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Can Reflective Roofing Save Energy and Help the Environment?
By Bob Schildgen
Hey Mr. Green,
I liked your article about the amount of space needed to provide solar power in the United States. I have wondered how many roofs would have to be painted white to replace the albedo of the melting ice caps. We live in Houston, Texas, and I've often thought of painting ours white to reduce our AC bill.
— Dianne, in Houston
Painting rooftops white may have some promise, although there remains considerable debate about its benefits, especially given that the soot in our air has the potential to trap their reflected heat.
There are several other factors to also consider. The cooling effects of the white roof could, for example, force folks to turn the furnace up in winter, thereby offsetting at least some of its benefit. As the EPA politely and rather cautiously reminds us: "Please remember the energy savings that can be achieved with reflective roofing is highly dependent on facility design, insulation used, climatic conditions, building location, and building envelope efficiency."
If you'd like to dig deeper into the issue and come up with a specific calculation for your location and type of dwelling, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory offers a Cool Roof Calculator. Based on evidence I've seen, the benefits of the white roof would probably be greater in your area than in cities farther north. Good luck with your research!
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans
Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.
While airlines only serve bottled drinking water directly to customers, they use the plane's water for coffee and tea, and passengers can drink the tap water. Aitor Diago / Getty Images
You might want to think twice before washing your hands in an airplane bathroom.
By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis
Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.
Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.
The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.