Back when Bjorn Lomborg brought out the Sceptical Environmentalist my word how people laughed. He pointed out that well, actually, solar power had been declining in price by 20% a year, 4% or so a quarter, for a couple of decades. There was simply no reason to think that this wouldn’t continue, there was something akin to Moore’s Law at work.
Fast forward to today, a couple of decades later, and solar power has been declining in price by about 20% a year and we see no reason for that to stop. This past couple of decades has made solar cheaper than coal – so many say at least. At which point the climate change problem is largely solved. We just now need to wait for the coal plants to fall over, as all capital assets do, they’ll be replaced by the cheaper solar and we’re done.
Lomborg plus Nordhaus – who insisted on working with the capital cycle – works.
Another Lomborg assertion that caused much giggling – how could anyone be so stupid? – was that if we painted roofs white then this would lower temperatures. Not just in the buildings themselves, but the global temperature:
The whitest-ever paint has been produced by academic researchers, with the aim of boosting the cooling of buildings and tackling the climate crisis.
The new paint reflects 98% of sunlight as well as radiating infrared heat through the atmosphere into space. In tests, it cooled surfaces by 4.5C below the ambient temperature, even in strong sunlight. The researchers said the paint could be on the market in one or two years.
White-painted roofs have been used to cool buildings for centuries. As global heating pushes temperatures up, the technique is also being used on modern city buildings, such as in Ahmedabad in India and New York City in the US.
Currently available reflective white paints are far better than dark roofing materials, but only reflect 80-90% of sunlight and absorb UV light. This means they cannot cool surfaces below ambient temperatures. The new paint does this, leading to less need for air conditioning and the carbon emissions they produce, which are rising rapidly.
“Our paint can help fight against global warming by helping to cool the Earth – that’s the cool point,” said Prof Xiulin Ruan at Purdue University in the US. “Producing the whitest white means the paint can reflect the maximum amount of sunlight back to space.”
How, err, cool, eh?
Wonder what else he got right in that book?