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Study: white rooftops could curb climate change

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(Read caption) White roofs in Bermuda. The roofs are made from limestone and are built specifically to catch rainwater which is then used for drinking water.

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If the world's 100 biggest cities were to whiten the roofs of all of their buildings and use more reflective pavement, the global cooling effect would be huge, a new study has concluded.

Speaking at the Fifth Annual California Climate Change Research Conference in Sacramento, Hashem Akbari, a physicist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said that he has created a formula to determine how much heat-trapping carbon dioxide would be offset by reflecting the solar radiation back into space. In his presentation [PDF], he said that replacing the dark shingles on a 1,000-square-foot roof – the average size of an American home – with white material would offset 10 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

His paper, "Global Cooling: Increasing Worldwide Urban Albedos to Offset CO2," will be published in the journal Climatic Change.

While this may sound like greenwashing (but with whitewash), the potential savings here are huge. The LA Times walks us through the numbers:

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