Tuesday, March 8, 2011
White roof campaign launches in western Queens
What's in white roof painting for you? A lot. You don't even have to mention climate change. Roofs painted white are cooler in summer, so their buildings are cooler, use less air conditioning, have lower electric bills, and burn less carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Climate change groups have lists of people who like to go out and paint roofs on a weekend. The City has a program which coordinates the whole thing, providing expert supervision, project management, roof inspection, paint purchase and so on. The City will send work crews out to paint building roofs, as long as the building owners will buy the paint, and share their before and after electric bills.
My theory is that by promoting a tangible project that offers something to everyone, white roof painting can bridge the huge gap between climate change activists and conventional citizens. The trial run: last year, several volunteer groups pitched in and painted the roofs of four buildings, in collaboration with 350.org's International 10/10 International Day of Climate Action. This spring is the full NYC test. Or at least the full Queens test.
Not Mayor Bloomberg. Guess again please.
What's the yield if it works? A model for climate change activists to organize NYC civic networks at the neighborhood level, getting beyond NYC's very small environmental activist community.
This week I was at two events. One was a panel about how NYC agencies are preparing City infrastructure for severe weather, floods and climate change events. Very wonky, and very far from the public discussion. Another was a get together with about twenty green activists. Less wonky, but equally far from the majority of the public. In both cases, a vivid reminder about how few New Yorkers are really tracking these issues.