Perhaps not surprisingly, given his long tenure at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, Energy Secretary Steven Chu is making news for pushing what many think is a “triple play” climate change winner: cool roofs. As LBNL researchers have shown, making roofs more heat-reflective cools the earth dramatically, reduces energy consumption (by reducing air conditioning), and makes cities more healthful by combating the urban heat island effect.
Transforming a regular roof into a “cool roof” means painting or surfacing it a lighter color, though recent advances mean that cool roofs are now available in many colors, not just white. As Climate Progress discusses here, lightening roofs is an easy step we should be taking now to address climate change. It’s relatively easy, cheap, available, and effective.
But check out the play that climate skeptic Steven Milloy (billed as a science expert) gets in this story on Fox News, criticizing Chu’s remarks and treating cool roofs as some batty, off-the-cuff idea:
Milloy says he’s certain that it would be a huge waste of time and money. “How would this accomplish anything? What’s the expense?” he asks. “This shows you how even Nobel winners get lost when they step outside their fields of expertise.” . . . “What if we do this, and solar activity decreases?” he wonders. “We need sunlight to make vitamin D. Plants need it to make photosynthesis.” . . . “It sounds like some dubious global-warming calculation that someone made on the back of an envelope.”
I understand why skeptics might rally the troops to resist transformative changes like carbon caps and cap-and-trade bills, but is there a powerful dark-roof lobby I don’t know about? Why the hostility? And what is he talking about re decreased solar activity?