WHY ARE SIMPLE ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTIONS ALWAYS CONTROVERSIAL?

Brad Plumer's got a post in defense of Energy Secretary Steven Chu's proposal that we paint our roofs white. Sez Brad:

To give an easy example, just refitting the 30 billion or so square feet of commercial roof space in the United States would be the equivalent of taking roughly 75 million cars off the road for a year. And, as a bonus, buildings with white roofs tend to stay 30 percent cooler than their black-topped counterparts during the summer, which curtails energy use. Obviously this wouldn't stop global warming, but on the list of pain-free measures that would make a fair bit of inroads on the problem, this has to rank very high up there.

People were mocking Chu for his prosaic-but-effective idea, which recalls the fracas around Obama's campaign suggestion that Americans check their tire pressure to make sure their cars were running as efficiently as possible. The RNC and Rush Limbaugh had a field day with that suggestion, even though it was true that it would be a helpful move. I have a hard time figuring out why these kinds of ideas are considered laughable -- anything to score a political point, I suppose. You'd think people who oppose big-government plans like cap-and-trade would want to encourage relatively simple measures to solve the problems of global warming and our unsustainable energy regime. Oh, but they don't believe that global warming and sustainability are actually problems. Sigh.

-- Tim Fernholz

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