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 color of roofs, roads and pavements so that they reflect more sunlight and heat could play a big part in containing global warming, he said May 26th 2009.
This is an interesting concept that every home owner has thought about in the depths of a summer heatwave. If I had put on white shingles instead of black ones wouldn’t my home be much cooler?
Obviously if you walk across your asphalt driveway on a hot day without shoes on your feet you can feel the amount of heat that a dark surface can hold but then again have you ever tried walking barefoot across white sand from the boardwalk to the ocean side on a hot July day? Well if you haven’t take our word for it white or black that sand is still REAL HOT!
But could there be a big drawback from painting or using white materials in these locations like the energy secretary suggests? After all he is a Nobel Prize winner he must know everything about the subject…
Well what about winter?
In the winter when there is a light snow a black asphalt driveway or road will hold enough heat to help melt the snow while other surfaces, grass, bushes,,trees get covered. We have all seen this in the morning while getting ready for work … you look out the window and say Oh no it snowed but the streets seem ok.
Changing the color of our roads and driveways would mean more labor to shovel and plow, more gasoline and carbon emissions to remove the bulk of snow and then more salts used to reduce the icing both at night and now also during the day.
More salts means more expense but it also means more potholes and more salts entering our streams and rivers. We will have huge expenses and we will be killing off life in our already polluted streams.
And what about black roof materials in winter and cooler months they also attract heat and melt snow which reduces the risk of a roof collapse. If we changed the color of our shingles we would also need to increase the angle of our roofs and flat roofs would hold more snow for longer periods.
With just a cursory look at Secretary Steven Chu’s ideas we have to say the guy is a fricken idiot.
The practices he wants to implement will work only in areas that have a single or 3 season climate. Sure Mexico and maybe Texas, Southern California and Florida may see great improvements in personal quality of life and reductions in cooling costs if they use some of these techniques but Here Is A Clue they have been doing this for over 30 years now.
If Steven Chu wants to do something useful how about this we have 300 million people in the USA if each one of us planted an Oak or other substantial tree every year we would improve the quality of our air and create shade that would reduce some of our electric use for cooling in the hot months of summer.
Take that one step farther and if each person in Africa planted one tree then there would be 1 billion new trees a year and this would reduce the heating cycle in Africa which causes hurricanes to form and attack the US Southern and East Coast.
And if the parts of Africa that can not support trees today were planted with a low water needing grass it would eventually support bushes and then larger trees in just a number of years.
This would slowly reduce the ever growing deserts in Africa which effects the world climate.
Just One Tree every year by every American and then spread that to other countries.
Steven Chu is an idiot and it is so sad that a person like him would be decorated with awards and given jobs that control our lives and environment. He is just one more bad choice.
Even a 6 year old would tell you 300 million trees every year, for 10 years, just in the USA would be a great start. Not to mention the costs of home building, roadway resurfacing and poisoning of our streams with road salts and chemicals.