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Chu: Paint World White For G Warming

From the UK’s Times:

Professor Steven Chu: paint the world white to fight global warming

Mark Henderson, Science Editor

As a weapon against global warming, it sounds so simple and low-tech that it could not possibly work. But the idea of using millions of buckets of whitewash to avert climate catastrophe has won the backing of one of the world’s most influential scientists.

Steven Chu, the Nobel prize-winning physicist appointed by President Obama as Energy Secretary, wants to paint the world white. A global initiative to change the colour of roofs, roads and pavements so that they reflect more sunlight and heat could play a big part in containing global warming, he said yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of the St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium, for which The Times is media partner, Professor Chu said that this approach could have a vast impact. By lightening paved surfaces and roofs to the colour of cement, it would be possible to cut carbon emissions by as much as taking all the world’s cars off the roads for 11 years, he said.

Building regulations should insist that all flat roofs were painted white, and visible tilted roofs could be painted with “cool-coloured” paints that looked normal, but which absorbed much less heat than conventional dark surfaces. Roads could be lightened to a concrete colour so they would not dazzle drivers in bright sunlight. “I think with flat-type roofs you can’t even see, yes, I think you should regulate,” Professor Chu said.

Pale surfaces reflect up to 80 per cent of the sunlight that falls on them, compared with about 20 per cent for dark ones, which is why roofs and walls in hot countries are often whitewashed. An increase in pale surfaces would help to contain climate change both by reflecting more solar radiation into space and by reducing the amount of energy needed to keep buildings cool by air-conditioning.

Professor Chu said that his thinking had been influenced by Art Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission, who drove through tough new building rules in the state. Since 2005 California has required all flat roofs on commercial buildings to be white; the measure is being expanded to require cool colours on all residential and pitched roofs.

Dr Rosenfeld is also a physicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, of which Professor Chu was director. Last year Dr Rosenfeld and two colleagues from the laboratory, Hashem Akbari and Surabi Menon, calculated that changing surface colours in 100 of the world’s largest cities could save the equivalent of 44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide — about as much as global carbon emissions are expected to rise by over the next decade

Presumably this is not satire.

In fact, we can only wonder how soon it will be before it will be mandatory. After all, as the article notes, it already is required in California.

Where you may soon only be able to buy white cars.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

24 Responses to “Chu: Paint World White For G Warming”

  1. BannedbytheTaliban says:

    The increase in cataracts surgeries sure is going to put a lot of strain on the socialized health system.

  2. Reality Bytes says:

    What are New Yorker’s gonna Wear?!!!

  3. Liberals Demise says:

    Anyone hear the uproar yet from the NAACP?
    Hows ’bout the Black Congressional Congress?
    I know Louie FarrotFace gots sumptin’ to say!!

    This is just TOO much white for these lovers’ of Humanity to put up with ……..

    “Damn the Global Warming issues, man! We ‘uns is being painted into a corner by a sheet wearin’ honkey wit a roller!!”

  4. proreason says:

    I gotta funny feeling Prof Chu has invested heavily in paint companies.

    • proreason says:

      From Rush’s show today from his website:

      “this. Well, I don’t know the website. I apologize for that. It looks like it’s a National Review website but I’m not sure. The author of this is Greg Pollowitz. “It turns out that three huge proponents of the idea to paint the town white are former colleagues of Secretary Chu from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and they’re looking for their share of stimulus loot. Why does LBNL need to share in the stimulus funding, exactly? How complicated can the proposal be? Buy paint. Buy rollers. Paint roof.” Why do you need a whole lot of money for this? But they are looking for grants, and this is the dirty little secret, ladies and gentlemen, of the entire environmentalist wacko movement. The proponents, be they from science, be they from the lay community, are all looking ”

      what a shock

  5. Confucius says:

    Is this why Katrina hit New Orleans?

  6. Steve says:

    Mr. Limbaugh is discussing this article as I type.

  7. crosspatch says:

    White roofs is something I have been advocating for years and not because of any political hype. Basically it is a way to reduce energy costs without making major lifestyle changes. Several years ago I ran across a roof coating that contained insulating ceramic spheres that not only reflects away heat in the daytime, but acts as additional insulation in cold weather and at night. The result is lower energy costs. And considering the hundreds of acres of roof exposure in metropolitan areas, painting all that space with these coatings would reduce the “urban heat island” impact and further reduce energy consumption in the entire community. If you can reduce the temperature of Los Angeles by even half a degree, you save a lot of electricity.

