Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paint the world white to fight global warming

(stock photo of Palm Springs, California, where many rooftops are painted white to reflect more of the sun's radiant energy, keeping homes cooler, reducing the need for air conditioning).

As a weapon against global warming, it sounds so simple and low-tech that it could not possibly work. But the idea of using millions of buckets of whitewash to avert climate catastrophe has won the backing of one of the world’s most influential scientists.

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 colour of roofs, roads and pavements so that they reflect more sunlight and heat could play a big part in containing global warming, he said yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of the St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium, for which The Times is media partner, Professor Chu said that this approach could have a vast impact. By lightening paved surfaces and roofs to the colour of cement, it would be possible to cut carbon emissions by as much as taking all the world’s cars off the roads for 11 years, he said.

(I laughed when I first read this headline, but the more I looked into it the more sense it made. At the very least you'll cut down on your summer air conditioning bills and save some cash! To read the article in the UK's Times Online click here).

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