She’s Freakin’ Out Man…$8 Trillion of White Paint?

Mounting Doom – I want to see it painted, painted, painted, painted white….white as the Arctic…

Wow. My staunchest local nemesis, Ms. Johnston (no “e” –, has just published a blog post, which includes the following:

“So what are we going to do? It’s an emergency situation! What are we going to do? We’re actually facing down the prospect of extinction of our species! What are we going to do?
Folks, the tracheotomy is an emergency procedure for emergency situations. Our collective tracheotomy is geoengineering: “deliberate large-scale engineering and manipulation of the planetary environment to combat or counteract anthropogenic changes in atmospheric chemistry” (Wikipedia).
If we’re already saying no to the possibility of geoengineering, then we either don’t realize the emergency we’re in, or we’re choosing a future with no future for our children. The Canadian Youth Climate Coalition naively, in my view, calls geoengineering “a false solution.”
Friends, geoengineering is not a false solution, it is our last resort — and soon to be our only solution. We have been stung. We are ignoring the allergic reaction. We are refusing to use our EpiPen. If we don’t get some adrenalin into our system soon, we’d better be open to a tracheotomy (pardon the pun). Because otherwise, we are opting for death.”
Sounds like something Conan (the Barbarian, not the late night talk show host) would say – “Give me geoengineering, or give me death.”
Ms. Johnston’s blogs, within just a few months have gone from semi-reasonable to irrational to vindictive/nasty and now to outright hysterical. I’m quite concerned where this is all heading – figuratively shooting up with adrenalin or cutting our collective throats open? Why am I reminded of that scene from Pulp Fiction?
And, with the failure of Durban, Copenhagen, Kyoto, etc., it appears Ms. Johnston’s dire prediction of the mounting doom (not to be confused with Tolkien’s Mount Doom) is now spiraling wildly out of control. Is this some kind of runaway, psychological effect caused by people ignoring repeated warnings about the dangers of CO2?
In all seriousness, the physics of CO2 indicate there will be little more warming, due to CO2, over the next century, likely in the 1.2 degree Celsius range. For the past 11 years  temperature has been trending downward in spite of increases in CO2.
What I find fascinating about people like Ms. Johnston, is that their passion so often overcomes logic. Here is a great example from one of her posts: (

1. Paint your roof white, to replace the disappearing 2.5 million square miles of albedo — the heat-reflecting effect of white ice and snow — in the Arctic. No less an expert than Steven Chu, US Secretary of Energy, explains that painting our roofs white would be the equivalent of taking all the cars in the world off the road for 11 years. The simple act of painting roofs white, he says, could have a dramatic impact on the amount of energy used to keep buildings comfortable, as well as directly offsetting global warming by increasing the reflectivity of the Earth.


When I did the math on her above suggestion, I found it would take more than 34 billion, 2,000 square foot homes to equal the 2.5 million square miles.


But, there are only approximately 135 million homes in the US and Canada, and that includes apartments. So, for the sake of this argument, I’ll be generous and say there is about 135,000,000 x 1000 square feet of roof. This works out to be 0.19 percent of the 2.5 million square miles. Therefore, if everyone painted their roofs white, it would have a negligible effect (0.19%) on the albedo effect. Not to mention the cost of the paint, estimated (@ $20/gallon and 350 sf coverage per gallon) at $7,714,285,714,286 – that’s over $8 trillion (including taxes, but not counting labour) and 385 billion gallons (385,714,285,714) of paint.






As I’ve mentioned in other posts, just $1 trillion would feed all of the world’s starving children for 200 years.


And yet, in Ms. Johnston’s compassionate world we should spend $8 trillion on an insignificant and totally fruitless (or is that fruitcake?) exercise because “no less an expert than Steven” somebody-or-other said its a good idea…pardon me…a “simple” act. “Simple” as in naive?


But wait, it gets even better. How much CO2 would be created by the production of the 385 billion gallons of paint? Well, @ 8kg CO2 per gallon, that works out to over 3 billion tonnes of CO2. That’s the equivalent CO2 emissions of 514,285,714 average cars for a full year. At 16 tonnes per year per Canadian, that equals about 6 years of total CO2 emissions for every person in Canada. 6 years of CO2 emissions for a 0.19% increase in albedo.


And for the “yeah buts,” I want to point something out. Sure you can shift the above square footages up or down, but, remember if you increase square footage you increase the amount of paint used and CO2 produced, and, if you decrease square footage you further reduce (< 0.19%) the insignificant effect this would have on warming.


So, its not time to slit our throats, shoot up adrenalin or opt for death. Really Ms. Johnston, calm down, catch your breath and enjoy the Christmas season. Throw another log on the fire and warm up.


It is however perhaps time the rest of us started to ask why we should believe activist teachers, and/or those who can’t, or don’t want to, add, subtract, multiply or divide to save their lives.


PS – Am I the only one who owns a copy of Excel? I mean math can really be fun, and revealing.


One Response to She’s Freakin’ Out Man…$8 Trillion of White Paint?

  1. Paul Marcano says:

    it is quite an exercise in futility when arguing ‘religion’. Happy holidays everyone! Season’s Greetings and looking forward to warmer and longer days ahead Dec. 18th 😉

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