    Now you will have people that mistakenly believe that their black roof contributes to warming their home in winter but it doesn’t. In winter the sun angle is low, you get very little heating. And days are short so for most of the 24hr period, that black roof is an efficient radiator of heat from the house into space. A white coating would reflect that heat back into the house and the extra ceramic bead insulation adds even more efficiency. Studies in Florida and California showed in some cases a 30% reduction in electricity costs when such coatings were applied on poorly insulated homes. They can be applied right over the existing shingles and make the roof last decades longer than it would otherwise.

    In other words, it would reduce urban heat islands without mandating one iota of change in lifestyle.

    This is the stuff I am talking about. I found it several years ago when looking at ways to cut my air conditioning costs. I have no affiliation whatsoever with the company or anyone selling the stuff. I simply thought it was a great idea at the time and still do.

    • proreason says:

      What % did it reduce your a/c bills by?

      I’ve looked into the relective paints and foils you can have sprayed inside roofs and after removing the hype, have always found the payback isn’t that great if you have the work performed professionally….around a decade. Which may not even be the life of the product. I don’t doubt that they help, but I do question whether the ROI is worth it.

      The same might be true of paint on the outside.

      Professor Chu doesn’t care a whit about cost effectiveness. He’s a zealot. No price is too high.

    • crosspatch says:

      Not reflective. The silver paints don’t work. WHITE is the answer and the type with the ceramic insulation even better. The elastomeric coatings last a very long time and protect the shingles underneath from aging as well. If the coating is maintained, a roof could last for practically ever.

    • Douglas says:

      Well, the tiles on my roof are kind of a gray with a bit of moss color. They’re 80 years old and I’m going to have to replace them in the next 20 years, but given I spent about $100 cooling last summer and $5000 heating, I’m not particularly interested in going with a lighter color. :-)

  8. wirenut says:

    Pop Quiz Time!
    Circle the color of these items and judge if color is a factor, when left out in the sun.
    Snow and ice at the earth’s poles: white/other?
    Cottage Cheese: white/other?
    Polar Bears: white/other?
    Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man: white/other?
    Barry: white/other?
    I’m all confused.

  9. Enthalpy says:

    This guy won a Nobel Prize in what? The benefits of white roofs and the general rejection of heat are obvious, but this? Can Professor Chu be identified by the tinfoil hat he wears when they let him outside on Thursdays?

    • JohnMG says:

      Paint your automobile tires white AFTER you’ve inflated them. Otherwise……….

      And I thought white ANYTHING was bad–racist, even!

  10. pdsand says:

    I wonder what deleterious effect on the environment all that paint and the fumes associated with it would have. Plus how much of it gets washed down the drain in laundry/handwashing?
    That’s on top of the effect on the insect population from bugs flying into wet paint. That would have a ripple effect on the entire food chain.
    I wonder if migratory birds would be tricked off their regular flight path by the sudden change in color of an entire city’s rooftops and roadways?
    This paint would surely have to be produced from something, so there is probably CO2 emissions associated with that process.
    Plus the depletion of the natural resources that make up the paint would be devastating.

  11. canary says:

    pdsand, you got it on the fumes and chemicals. No one does anything about chemicals added to everything. Everything scented is chemcials, splashless clorox, sparkles in toothpaste. Mold. Houses need to breath.
    New cancers, breathing problems. What goes up, must come down. Might end up like the Middle-East. Days burning hot, nights freezing cold. White buildings

  12. MinnesotaRush says:

    The o-blah-blah gangs way of “spreadin’ the sunlight around”.

  13. wirenut says:

    Mr.Chu could learn a thing or two about whitewashing from a couple of youngsters from Missouri.
    Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Haw! I need a grant to study shingling and siding my house with mirrors. I’m all for conserving energy, but I would like to stifle stupidity.

  14. Colonel1961 says:

    Mrs. Colonel says white roofs are allowed after Easter and to repaint them dark by Labor Day – anything else would be tacky…

  15. Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

    I thought one of the major constituents of “Global Warming” (or whatever they’re calling it this week) was heat being trapped in the atmosphere by excess “greenhouse” gasses. Is it just me or would reflecting even more heat back into the atmosphere greatly exacerbate the problem?

    • proreason says:

      Not to defend the green cultists, but I think the idea with painting the roofs is to reduce the a/c usage, which reduces the burning of fossil fuels which creates the poison co2 that we all exhale in order to live.

      I don’t think the warmist nut is saying anything about reflected heat. Reflecting it doesn’t diminish or increase the heat. It may concentrate it on your eyeball, which personally I am not looking forward to, but reflecting it won’t change the amount of energy.

  16. wirenut says:

    Colonel, perhaps the Mrs. could also advise on floral prints or stripes. My house is fashion challenged. Thanks!


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