Chu’s Whitewash

May 28, 2009

CHU is neglecting his duty! D.

Chu’s Whitewash


Energy Savings: Steven Chu sees a dark roof and wants it painted white. Are we to understand that the U.S. secretary of energy believes that a function of his office is to bat about impractical ideas?

Chu, a Nobel-winning physicist running the Obama Energy Department, suggested this week that — in terms of the greenhouse effect — painting roofs and bleaching road surfaces worldwide would have the same impact as taking every car off the road for more than a decade.

“If you look at all the buildings, and if you make the roofs white, and if you make the pavement more of a concrete type of color rather than a black type of color, if you do that uniformly, that would be the equivalent of . . . reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years — just taking them off the road for 11 years,” he told a Nobel symposium in London.

The idea is that the white roofs and light roads would reflect heat back into space where it wouldn’t contribute to the global warming that’s alleged to be occurring. White roofs would also lower energy use in air-conditioned structures with dark roofs that absorb heat.

Doesn’t America’s energy czar have better things to do than throw out loopy ideas about solving a problem that doesn’t exist?

This country didn’t have an energy secretary until Congress, at the urging of Jimmy Carter, created the Energy Department in 1977, and it got along fine before the position was established.

But now that we have one and it isn’t going away, it seems that an energy secretary’s time should be spent ensuring that the nation has a steady supply of affordable energy — opening markets and sources, not closing them — rather than chasing windmills.

But then, talking about increasing wind and sun power is what passes for Chu’s efforts to ensure the nation’s energy supply isn’t interrupted.

We’re not questioning whether white roofs on buildings and cars can save energy. But we have reservations about how that goal would be reached. Would white roofs be required by law? And what would the costs be? We don’t know and, as far as we can tell, Chu doesn’t say.

What we do know, however, is that this country has plenty of oil and coal, cheap sources that can keep the nation moving ahead for decades. Any energy secretary who does not actively try to unlock these resources is neglecting his or her duty.


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