Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California have suggested a plan to drastically reduce global warming, by painting the world white. If implemented successfully, it would be the equivalent of taking the world’s 600 million cars off the road for 18 years.
Hashem Akbari and Surabi Meno, along with Art Rosenfeld, California Energy Commissioner and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, are so convinced that their idea will work, that they have proposed a “Cool World” plan that would use white roofs, and solar-reflective roofs of other colors, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help delay atmospheric heating effects.
The team reckon that current flat roofs only relect 10-20% of solar energy, absorbing much of the remainder to heat up the buildings they cover. Cities also heat up far more than the countryside because of their dark roofs, dark pavements, and the absence of vegetation – an urban “heat-island” effect that raises the average air temperature of cities and their suburbs.
In a paper to be published in the journal Climatic Change, the team estimate that if buildings and streets in the world’s urban areas are re-fitted with “cool” materials, which reflect more sunlight than conventional materials, it could offset the global-warming effects of 44 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions.
I love low-tech solutions like this and, although it might sound faintly off-the-wall, the idea seems so simple that it couldn’t hurt to experiment with it on a small-scale to measure the projected effects. Now where’s that white paint…
Image Credit – tomsaint11 via flickr on a Creative Commons license