Saturday, December 15, 2007

Climate change opportunities

Whether you think that climate deal signed in Bali is a success for the fight against climate warming or a failed opportunity to specify the future steps, it is definitely positive that there is at least some sense of consensus now between the key players in the World. We share one climate on the planet so it is quite futile to tackle its problems one country at a time.
I do not entirely agree that the US has been doing nothing to fight the climate change so far. In addition to various schemes on state level (in California and the north-east), there is now America's Climate Security Act discussed in Congress (and sponsored by a Republican) and also the presidential candidates are promoting their own ideas how to reduce the emission of green-house gases (read more here). On company level Americans are probably even more active than Europeans to suggest different environmental initiatives.
I just read an article by Bjorn Lomborg - probably the most pragmatic environmental thinker i've read. He points out that while the world is worried about expected 2.6C increase of average temperature over next hundred years, most urban areas in the world have experienced much more dramatic temperature hikes during past few decades. For example Beijing is roughly 10C hotter than nearby countryside during daytime and during summer Tokyo can be even 12.5C hotter than surrounding areas. Interestingly cities have coped with these changes quite well. Thanks to better health-care and technology, there are now less heat-related deaths than previously.
But cities also offer a good way of tackling the climate change. As one of the reasons why cities are so hot, is the dark tarmac and building materials that absorb a lot of heat. So an obvious remedy would be to pain the cities white. It turns out that it is not as pointless suggestion that it sounds:
Re-roofing most of Los Angeles’s five million homes in lighter colors, painting a quarter of the roads and planting 11 million trees would have a one-time cost of about $1 billion. Each year after that, this would lower air conditioning costs by about $170 million and provide $360 million in smog-reduction benefits. And it would lower LA temperatures by about 3°C – or about the temperature increase envisioned for the rest of this century.

Compare that to the $180 billion cost of implementing the Kyoto Protocol, which will have virtually no effect.

1 comment:

Ava said...

Well written article.