Paint your roof!

Steven Chu, President Obama’s science adviser, has suggested that it might be a good idea to encourage people to paint their roofs white– and thus reflect solar radiation back into space, helping to save us from the peril of global warming.  Here’s a story on the proposal in the British Telegraph newspaper.

I remember that in the 1970s, when there was a scare about future “global cooling”, there were proposals to sprinkle black carbon particles on arctic ice, thus having the opposite effect:  absorb more radiation and protect us from the coming Ice Age.  Of course that scare didn’t last nearly as long as the current concern about excessive warming.

I can’t help thinking about the Disney “Alice in Wonderland” movie, in which the Red Queen’s gardeners try to remedy a horticultural mistake by “painting the roses red”.

Well, I know this is different– after all, Dr. Chu won the Nobel prize in physics.  In the movie, her majesty was not amused and shouted:  “Off with their heads!”

One Response to “Paint your roof!”

  1. Ed Says:

    There have been a number of studies about the effects of dark roofs and white roofs in cities like Atlanta, and their relative impacts on the local temperature. The lighter the roofs, the cooler the interiors, since more light is reflected back into space instead of being absorbed by the roof. As an astronomer, I think this would be obvious. But empirically I’ve found the effect myself inside of tents. White tents are cooler in the summer, and dark-colored tents are warmer. Try it yourself.

    Of course, painting your roof shingles might not be a good idea. But using lighter colors of home roof shingles when it comes time to replace them, might save you money on air-conditioning costs later on.

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