Will the Nitwittery Never End?

NOW THEY WANT YOU to paint your roof white.

Based on the notion that this will make your house cheaper to cool.

And that that will put less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Do you REALLY need me to list out all the ways that is an incredibly STUPID idea?

You do?


First, let’s stipulate that the cost is negligible to zero. I mean, if your roof is currently in good shape and a common color — say, light gray — then painting it white won’t come free. And it won’t have a lasting effect if you just roll white latex over three-dimensional asphalt shingles, so it won’t come cheap, either. But let’s ignore the cost to actually change the color, which you wouldn’t do but for this folly.

Why white? Yes, white is probably the most cost-effective, high albedo color. But what’s the delta between a flat white and the aforementioned pale gray? The article says if the average family of four were to paint 8,000 square feet of roof…

Whuh-huh-ha-a-a-ait a minute, there, Buckaroo. Eight THOUSAND square feet of roof? Whose house IS this, anyhoo? Algore’s? EIght Kay on a ranch would mean a roughly 8K floor area. On a two-story, would mean 16. Considering your average single-family runs around 2,200 square feet, you gotta figure those greenies been movin’ on up BIG time.

Shush, Dolly. No nit-picking. The concept itself is flawed, no need to argue over details.

Sorry. That’n just jumped up off the screen and whacked me across both freckled cheeks.

Well, then sit down.


Anyhoo. Color. If you’re in the sunbelt, perhaps white makes sense. But, if you’re in the rest of the world, you’re actually going to be more worried about staying warm than cool. You’ll spend more of the year under heat than A/C. So a roof that actually REFLECTS heat from the sun doesn’t really seem like that bright an idea, does it?

Then there’s the notion of all the tons of carbon that 8,000 square foot roof wouldn’t be caused to be thrown into the environment — presumably because you wouldn’t be sucking up as many kilowatt hours to cool the house. Might be a good idea if there were any point. First, the amount, compared to the total carbon dioxide partial pressure in the atmosphere, fairly defines negligible. The actual fraction of the total that man contributes has so many zeroes to the right of the decimal that you can’t count them with your shoes on. Plus or minus a margin of error ten or a hundred times larger. It’s preposterous that anything mankind can do will have any effect that won’t get lost in the noise. Second, there’s the question of whether or not changing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is even a problem.

Yes, they claim that the pre-industrial level was 285 ppm and that we currently enjoy something around 380ppm. Which is true, as far as it goes. If you measure the global concentration of carbon dioxide on the summit of a volcano. And nowhere else.

But, if you live in the REAL world, where the atmosphere is a huge and turbulent place, where the local concentrations of various gasses range the entire scale over both space and time, you might tend to suspect that figure. Especially when you find out that, according to OTHER measurements of CO2, that 380 figure is a HIGH and is only observed in one or two places on the planet — you guessed it — near volcanoes. The rest of the place, well… not so much.

And, yet… temperatures (where and when we’ve looked, which we’re getting better at, but still…), have been falling for a decade.

Now, yes, saving energy is good in and of itself. And everyone should do the calculus. It’s pretty simple, really. How much does/will energy cost you to accomplish a certain end, and how much will it cost you to take certain mitigating actions? Sum the two. If the result is negative, you have a winner. If not, well…

This is a government mandate, isn’t it?

Bend over. Grease up.

Better make sure that white paint is low-VOC.

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