Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Things we can do about Global Warming

I believe the real issues in the Global Warming debate is not the science of the debate itself, but the proposed solution- the Kyoto Accords. Kyoto would have little or no effect on Global Warming while crippling the American economy- this is not a conservative or Republican position; when presented to the Senate during the Clinton years it was voted down 99-0. But there are things we could do that would actually lower greenhouse gasses while simultaneously bringing us closer to energy independence- a win-win!

Passive Solar:

Everyone knows that black things absorb heat more readily than white or reflective surfaces; what is possibly less well known is that black also radiates heat away more efficiently- that’s why the radiator in your car is painted black. What’s my point? Look at every house you pass- three quarters of them have black roofs! Not only are these houses absorbing heat in the summer sun, they radiate the heat away in the winter nights! Tests were conducted back in the Carter years, during the first energy crisis- identical row houses were given brand new roofs; one white, one black. The White roof had lower heating and cooling bills- up to 25% lower. Business after business has confirmed this experience in the 30 years since then. This is why you’re now seeing white roofs on school buses; this is why sports domes have white roofs, no matter what the team colors are. Why not give a huge tax incentive to homeowners to replace their black roofs with white ones? There may be a few holdouts who think a white roof is weird- but if the incentive is large enough, almost everyone will comply. That alone would save enough air conditioning demands on the electric grid to stop those summer rolling blackouts and brownouts. That alone would save enough heating oil and natural gas in the winter to stop those annual price spikes. The average American’s greatest energy expenditure is home heating and cooling; this is also true for most small businesses- the savings will be huge.

Removing the carbon from the air:

Many people don’t realize it, but the trees get their mass from the air, not the ground; the ground provides only an anchor and trace minerals- the plant equivalent of vitamins. Every tree planted removes hundreds or even thousands of pounds of carbon from the air, every ten square yards of leaf provide enough oxygen for one person. There are literally hundreds of thousands of square miles of grassland and prairie in America that could become planted forests. Areas that cannot support trees can still be used in this program-
Look at all the empty buildings where businesses have gone under; every one has a huge parking lot. Some of them sit idle for years... and all that expanse of empty unused paving, thousands of acres worth, is nothing but a massive heat sink in the hot sun, raising the temperature of the entire city. You can actually see the heat roiling off them in the summer.

Why not roll turf over the parking lot until the place is rented again? Converting those parking lots into temporary lawns will dramatically reduce the surface temperature of all the surrounding properties, beautify an eyesore, and give children a safe place to play. When handed lemons- a business going under- make lemonade; turn the parking lot into a public park! Park? The eastside of Indianapolis has so many businesses closed we could turn it into a prairie!

Turning it back into a place of business when the time comes will not be difficult- the blacktop is still there, just under a couple inches of turf; a front loader or bobcat will turn it back into a parking lot in no time. If you think no one would be willing to pay for the turf, try having a donation box to check on the state tax forms, like the presidential matching funds box on the federal forms. I’d donate, and I bet a lot of other people would, too.

These and many similar proposals have been around for decades; why has there been no action? Because they aren’t big exciting vote-getters? Because activists are motivated more by hatred of multinational corporations than love of the Earth? I don’t know.


Christine Robinson said...

Also, I have to add speculating about someone else "hating", just because they disagree with you is a cheap trick, whether is is liberals (who do this a lot less but do sometimes assume that people "hate" Gays when they are opposed to Gay rights) or conservatives (who do this a lot more, from assuming that war resisters "hate" their country to assuming that people who care about the ecology "hate" corporations.

In the absence of hateful words and deeds, we really ought to assume that the people who disagree with us, simply disagree with us. Saying they "hate" is an ad hominum arguement.

I'm passionate about the envronment, and have no hatred for big business. I don't want them to ruin our ecology, that's all.

Christine Robinson said...

My first comment disappeared, but it was, these are good ideas and we need them all.

I also once heard that for the cost of a new nuclear power plant, every household in the state of California that owned a refrigerator over 5 years old could be given a new one, and if that were done, there would be no need for a new nuclear power plant. But that didn't happen, either.

Joel Monka said...

Good points, we do need them all. The practical solutions are out there- my truck, for example, has the ability to burn both gasoline and E-85; it would cost virtually nothing extra to make all new cars do so. My TV and all other appliances I could find like it do not have the "instant on"- it's worth waiting for them to warm up rather than having them consume electricty keeping them warm even when "turned off".

I don't assume all others hate- it just confuses me that we can see all the effort made to organize protests and riot G-8 meetings, etc., and can't get anyone energized to work for the doable things we have right now.