The Gravitas Gap

THE GRAVITAS GAP….Mark Kleiman notes two little-noticed ways of conserving energy: planting trees in cities and lightening dark asphalt surfaces with chalk dust. Both reduce heat, and thus reduce the need for energy-hungry air conditioning, but both also require a fair amount of political organization:

There’s a big political problem here. A candidate who says he’s going to deal with our energy problem by drilling in ANWR will have his opinion taken seriously by reporters and pundits, even though the actual contribution of such drilling to reducing imports is trivial. But a national-level politician who proposed tree-planting or chalk dust would wind up the butt of jokes on late-night TV. Somehow the ideas lack gravitas. I have no clear idea what to do about that.

That’s true, isn’t it? Despite the supposed liberal tilt of our news media, reporters have a habit of treating liberal solutions to problems far less seriously than conservative solutions. The same thing happens in foreign policy, where conservative ideas (invade Iraq, bomb Iran, etc.) are accorded a respect they don’t deserve, while liberal ideas are frequently treated as little more than pro forma responses. Like Mark, I have no clear idea what to do about this.

UPDATE: Reader Daniel Schacht passes along some home-brew experiments he did that show just how effective it can be to replace dark roofing material with lighter material. The difference is dramatic.