Fighting Global Warming with Pavement

A new color scheme for our roads and highways could take some of the heat off Earth's climate.

You may not have given it much thought, but your boistrous lifestyle runs at about 10 kilowatts, day and night. Thirteen horsepower, if you prefer equine units.That's the average power consumed by each man, woman, and child in the United States-the energy burden of everything you do and use-from heating up dinner and cooling your apartment, to dashing out to the convenience store in your candy red Bugatti. And while some of that energy is used for illumination, the overwhelming majority degrades to heat.Consider: At the end of an all-day drive, what happened to the chemical energy in the tank of gas you bought before breakfast? It's gone into heating up the engine, the tires, the brakes, and the air pushed out of the way by the hood ornament. Virtually all of the calories in that refined natural resource you bought for $3 a gallon end up warming the atmosphere.Our energy burn is impressive. The residents of a burg the size of Baltimore pump out 5 billion watts of heat just to enjoy life, or about 20 times the total sunlight beating down on the city. World-wide, our species is toasting Earth's atmosphere at the rate of 10 trillion watts. That's a lot of BTU pleasure.OK, the heat's on. We know that, and we've all heard the standard approaches to dealing with our profligate ways.But here's my odd idea of something we could do that isn't so standard: implement a pavement plan to mitigate atmospheric heating.It goes like this: We've been busy for nearly a century covering the civilized world with highways and byways. If you laid all the hard-surface roads in the United States end to end, they'd stretch for 2.5 million miles. That pavement covers a lot of ground, quite literally, and amounts to nearly one percent of our country's total acreage (for comparison, the national parks total four percent).Now you may have noticed that many of those motorways are pretty dark. Indeed, the reflectance of most roads is roughly 20 percent; that is, they return only about one-fifth of the sunlight hitting them. But the stripes that skip down their centerlines have a reflectance of about 50 percent, as measured with my camera's light meter. That's why you can see these pavement markings: they're twice as bright as the asphalt.So here's my idea: we just invert this situation, and construct white pavement with black stripes.Not only will this improve your ability to follow the road at night (while simultaneously lining the pockets of construction workers nationwide), it will more than double the amount of sunlight reflected by roads-and thereby reduce the amount of atmospheric heating.How much? Well, my back-of-the-napkin calculation suggests inverting the pavement color scheme would bounce an additional 5 trillion watts skyward.Is that significant? You bet your Wellingtons. NASA has recently estimated that the Greenland ice sheet is currently melting at the alarming rate of 50 cubic miles of ice per year. Invoke a bit of high school physics, and you can figure that 2 trillion watts of continuous heating will melt that volume of ice. But merely by changing the color of pavement, we can reduce the amount of atmospheric heating by roughly three times that amount.In other words, we could save the Greenland ice cap with road crews. Sounds pretty cool to me, and this project is shovel-ready.Now … want to hear about my mirror roof tiles?Guest blogger Seth Shostak is a Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute. He is the author of Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and hosts SETI's radio show Are We Alone?
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

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We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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