How to slow global warming: paint all of the roofs white

May 27, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

What can we do to slow global warming? Steven Chu suggests that one way would be to paint our roofs white:

Professor Steven Chu, the US Energy Secretary, said the unusual proposal would mean homes in hot countries would save energy and money on air conditioning by deflecting the sun’s rays.


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Category: global warming

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    I had to repair my "flat" roof in the 1980's. This usually means mopping another layer of black tar over the surface. But I opted for adding a layer of white-surfaced rubber. A mop job lasts about 5 years. My white rubber is still good after nearly 20 years.

    A white surface prolongs the life of roofing materials, most of which are made from oil.

    But now I think that a wildflower roof might be even better.

  2. Erika Price says:

    I love reasonable, parsimonious solutions like this. We can't all install wildflower roofs whenever the fancy strikes, but we can certainly opt for a quick coat of white paint after a routine roof repair. When we face a problem which requires vast behavioral change, the battle will ultimately be won in simple, easy-to-reinforce quick fixes.

  3. Tony Coyle says:

    I was working in Bermuda recently (no – not sunbathing, working!) and the majority of buildings have white tile roofs. This creates a local updraft that apparently helps them to stay cooler, and also iduces higher rainfall (a crucial resource in such a small island).

    Makes me wonder why America seem so wedded to dark asphalt-based shingles for roofing.

  4. Ben says:

    Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.

    Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States and its coastal waters. These include increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier melts, and alterations in river flows. These changes are projected to grow.

    Climate changes are already affecting water, energy, transportation, agriculture, ecosystems, and health. These impacts are different from region to region and will grow under projected climate change.

    The amount and rate of future climate change depend primarily on current and future human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases and airborne particles. Responses involve reducing emissions to limit future warming, and adapting to the changes that are unavoidable.

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