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California May Reduce Carbon Emissions By Banning Black Cars 685

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-only-driving-at-night dept.
Legislation may by 2016 restrict the paint color options for California residents looking for a new car. Black and all dark hues are currently on the banned list. The California Air Resources Board says that the climate control systems of dark-colored cars need to work harder than their lighter siblings — especially after sitting in the sun for a few hours.

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California May Reduce Carbon Emissions By Banning Black Cars

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  • Bruce Schneir would be proud.
    • by denzacar (181829)

      ... this way finally all the future cars will be metallic-silver, metallic-gray and pristine white.

      Future might actually look something like the future we were promised so many times.

  • W-T-F (Score:5, Funny)

    by Timberwolf0122 (872207) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:39PM (#27347707) Journal
    Come on, what next Vermont only allowing black cars so the climate systems don't have to work as hard in winter?

    There is no way this can pass legislation.
    • Re:W-T-F (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ageoffri (723674) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:51PM (#27347983)
      If it was any state except CA I'd agree that it won't pass.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      the climates system for heating works of the engine waster heat, air conditioning does not.
      Of course that will change with electric cars.
      In fact, running the heater is better for the engine in that they will run more efficiently. Naturally only after a certain temperature.

      "There is no way this can pass legislation."

      "Probably not, but if it does there is no way it will hold up in court.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        Of course that will change with electric cars.

        And this, friends, is a prime example of why government should NEVER under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES attempt to legislate a solution to a technical problem, no matter how tempting it will be. We're on track to have all vehicles be electric or hybrid within probably a decade. At that point, heating systems will be electric and will drain power just like air conditioning systems.

        Once we are mostly electric, for every day when you would have used your heat, you are losin

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DarkOx (621550)

        Yes, but its a popular misconceptions that the air conditioner in a car is a poor use of horse power. In many many popular car designs running the A/C makes more sense energy wise then an open windows at speeds over 50 or so. The air envelop inefficiency of an open windows costs more power in moving the car down the road then turning the A/C compressor takes.

  • Won't that mean lots of glare? Is the plan to reduce carbon emissions by causing everyone to crash into each other?

    • That was my thought. I've been blinded by people's chrom and over-polished (or camera-light-avoiding) license plates.

      Living here in California, what I think would make a bigger difference than telling my wife her Prius can't be black is getting the old, beat-up, emissions-test-failing cars off the road. But then there are issues with that, too.
      • by hardburn (141468) <hardburn.wumpus-cave@net> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:19PM (#27348505)

        Making a new car creates a lot of CO2 in itself. "Emissions" usually mean particulate, not CO2. Confusing these two forms of pollution is a big problem.

        The Prius is a red herring. The most eco-friendly car you can buy is a 20 year old Geo Metro.

        • by frosty_tsm (933163) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:38PM (#27348797)

          The Prius is a red herring. The most eco-friendly car you can buy is a 20 year old Geo Metro.

          I agree, pending nothing wrong with the engine or cat. However, driving a Geo Metro isn't as safe (20 years of safety research and no structural fatigue), as comfortable (working A/C) or reliable (the Geo is more likely to break down in the next year than the Prius). It's a trade-off.

          But I'll admit I'd burn down a forest if I knew it would keep my wife that much safer. Mod me as a troll for saying it, but at least I'm not being fooled by fake-safety like many SUV drivers have been.

  • Overboard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:40PM (#27347739)

    You know, I'm all for protecting the environment, but this is just going overboard. If the paint is toxic, then yeah, the government should get involved, but them dictating the mere color of my car is just giving them FAR too much control over the lives of everyday citizens.

    • Re:Overboard (Score:5, Informative)

      by againjj (1132651) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @07:14PM (#27350355)
      The legislation is not dictating color. Rather, it dictates that cars need to reflect at least 20% of all solar radiation, and the paint suppliers are having trouble coming up with a black paint that does that. If the suppliers can't get it going, CA may back down. CA has done that with other auto energy-efficiency legislation before.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mal-2 (675116)

        Simply put, a "black" paint with 20% reflectivity is not black, it is gray (unless they are counting wavelengths outside the visible range). Still, it is not the radiation hitting the outside of the car that heats it up so much as the color of the interior. Take a black car with a white interior, and a white car with a black interior, put them both in the sun and see which one heats up faster. Light gets in through the glass, and if it remains light it can also get out through the glass. Once absorbed and r

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by moosesocks (264553)

        Congratulations. I'm halfway down the comment page, and you're the first commenter who seems to have actually RTFA.

        I can't wait to see how Fox is going to spin this one....

        It's also funny to watch the states-rights conservatives twitch whenever California tries to pass some sort of innovative or unusual legislation (which they've historically tended to do quite a lot of).

