Bjorn Again

Bjorn Lomborg\’s piece is most amusing. Simple, cheap and effective things we could do to reduce urban temperatures. Pretty much a summary of part of his latest book.

Of course, the Greenies will hate it. Simply using white roof tiles instead of dark isn\’t the sort of societal change that they so clearly desire.

11 comments on “Bjorn Again

  1. Just started to read Bjorn’s most recent tome (thanks to your clever reviewing Tim). It seems you were right to point out the greens intense dislike of his solutions – doesn’t involve big funding and points out a very simple solution involving the future planning of city infrastructure. What shocks me is the viciousness with which they attack his ideas, or, more accurately, himself and his motives.

    It also points out extreme scientific ignorance – I finished high school in the beginning years of the NuLabour government and even I was taught about the principle of black body radiation, heat capacity and thermodynamics.

    Tim adds: Well, that’s why the publishers send me the books, to get you reading them…..:-)

  2. As your resident green, I think you guys need to calm down. I am not going to attack Bjorn: in fact I think he’s quite cuddly, and his idea (not of course original ) of painting roofs white is cool.

    However his take on urban heat islands is a little extreme. I have heard this stuff about big cities being 10°C warmer than the surrounding countryside, but I have never experienced it. Have you? This afternoon London is the same temperature as us, 60 miles away in the middle of nowhere (according to my weather widget).

  3. Well, it hardly ever snows in London anymore. Unlike when we were kids and trudging to school through it every day. So there must be something to it.

  4. MarkB, I am surprised that you have not noticed it.

    There is even a marked difference in temperature between the residential estate where I live and the High Road a couple of hundred yards away where all the shops & traffic is.

    I thought that this was common knowledge.

  5. Let us suppose that the heat island effect is as pronounced as he thinks. Therefore the absorbtivity of our cities is high.
    Now if we painted the cities white, the absorbtivity would decrease, and the emissivity would increase. More energy would be reflected into the atmosphere. Wouldn’t the net effect be close to zero? The energy wouldn’t vanish, it would be dispersed elsewhere.

  6. It’s an interesting point. As I understand it (and that’s not saying a lot), a lot of reflected radiant energy gets sent straight back into space. The whole point about the greenhouse effect is that CO2, despite being only a trace element in the atmosphere, absorbs a significant amount of this reflected energy, hence the reason increasing CO2 levels cause global warming.

    So painting the roofs white in cities may make the cities a little cooler, but it has no effect on carbon emissions. In fact, it could make them worse because whilst we want cities to be cooler in high summer, we like them warmer in mid winter, so it may end up with heating systems being on longer.

    The thing about Bjorn Lomborg that grates is that, whilst he is undoubtedly an original thinker, he is also consciously pitching himself against so-called “celebrity environmentalists.” But this is a very short list. After Al Gore, where exactly do you go? In fact the second best known name in this field is now Bjorn Lomborg. I think his analysis is probably as valid as anyone else’s, but why does he have to tilt at windmills the whole time, as if only he has the truth and everyone else is an idiot.

  7. MarkBrinkley, Live Earth must have been a figment of my imagination if, as you say, Al Gore is the only “celebrity environmentalist”.

    Genesis, Razorlight, Snow Patrol, Damien Rice, David Gray, Sting, James Blunt, Madonna and many others performed at Live Earth. Presenters included Boris Becker (that well-known DJ), Jonathan Ross, David Tennant and Ricky Gervais. What are these people if not “Celebrity Environmentalists”? Other than his views, what is it that distinguishes Bjorn Lomborg from Tim Flannery or George Monbiot? Other than his scientific background, not too much.

    Whatever one’s views on global warming – you have yours and I have mine – I would say that those above, together with the hundreds of similar people I’ve not mentioned, are valid targets for Lomborg. They don’t know the first thing about the science, or about science in general, but they are quite happy to use Global Warming to raise their own profile, make money and abuse their position by telling us all what to do. I’m unsure about Lomborg’s White Roof Theory – I agree with you on that one by and large – but I’m right beside him on the celebrity environmentalist issue.

  8. Heron,

    These guys are celebrities for sure, but celebrity environmentalists? I don’t think so. And yes, I hate events like Live Earth too – enough to make your flesh crawl with all that bandwagon jumping.

    Stephen,

    Point well made. There really are no celebrity environmentalists. So who the hell is Lomborg taking a pop at? Bono? James Blunt?

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