Frequently Asked Questions
We have evaluated white paint, but do not think it is an effective climate solution and it is less effective than mirrors for various reasons:
- Surfaces require repainting every few years which can lead to increased costs, resource usage, and negative impacts from paint production.
- Paint thinner is usually toxic and contains fossil fuels. While a "low-impact paint" could be created, it would not be a direct replacement for glass or polymer mirrors.
- To make a significant impact on the climate, using white paint is limited to rooftops since there isn't enough petroleum to produce enough thinner for a larger surface area.
- Painting for crop protection and enhancement is a complex process. Suitable surfaces must be available, which can increase costs. Painting bodies of water or frozen areas is not feasible.
- Even though the whitest paint is as reflective as mirrors, the scattered light from the paint surface reduces its ability to transfer heat-creating solar radiation back into space, making it less effective.
- Using white paint on surfaces in urban areas, aside from rooftops, is not recommended due to the scatter radiation it produces. This can lead to discomfort and overheating for pedestrians.
While saving rainforests and preserving natural habitats are crucial, simply planting trees is not an effective solution for combating global warming. This approach does not meet the speed, scalability, and effectiveness criteria needed to address this urgent crisis. Rather than focusing on ineffective measures such as tree planting, we should prioritize practical efforts like those made by MEER. Non-effective measures risk undermining these efforts by distracting from the allocation of time, energy, money, and materials.
For related information on this subject:
Yale e360 article "Why Ambitious Tree Planting Projects are Failing".
We don't believe solar agrivoltaics is a practical solution for global warming. Solar agrivoltaics is the practice of using the same land for two purposes: growing crops and generating electricity. By combining these two activities, the land can be used more efficiently to produce food and energy simultaneously.
Solar panels cannot cancel out heat-creating solar radiation like solar reflectors because they do not reflect sunlight. On the contrary, solar panels are made of light-absorbing materials. They are typically dark in color, which causes their surface to become hotter than other typical Earth surfaces where solar panels are placed, such as soil, grassy fields, and roofs. While the electricity produced by solar panels results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuel production and does not create greenhouse gasses like burning fossil fuels does, it does not necessarily slow or stop the current trend of rising temperatures on Earth, which could lead to extinction.
The issue at hand is the short amount of time we have to prevent extinction due to global warming. Any strategy aimed at stopping it must keep this in mind. Simply switching to "clean" energy is not enough to solve the problem within our time frame. For more information, please refer to our First Principles.
No. It is crucial to decrease emissions and shift towards clean energy. However, due to past inactivity and denial of climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning from fossil fuels may not significantly lower Earth's temperature enough before it becomes too late.
Even if we quickly reduce emissions and shift to clean energy, without a plan like MEER's to keep thermal energy out, Earth's temperatures will rise to a point that could potentially end civilization or at least destroy much of it.
Humanity's survival is a top priority. MEER is here to help with immediate protection while we also work towards sustaining life on Earth for future generations. This requires reducing emissions, improving energy sources and practices, and transitioning from a competitive to a cooperative civilization that enhances life.
Reflectors can cool down structures and the air inside them if placed on top of buildings like homes, barns, and even playgrounds. However, it's important to note that this cooling effect may be limited if the exposed sides of a building are not protected. The cooling effect is also strongest on the top floor directly beneath the reflectors. It isn't easy to accurately measure the impact of uncooled air in the surrounding area.
Indoor mirrors have been known to last for centuries, while outdoor mirrors can last for decades. MEER plans to use durable reflectors that can last many years and withstand normal wear and tear, such as weather, dust, dirt, and bird droppings. However, these time estimates do not include unforeseen accidents or extreme weather events. The PET sheeting developed by MEER has anti-soiling agents that help maintain a high Albedo level for extended periods outdoors. It is also self-cleaning and able to be washed by rainwater, reducing the need for manual intervention and energy consumption. The sheeting is expected to last 5 to 15 years and outperform painted surfaces.
Cleaning the MEER reflectors is not essential, as their angled position allows for natural cleaning through the effects of rain, dew, and wind. This feature of MEER ensures that the reflectors remain clean without needing manual cleaning. However, automated cleaning systems can be implemented for more extensive installations to ensure that the reflectors are in optimal condition. Such systems provide a more efficient and effective way of maintaining the reflectors, which can ultimately increase the lifespan and performance of the MEER system.
Placing a reflector, like a mirror, on a rooftop or in an open space to reflect sunlight away from Earth may seem simple, but it involves several considerations. The reflector should be angled towards the sun to reflect light away from the planet at a close to perpendicular angle. Reflectors with automated angle-tracking systems are even more efficient, but they come at an added cost and may not be desirable due to their carbon footprint during production.
When installing reflectors, it's important to consider the method of installation. Placing them flat on the ground is not recommended due to safety concerns. Installing them on rooftops can also be risky as they might get blown away during storms, leading to harm or damage. Therefore, safety should be a top priority during installation. Currently, MEER is overseeing its specific in field projects in collaboration with local governments and thus does not advise do-it-yourself MEER installation at home. In the future, MEER may pursue this.
The idea of using mirrors or other reflectors have been around for decades and is often referred to as Solar Radiation Management (SRM). One idea was to put mirrors in space, but this proved infeasible. There have been groups researching stratospheric aerosol injections to reflect sunlight back into space by flying an airplane to release aerosols into the stratosphere. We believe this technology is far away and would require a lot of energy to maintain. More akin to MEER has been white paint such as programs in New York City. The issue with white paint was discussed in an FAQ above. There is also a private company producing very high quality reflective mirrors for data centers and other commercial needs for high cooling. However, the costs are prohibitively high for urban heat reduction and other more basic needs.