  • by Erioll (229536) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:41PM (#27347757)

    Henry Ford (modified) : Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is not black. (wiki [wikimedia.org])

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:42PM (#27347777)

    That seems to a bigger problem. Also dark asphalt roofs seemed a bit ridiculous next to reddish ceramic tiles.

    (Don't laugh, one of the problems of climate change is when the poles shrink/melt, the reflectivity of ice and snow gives way to water which rather absorbs the heat, basically escalating a rising problem with temperature).

    • by Nick Ives (317) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:51PM (#27347987)

      You don't need to cool pavements down though, do you? That's why they want to ban dark cars, because they use more fuel in order to keep them cool.

      TFA specifically mentions that these techniques have been used successfully in buildings so banning dark asphalt roofs is probably something they'd do for new builds.

    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      That's why they are painted with reflective silver paint. Though some choose not to do so either out of ignorance or monetary reasons. We had a shoddy contractor promise to paint a newly installed large roof after it had set for a week. They never came back to do so. Roofers charge big bucks and do the most slipshod work possible. Out of three roofers we used including one large "trusted" operation, all did a crap job and never wanted to hear about problems afterward.

  • After all, they absorb more sunlight than khakis. Heck, let's just ban all clothing and require citizens to wear nothing but a thick slathering of SPF-9000 sunscreen. Won't someone think of the planet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:47PM (#27347901)

    Is California where all the stupid people go?

    • Re:Retardifornia (Score:4, Informative)

      by InsaneProcessor (869563) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:55PM (#27348075)
      YES
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Khyber (864651)

        As a Texan living in California, I'd have to say Texas is worse. By far, they are dumber, the civil infringements are greater (you practically have no 4th amendment rights in Plano,) and it's the home to one of the biggest embarrassments on this planet.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Xonstantine (947614)

          Yes, Texas is much worse. You can get arrested for not wearing your seatbelt.

          As opposed to California, where they shoot you in the back while you are restrained by two other officers.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:48PM (#27347919)
    Jesus, pretty soon you're going to need a special license just to take a shit in California.
  • Is A/C Mandatory? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:49PM (#27347929)

    My old VW's climate control system was my windows. How's that gonna work harder in a black car?

    • Re:Is A/C Mandatory? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Skapare (16644) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:12PM (#27348347) Homepage

      In a black car, you have to roll the windows down further to keep it cool. That means more drag on the motion, and the engine has to work harder, resulting in more pollution, and an increased consumption of fuel.

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        In a black car, you have to roll the windows down further to keep it cool.

        Ridiculous. You can't roll the windows down any farther than all the way, and that's generally how far you need to roll them down in order to rest your elbow on the doorframe and tap your hand on the roof of the car in time with AC/DC, no matter what color the car is painted.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:49PM (#27347933)

    Sorta like the first cell phone law (can't talk on the phone but can text message on the phone). It sounds like a case of "we need to something so we can say we're doing something, even if it's stupid." Then when interviews come up ("what did you do for this-or-that issue?") politicians can talk around it by referencing legislation that they passed to "help climate change," knowing that most people will smile and nod and think they are doing well and not actually look up the legislation to see just what brilliant ideas were in it...

    Maybe I'm cynical. :)

    Or, maybe I like black cars. Who knows.

  • lolw00t? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:49PM (#27347935) Homepage
    "From my cold, dead hands!" --Quiet Riot
  • Article is WRONG... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nweaver (113078) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:50PM (#27347971) Homepage

    It isn't a ban on black cars. It is a requirement that at least some fraction of all solar radiation be reflected so cars don't heat up that much.

    A car with "black" paint, as long as that paint reflects UV and IR, and at least scatters some light (You want a glossy paintjob anyway), combined with UV/IR reflective window treatments, will meet the requirement.

    And true, it may cost $50/car to $150/car more, but on the other hand, the cars won't get so miserably hot when sitting in the sun. So it would actually benefit most consumers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem, according to the article, is that the paint makers haven't been able to make "black" paint that meets those requirements.

      • by sokoban (142301)

        I would imagine that window treatments and a white or otherwise highly reflective roof would get you most of the benefits since what you're worried about heating and cooling really is the passenger compartment. The hood is over the engine which will be hot no matter what when the car is on, and in fact a hotter engine compartment at start up may increase the fuel efficiency since the time to fully warm up the engine will be less. The doors of the car will likely get relatively little direct radiative ener

    • by haystor (102186) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:57PM (#27348119)

      I'd solve it by making the car a flat black, absorbing heat so it doesn't reach the interior. The heat would be dissipated through the giant fins which will soon be all the rage (again).

