0.29 towards 0.30. According to a very simple "zero-dimensional" model of the Earth, this would lead to a drop in global temperature of up to 1 degree C, almost exactly canceling out the global warming that has taken place since the start of the industrial revolution.

Does this sound promising? Well, not really. First of all, a zero-dimensional model doesn't take into account cloud cover. Secondly, you would have to paint every roof in the world white to approach even a 1-degree Celsius differential. Is there even enough white paint in the world to do that in the next decade?

Before we jump on this as the solution to end all solutions, we also have to think about the pollutants caused in the manufacturing of all that white paint!

There's also the fact that new types of pigments actually cool without this "turn your roof white" approach.

There are now new pigments in the paint industry that cools. Colors include black, red, green and blue. Go to your local Home Depot or Lowes or look up SOLAPLEX on google. (Our president and his environmental appointee probably do not watch the home improvement cable shows, or they'd know this.)

So, before we all run for the next big fad (and redo our roofs for several thousands of dollars) let's stop and do the calculating.

-LD McLellan

Gary Baumgarten said...

NOW you tell me LD, after buying all that stock in a paint company that specializes in whitewash!

Anonymous said...

Sorry darlin'.... you should've asked me first. As a woman, I'm born to shop -- AND-- I know where the real deals are ;)

-LD aka "red"