Let’s start with some good news for once…..
And just to save time and space, we can put “bad” and “ugly” together and just call it “fugly.” Try not to laugh (or cry) when you read this, because, I’m sorry to have to tell you, but it’s actually more a) genius AND b) diabolical than it appears at first:
Okay, now let’s add a little insult to injury. What are roads and highways MADE of?? Hmm, let me think for a moment. Wait, wait, I’ve got it! Asphalt.
And so, just keeping all of this in the back of your mind, please re-read that article from The Hill about the “Drill and Drive” program, keeping in mind that gas prices are in the toilet, and our elected leaders need to get MORE MONEY to their evil masters, the fossil fuel industry. You really have to give them credit for a totally brilliant plan. They can all finally appear “responsible” and concerned about something other than that silly Keystone XL pipeline which has our entire Congress mesmerized and distracted like a Labrador Retriever eyeing a squirrel outside the kitchen window. Just wait for them to find that perfect moment to start looking all caring and grandfatherly…
like they’re now going to really show US some LOVE, and they’ll start to focus, with laser-like precision, on our nation’s crumbling infrastructure [INSERT lots of righteous indignation, fist-pounding, chest-thumping, cue Ted Nugent waving an American flag with his soul patch twinkling in the sun, and “God Bless America” blaring from the speakers of a brand new Chevy Camaro as it roars down a glistening highway covered with that stinky, wavy, oily film coming off the brand new black pavement].
It’s practically a “win-win-win,” politically:
1) America gets some newly paved roads and highways so we can just drive more and more (yippee);
2) Oil companies get to drill for lots more oil;
3) These same oil companies also get paid to resurface the whole damn country…every inch they can get their oily black hands on;
Except for one thing that makes this a really awful “plan” for almost all of us. The planet will just continue to get hotter and hotter because of numbers 1, 2 and 3.
Now, have you ever wondered WHY every road is paved BLACK and, thus, stays so darn hot, holding the heat in and polluting waterways with toxic runoff, to boot? Roofs, too. Hot. Black. Retaining too much heat, keeping it all right there, where it creates something called the Heat Island Effect. You can thank the fossil fuel companies for that. They have an enormous lobbying campaign and truckloads of money and paid shills to make sure that a) your roof stays black, made with petroleum products, and b) your roads stay black and made with petroleum products, and c) parking lots, runways, airports, state fairs, side streets…all of it, black, hot, dirty, toxic, and polluting.
How do I know this? Well, the story behind that ugly lesson is basically what led me “here,” to you, the reader, where I decided to write about what I had come to realize. Last summer, at the suggestion of my four kids, I decided to devote all of my available time to combating climate change. In fact, I promised my kids that I would fix this situation. And as one of my daughters said to herself as she hugged me, “well, you’ve never let us down before, so I know it’s gonna be okay.” Talk about pressure.
I decided to start a business, hoping to pair my passion for this issue with my need to pay for four kids college tuition (as a single mom), and so I became a federal contractor. I filled out all the forms, got the approvals, credentials, etc., and so, there I was, all ready to start saving the planet. I had spent months researching and trying to find out how “best” to help. Somewhere along that crazy route, and after talking to countless agency heads, scientists, scholars, researchers, basically, tons of people from Alaska to Moscow to Australia, I came across a remarkable woman (Actually, the President of a non-profit organization in D.C. whispered her name to me. He wasn’t, technically, supposed to advocate for, or be “partial” to any one person or company) who had researched, developed, and begun marketing an actual solution to all that HOT, polluting asphalt. Her name is Sheri Roese and her company is called Emerald Cities Cool Pavements (their website is: http://emeraldcoolpavements.com).
I actually had the honor of getting to know Sheri. She is an incredible woman, brimming with passion and conviction about helping to save this planet, which she clearly loves so much. She, like me (in the words of Buckminster Fuller), “dared to be naive” and she believed she could make real change happen. She had worked for years to bring her nano technology to market, with solid research and data to support the fact that her products would, indeed, help bring down temperatures and CO2 levels in cities across America, along with decrease the need to extract and refine the fossil fuel products needed to make the asphalt. And, at the onset, there was a lot of support and excitement from our government, and from offices such as the US Department of Energy. Here is a YouTube video of then Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu touting the benefits of cool roofs and pavements: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wDIkKroOUQ
But then a funny thing happened on the way to revolutionizing how America paves its roadways, and, by extension, helps cool the planet. As Sheri’s Emerald Cities “dream” became a reality, it also became a threat to the status quo. And so, this truly beautiful idea, which would have changed, literally, everything you see when you look out your car window, and which she had so carefully nurtured like a rare and exotic flower, but which had also always run alongside powerful enemies, got the life stomped out of it by those who had the most at stake, like the American Petroleum Institute.
Just at the very moment when Emerald Cities was about to make a real difference in the world, it came to a grinding, screeching halt as all of her best efforts were blocked time and time again, and bogus “research papers” began to circulate claiming that her technology wouldn’t work, and might even be dangerous.
As I learned more about the story of Emerald Cities, and not just from Sheri, but also from those who witnessed what had happened to her, I realized that there was absolutely no way for me, personally, to work within that system, which is corrupt, broken down and rotted to its core. And I got angry. Or should I say MORE angry, because for all the good people, the hard-working and dedicated scientists out in the field, the brilliant inventors of alternative fuel sources, the dreamers (like me), and for all those who dare not “look away” from what we’re up against, which is our own extinction, there are a hundred vultures waiting to swoop down and destroy what could have been a really incredible view…
To learn more about Emerald Cities and cool roof and pavement technology, please check out some of these websites:
Emerald Cities demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS_kRB-slco
Daily Kos article about cool pavements:
Department of Energy article: http://energy.gov/articles/cool-roofs-lead-cooler-cities
NASA’s literal view of cool roofs:
EPA page about the Urban Heat Island effect:
Lawrence Berkeley National Labs cool pavement page: