There’s no shortage of solutions proposed to solve the problem of global warming, some devised after long, painstaking, and expensive hours of research. But President Obama’s key energy expert has come up with what appears to be a low-cost no-brainer – paint the roofs of all buildings white.
According to U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a Nobel prize-winning scientist, painting roofs and paved surfaces in white or other light colors would reduce global warming by conserving energy and reflecting sunlight back into space. He goes as far as to say that making all building roofs white would be the equivalent of taking all the cars in the world off the road for 11 years.
Chu’s premise is that when sunlight reflects off a white or light-colored surface, much of the light will pass through the atmosphere and back into space. On the other hand, infrared radiation emitted from warm surfaces is trapped by greenhouse gases, causing the atmosphere to further heat up and contribute to global warming.
Chu believes demands on air conditioning systems would be reduced if buildings have white or light-colored surfaces. Moreover, he added that painting vehicles in lighter colors would make them more energy-efficient in the summer, reducing demands on vehicle air conditioners.
While Chu’s idea is plausible, implementation on any massive scale would be challenging. I’m no expert on building construction, but how would you modify building surfaces in large cities like New York, where I live, with their diverse styles and constructions? Can one picture the Empire State Building painted white? What happens to all the landmark buildings where any exterior modification would require local legislative action and likely throw building historians into a tizzy?
I have a request for President Obama: Can you get Congress to pass legislation to give us tax credits to help us pay to paint our house roofs and dark-colored cars white?