Geoengineering may be a Hot Topic, but just how new is it ?
California's Cool Cities initiative makes microclimate modification with paint and shade trees sound like a cutting edge discovery , but dig around and you'll find the first such municipal ordinance was drafted by Solon The Lawgiver circa 780 BC, , and that in 1498, Christopher Columbus complained that Jamaica was getting hotter because trees were being cut down.
I didn't have to dig that far to uncover a certain lack of novelty in Bjorn Lomborg's last Guardian article, though I'm in no position to complain of his choice of subject -- I've invited Bjorn to dig around in Adamant 's Geoengineering sidebar for some more columns
FORBES 08.21.00 GUARDIAN 11.18.07
PAINT THE TOWN WHITE PAINT IT WHITE
RUSSELL SEITZ BJORN LOMBORG
the greenhouse effect is not driven by fossil fuel burning, but by the power of the sun..The real problem is Earth's low albedo--it reflects only a small fraction of the sun's energy because most of its surface is dark compared to a snowfield or a coat of white paint.
Although it may seem almost comically straightforward, one of the best temperature-reducing approaches is very simple: paint things white.
Such white surfaces reflect three times as much as bare rock or desert soil, and up to ten times as much as deep water or black asphalt paving.
Cities have a lot of black asphalt and dark, heat-absorbing structures. By increasing reflection and shade, a great deal of heat build-up can be avoided.
we could lighten up the hundreds of thousands of square miles of roofs and roadways that already exist, starting with those expanses of asphalt that already contribute to cities being warmer than the countryside.
By increasing reflection and shade, a great deal of heat build-up can be avoided. Paint most of a city and you could lower the temperature by 10C.
this "White House Effect"...can suffice to raise the reflectiveness of most natural surfaces from 25% or less to 75% or more, at a materials cost on the order of around $250,000 per square mile. America's annual per capita share of such a global solution would cost as much as a couple of gallons of gas.... some things are cheaper than energy conservation.
These options are simple, obvious, and cost-effective. Consider Los Angeles. Reroofing... would lower air conditioning costs by about $170m and...lower LA temperatures by about 3C - or about the temperature increase envisioned for the rest of this century...we don't hear much about the smartest choices when it comes to addressing global warming.