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Originally posted here.

As the climate continues to change, temperatures are not increasing equally in all areas. Large cities and urban centers are seeing rising temperatures significantly higher than surrounding areas, in an effect coined “urban heat islands.” By the year 2030, almost 60 percent of people worldwide will live in urbanized areas, and this temperature change will be more than just a matter of comfort; the effect is predicted to be as much as 22 degrees F, independent of greenhouse induced warming. The Journal of Environmental Economics and Management reports that with rising temperatures, tempers will also rise — by 2099, climate change is predicted to cause an additional 22,000 murders and 180,000 cases of rape. So it´s not an idle curiosity that has led researchers to look ahead for effective adaptation strategies.

Because heat islands are primarily created by the absorbtion of sunlight in materials such as concrete, a few of the most effective technologies deal with changing roof technologies. An assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Matei Georgescu, recently conducted a study of roofing materials, and showed that with widespread changes, urban heat islands can be controlled.

“This is the first time all of these approaches have been examined across various climates and geographies,” Georgescu told Arizona State University Press. “We looked at each adaptation strategy and their impacts across all seasons,” he said, “and we quantified consequences that extend to hydrology (rainfall), climate and energy.”

Unsurprisingly, the study found that technologies functioned best when they took into account the specific climate of the location. In California, simply painting your roof white significantly reduces the amount of heat absorbed, but in colder locations, different strategies are needed.  With cool roofs in areas with harsh winters, “The energy savings gained during the summer season,” Georgescu said, are “nearly entirely lost during the winter season [because of additional heating costs].”

As is often the case with environmental “solutions,” Georgescu stressed it´s important to investigate potential consequences. The study also found, for example, that green roofing techniques, in addtion to cooling urban areas, also reduce preciptation by as much as 50 percent. This means in areas sensitive to drought, like Florida, cool roofs might not be the best way to tackle urban heat islands.

A one-size fits all solution to environmental issues are rarely possible, so studies like Georgescu’s continue to be extremely important in tackling how to move forward with climate adaptation strategies.

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Comment Preferences

  •  At one point the US Dept of Energy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper

    had a White Roof program.  I think it was started at the beginning of the Obama administration.  But I never hear a thing about it anymore.  Not from Washington, not from the state of Calif. where you say this should be effective.

    It seems that we are in a stall on fighting global warming and this is just one more area of neglect.  Or maybe I am misinformed…I hope that's the case.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 09:49:28 AM PST

    •  My roof is sealed with a white elastomeric coating (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Radiowalla, BlackSheep1

      The built up roof on my house has a shallow slope and was nearing its expected 15 to 20 years lifespan. Instead of tearing off the roof and installing a new roof I had the roof professionally sealed with a white elastomeric coating to extend its life another 5 to 10 years.

      It cost only about 1/3 of what an entirely new roof would have cost. A tear off to install a new roof would also have created a considerable amount of debris to be taken to the landfill. The elastomeric roof coating made that unnecessary.

      With a white roof my house should be noticeably cooler in the heat of the summer. Here in coastal California I have not noticed any more need to heat the house over the winter.

      I should note that the elastomeric coating my roofing contractor used was a commercial grade product that is higher quality than what may be readily available at a big box home improvement store. They first applied a sealer and then two coats of the elastomeric.

      When it comes time in 5 to10 years to do a maintenance recoat only one coat should be needed. The life of the roof can be extended for many decades to come with periodic maintenance and recoating.

  •  Small steps that each of us take can make a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myboo, Radiowalla, Glen The Plumber

    big difference.  There is a step each of us can take right now that will effect climate change into our future.  The window of opportunity to take this step closes this Friday.  I'm taking the liberty of plugging our Climate Change SOS blogathon happening this week to encourage the submission of comments.  Thanks!  

    XL Pipeline "Public Comments" Blogathon: March 3-7, 2014

    Let your voice be heard by opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline.  
    The deadline for submission of comments is March 7, 2014.

    Writing public comments in opposition to the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline is as easy as posting comments at Daily Kos. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard directly to the White House without interference by the media, lobbyists or the GOP.  We have until March 7 to express our views on whether or not building the big tar sands pipeline is in the vital national interest of the United States.

    In the past, public comments have absolutely made a difference.  Please don't delay as it is the last opportunity to affect this public debate.  Submit your comments today.

    For more helpful tips, please consult "Tips for Submitting Effective Comments" at, the website where you will be posting your comments.  Additional details about some of the guest diarists are in this diary by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.  Image credit: citisven.

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 10:09:35 AM PST

    •  Another small step that each individual can take (0+ / 0-)

      is to eat less meat.  A plant-based diet is a diet that is healthy for our ailing planet.  

      It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

      by Radiowalla on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 12:30:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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