The Sun, our only external source of energy, is also responsible for the heat on Earth. This heat is what makes all life possible on our blue planet. However, this energy is also responsible for global warming. Imagine cities reflecting this sunlight away from Earth.
A team of researchers from Concordia University did some research on what effects a global change in the surface reflectivity will bring. The findings of this research were published in the journal Environmental Research Letters published by IOP Publishing under the heading “The long-term effect of increasing the albedo of urban areas”. By increasing the albedo of urban areas, the temperature inside buildings dramatically decreases, thus reducing the need to use energy on cooling mechanisms.
The simulation results were outstanding. By increasing the albedo of every urban area by 0.1 it is possible to have a CO2 offset ranging from 130 to 150 billion tons. Albedo is measured on a scale ranging from 0 for a non-reflecting, perfectly black surface to 1 for a perfectly white surface. This is roughly equivalent to taking every car off the road for the next 50 years. In carbon trading, this amount of CO2 alone is worth around $3500 billion.
Changing rooftops and paved surfaces globally looks like a very hard goal to reach. But with help from local governments, planning institutes and relevant authorities this is an achievable concept that would change the course of humankind. Professor Hashem Akbari, the leading author of the paper, stated “It is all based on planning, codes and policies. If we really put the nuts and bolts in place, we can get close to 100 per cent of urban areas increasing the albedo of surfaces.”