Steven Chu: White Roofs to Fight Global Warming | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Steven Chu: White Roofs to Fight Global Warming

“There’s a friend of mine, a colleague of mine, Art Rosenfeld, who’s pushing very hard for a geo-engineering we all believe will be completely benign, and that’s when you have a flat-top roof building, make it white. “Now, you smile, but he’s done a calculation, and if you take all the buildings and make their roofs white and if you make the pavement more of a concrete type of colour rather than a black type of colour, and you do this uniformly . . . it’s the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars on the road for 11 years.”

The thing is, secretary Chu actually understated the potential benefits of global whitewashing. The Lawrence research he refers to (which we wrote about last fall) says that white roofs and pavements could mean a one-time reduction of 44 billion tons of carbon dioxide. That, Art Rosenfeld said, translates to removing all the cars in the world for 18 years.

Of course, that’s the best-case scenario. Most roofs are sloped, not flat. Using “cool colored” paint on sloping roofs—as California will require starting this summer—would lead to a global reduction on the order of 24 billion tons.

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And how much carbon dioxide is put back into the atmosphere manufacturing, transporting, and applying all that white paint?