IHS Chemical Week


Global Warming: Obama, Don't Paint the Town Red...but White

10:04 AM MST | January 20, 2009 | By ALEX SCOTT

Where global warming solutions are concerned we may be limited only by our ability to organize and innovate. A prime example of how applying even simple chemistry can be part of the global environmental solution was highlighted recently by Hashem Akbari, research scientist and heat island group leader at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, CA).

Akbari has deduced that using simple chemicals – white paint, to be precise – if applied to 100 of the world’s largest cities would wipe out the effect of the increase in global warming forecast to take place during the next 10 years.  


The white paint would reflect heat back out into the atmosphere, and reduce urban zones so reducing the need to use air-conditioning. Akbari calculates that painting the world’s 100 largest cities white would increase the amount of sunlight reflected by the earth by 0.03%. The move would cancel out warming caused by 44 billion m.t. of CO2, he says. Akbari and two colleagues published the findings in a recent edition of the journal Climatic Change.


Add titanium dioxide nano-particles to your white paint mix and the paint would also act as a ‘smog-buster’ by absorbing toxic chemicals, including nitrous oxides, which are emitted by cars. This would improve the respiratory health of people living in cities as well as keeping them cooler.


“We need to have an organization in place to make it happen,” Akbari says.


It might take a new and inspirational world leader to convert this kind of project into reality.

Perhaps, today we might have found one.

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