A new study suggests a solution to global warming is easily in reach, at least with a good ladder.
White roofs reflect heat, while dark roofs absorb it. Light-colored shingles will not only help keep cooling costs down in the summertime, because houses will fill with less heat, but if installed on a massive scale, they could decrease the temperature of cities, and ultimately the globe.
That's according to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as the Los Angeles Times reports:
Globally, roofs account for 25% of the surface of most cities, and pavement accounts for about 35%. If all were switched to reflective material in 100 major urban areas, it would offset 44 metric gigatons of greenhouse gases, which have been trapping heat in the atmosphere and altering the climate on a potentially dangerous scale.
That is more than all the countries on Earth emit in a single year. And, with global climate negotiators focused on limiting a rapid increase in emissions, installing cool roofs and pavements would offset more than 10 years of emissions growth, even without slashing industrial pollution.
The study at least shows that there's a greater suite of potential solutions to global warming than we sometimes think. And even if replacing every roof and road in every city seems implausible, consider that it might be more politically palatable than a wholesale re-engineering of the way the economy uses energy.
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