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Obama's Climate Guru: Paint Your Roof White!

When it comes to carbon emissions, changing the color of roofs and roads would be like taking all the world's cars off the road for 11 years.

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The white revolution: How it would work

  • The idea of painting surfaces white to conserve energy is being actively pursued by the US. Earlier this month, Barack Obama's chief scientific adviser, John Holdren, received a scientific memorandum on the subject.
  • Scientists estimate that making roofs and pavements white or more light-coloured would counter global warming with "negative radiative forcing" -- reflecting sunlight back into space. They said that retrofitting urban roofs and pavements in tropical and temperate regions with solar-reflective materials would offset about 44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
  • The scientists said it would lower the cost of air conditioning, making buildings more comfortable and mitigate the "urban heat island" effect caused by the concentration of concrete surfaces in cities.
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