Home Climate Change So Bjorn Lomborg Is Proven Right Once Again

So Bjorn Lomborg Is Proven Right Once Again

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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?

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11 COMMENTS

  1. You keep repeating the same mantra over and over again but it still won’t make it right.
    Wind and solar do not work without subsidies and wind and solar need dispatchable back up – build a 170Mw wind farm, you need 170Mw gas/oil/nuclear/coal for when the wind don’t blow. Until you factor that cost in you are living in La La Land.

    Wattsupwiththat- Germany: “Due to the government mandated coal phase-out, 11 coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 4.7 GW were shut down on January 1, 2021. But the coal phase-out ended up lasting only 8 days, after which several power plants had to be reconnected to the grid due to a prolonged low-wind period”.

  2. “Producing the whitest white means the paint can reflect the maximum amount of sunlight back to space.”

    Yes but it’s still insignificant. We get 25MW of solar incidence for each human being on this planet. Roofs of any colour cover only a relatively minute proportion of the planets surface.

  3. The only problem with the new paint is what happens to it after a decade of bird shit, city pollution, and in places like California, soot from wildfires? Can it survive regular cleaning, or do you need to repaint regularly?

  4. Solar is cheaper than coal after subsidies, yes. I have contacts with NERSA the National Energy Regulator of South Africa and the strike price for solar is about four times that of coal. The cost of that little photoelectric thingy, in the casing, mounted on a gantry, attached to thousands of kilometres of wiring, may have come down but it is one per cent of the cost of a solar installation. The casing, the gantry, the wiring, the control boards and the labour have not come down in price. This is just plain balderdash.

  5. The costs have come down. By putting more panels together into long high voltage strings you need less controller boards and less costly wiring for the same power. Even so climate really matters. Solar in high latitudes with short hours of sun is rubbish compared to good locations. The right climate and cheap low skilled labour makes all the difference. This is how the latest Abu Dhabi solar manages a strike price of 1.35 US cents per kWh.

  6. In tests, it cooled surfaces by 4.5C below the ambient temperature, even in strong sunlight.

    Scam alert.
    So this magic paint breaks the laws of thermodynamics does it? Cools things below ambient?
    What happens if I paint some boxes with it, put one box inside another inside another, and so on, etc.
    Liquid air drops out the bottom?

    Dark surfaces will be heated above ambient by (solar) radiation, but the best possible reflector will merely reduce that heating to (at best) zero, achieving ambient. Until crapped on by pigeons, of course.

    And if solar power is so cheap, how do I put the lights on in the dark?
    Or is there some other magic grid-scale storage mechanism available free?

    Did you see the WUWT article about how Germany mandated the shutdown of 11 coal power stations on1st Jan 2021, and then ordered their re-opening within 8 days? (‘cos the wind stopped blowing).
    The joke is, they aren’t allowed to sell power, so must be subsidised to be kept spinning for inertia. What was the cheapest power on the German grid now needs a subsidy to act as backup. I’m so glad it’s there, not here.
    If only the Germans had a word for schadenfreude!

  7. Coder Tim: Take unglazed pot. Put smaller glazed pot inside. Fill gap between the two with damp sand. Bingo, inside of inner pot is at lower temperature than ambient.

  8. @jgh
    Not sure that’s a fair example, as the water must be replenished as it evaporates, the heat being removed in the latent heat of evaporation. But made me think a bit though 🙂

    In the case of the magic paint: is the paint evaporating and thereby removing heat? Don’t think so. So where does the heat go, if it’s to cool? Is the paint making the surface radiate more energy than it is receiving? That’d be clever…

    In any case, white paint is already very reflective, so what difference does an extra little bit make? If 99% is reflected by bog-standard Dulux, why the fuss over a fraction of the remaining 1%?

    And of course, everywhere is over-supplied with clean, fresh water, for the regular cleaning these surfaces would require: all the roofs around here are covered in moss, algae, lichen etc.
    Mmm, combine the two. Don’t both with the scamtastic paint, just spray water on the roofs: cool by evaporatiion. Bonus: find the leaks in summertime!

  9. It’s possible that from dawn ambient increases faster than the painted surface. Maybe the paint stays behind all day before sunset. It will be increasing due to conduction but pumping out radiation too.

    What else Lomborg said in that book, from memory at least, is that the worst expectation of temp change would be equivalent to travelling about 200km equatorwards.. The difference between this room and the next, or this village and one 200m lower, or the sun going behind a cloud. In other words, trivial. And that is if you accept modelled predictions by enthusiastic disaster-feishists.

  10. OK, so gummints around world are all salivating at thought of subsidies for night-time solar installations. Now if roof colour mattered, why is black the favoured fashion in roofs in Oz. Yet one hears nothing about this stupidity. Our building design code writers are now insisting that proven simple designs be scrapped. ie eaves to keep midday sun off walls.

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