Super Storms, Super powers, and White Roofs

For millions of New Yorkers the name “Sandy” no long evokes the flaxen haired, shaggy, scrap of a pup out of the Annie cartoons. No, on October 29th  the name Sandy became synonymous with one thing and one thing only – a Frankenstorm, that decimated entire neighborhoods, snarled transport for days,

left millions without heat or electricity, and made New Yorkers realize for the third time in a little over decade how vulnerable we are.

Unlike September 11, however, this isn’t a battle we can even thinkof fighting with guns. Unlike the massive 2003 blackout, that spanned 8 states and Canada leaving 55 million people without power,  this isn’t a fight we can tackle with stronger infrastructure – in fact Sandy is a symptom of an infrastructure so highly dependent on carbon emitting fossil fuels that it is shifting our weather to make extremes like Sandy the norm.

Just a week after Sandy, New York was hit again by a far less damaging (but unusual for early November) Nor’easter.

New York for all of its 24-hour, New York minute excesses is a city that prides itself on climactic moderation.

We get snow but not too much.

It gets hot but not for too long.

We get storms but not too strong or too frequently.

But as Sandy, the largest hurricane on record to make its way to the Atlantic Ocean, has shown us that era of moderation is over.

It’s not that climate change “caused” Sandy.

It’s that climate change is changing all weather now. And, because the atmosphere is now wetter and hotter than it used to be extreme weather events like Sandy, or the droughts that wrackedhalf of the country this year, are now increasingly commonplace in much the same way that the X-games normalized extreme sports.

This is where white roofs come in.

Solar reflective roofs (like white roofs) are known to reduce the energy a building uses for cooling, reducing the amount of energy and
climate changing gasses flung into the atmosphere.

As author/educator/activist Bill McKibben has been pointing out for years, the key to reducing the effects of climate change is to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

White roofs help us reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. It really is that simple.

You could even say, that white roofs are like a superpower.

And unlike other climate change mitigation effects, painting your roof white is a relatively low-cost (especially if you DIYit), non-technical, high benefit endeavor.

So what are you waiting for? I mean, we’re talking about saving the world here. Or at least New York.

 


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