She’s Freakin’ Out Man…$8 Trillion of White Paint?
December 5, 2011 1 Comment
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” – http://blog.greenhearted.org/), has just published a blog post, which includes the following:
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.