Wednesday, June 10, 2009

White roofs

Die Zeit is poking fun at US Energy Secretary Chu's suggestion that black surfaces in the US be painted white in an effort to combat climate change.

Statt über alte Versäumnisse zu reden, favorisieren Amerikaner pragmatische Lösungen, mit denen sich am besten auch in der Krise noch Geld verdienen lässt.

(Instead of talking about what has been done wrong, the German weekly writes, Americans prefer pragmatic solutions that also earn them money during the crisis.) Well, maybe - but that still does not make it a bad idea. In fact, I have been proposing such a solution for years, though Chu did the math to show what the actual impact would be: "the equivalent of taking roughly 75 million cars off the road for a year."

Here is what I wrote back at the beginning of 2005 in lectures I gave in 2004 in the US when arguing that conservation does not necessarily mean having to give anything up -- indeed, in some cases, there are only positive side effects:

Second example: a new house is built in the sunny South. First, you cut down all the trees so you can move around better. Then you put a black roof on the house. Now, the inhabitants get to use as much energy as they can afford eight months out of the year to try to keep this unshaded house with a black roof cool inside. What's so great about that?

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