    • by grocer (718489)
      Not exactly, they can't make reflective black paint that doesn't look mud brown...yet...but it's phased in and manufactures have until 2016 to come up with non-black black paint. I personally don't see how a 20% increase in reflectivity can't include some part of the visible spectrum, making black no longer black...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fallen Kell (165468)
      Problem is that there is no current known way to produce paint which meets these requirements with for black paint or many other dark tinted paints. The end result is a mud-brown for black paint.

      If the technology existed, then I would be all for this. However, at this time, it does not exist. And for the small, minuscule, savings this will produce for emissions, I have to say that this is ridiculous. You will save more on emissions by forcing all cars sold in the state to have limiters on their engines to
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Spoke (6112)

        If the technology existed, then I would be all for this.

        That's the whole point - to get all those smart scientists to figure out how to make dark paint that reflects heat.

        Even if they don't end up enabling the legislation - who wouldn't spring $150 for the keep your car a bit cooler in the summer for no energy option?

    • by Skapare (16644) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:19PM (#27348491) Homepage

      Just leave the base color black, and cover 20% of the car in white-ish spots that look like bird droppings. Then if it ever does get bird shit on it, no one will know.

  • Just a thought.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:52PM (#27348025)
    ..but if the California's legislatures spent as much time trying to find a way out of their financial crisis as they do coming up with asinine bills like this, they just *might* come out with a budget surplus some day..
  • by MakinBacon (1476701) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:53PM (#27348029)
    I'm pretty sure that a white hummer is worse for the environment then a small black sedan.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SeePage87 (923251)
      Why ban either? Maybe it's just me, but I don't think the question should be what the right thing to ban is with the presumption that "We gotta ban something!" There are better solutions...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ktappe (747125)

        Why ban either? Maybe it's just me, but I don't think the question should be what the right thing to ban is with the presumption that "We gotta ban something!" There are better solutions...

        And they've tried them. When CA mandated better fuel economy the Federal Government (read: Bush Administration) took them to court claiming that only they could dictate fuel standards. And the Feds won. (Ever notice how when the Feds don't have the money to pay for something they're in favor of states' rights but as soon as the states do something the lobbyists in DC don't like the Feds hate states' rights?) My point is that CA has been trying to do other things, and this is but the latest in a long string

  • by Pitr (33016) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:55PM (#27348079)

    Mythbusters did a bit about this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBusters_(season_3)#Biscuit_Bazooka_Spinoff [wikipedia.org]

    Now mind you, it only came out to a 9 degree F difference, windows up etc., so really it's not particularly significant, and the law's still dumb.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)

      uh..I hate that show so damn much. Granted I have only seen about 10 episodes, but in every 'test' they overlooked a critical part of what they were testing.
      It's horrible.

  • The Golden State... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by creimer (824291) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:56PM (#27348093) Homepage
    They should make goldenrod the official state color all vehicles to match the governor's Hummer [commondreams.org]. Oh, wait a minute. He gave up the Hummer [thenation.com] to go green.

    Maybe they should call California the Green State and make green the official state color. Plus I don't have to change the paint job on my car. :P
  • Anyone ever get into a car with lots of windows that's been sitting in the sun? Sunlight gets in, and the light is converted to IR as it heats the insides. The glass doesn't let the IR back out so the insides heat up. This is going on whether the car is running or not and happens regardless of the color. Not to mention that glass is heavier than sheet metal, so you save on the energy required to accelerate and decelerate all that glass and the roads have less wear and tear, requiring less asphalt over time.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@beauTOKYO.org minus city> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:59PM (#27348161)

    The fact we are politely discussing the merits of this proposal instead of laughing at and/or preparing boiling oil for the idiots responsible shows we have lost the Republic our mighty forebearers gave us in trust.

    The idea that a Free People would meekly submit to some pinheads who will tell us what color we can paint our cars is laughable. So obviously this, among hundreds equally insane examples, proves we are no longer such a nation.

    • by PMuse (320639) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:44PM (#27348903)

      Why is it that when some one finally tells us that we must do things the smart way instead of the wasteful way, we start screaming at them? Are we all teenagers?

      1. Paint your car a color that reflects light.
      2. Inflate your tires.
      3. Drive slower.

      Each of these will improve your fuel economy noticeably. None of them require you to drive less or get a dinky car. What's the case for not doing them -- contrariness?

      • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @06:31PM (#27349775)

        Why is it that when some one finally tells us that we must do things the smart way instead of the wasteful way, we start screaming at them?

        Because I am a fully functioning sentient human being both capable and deserving of the right to determine for myself what course of action is "smart".

        If doing X is the smart thing to do, I invite you to attempt to persuade me by the overwhelming force of your reasonable arguments.

        On the other hand, if you tell me I must do X at the point of a spear, I will quickly conclude that (1) you have little respect for my basic humanity and (2) your argument must not be that good in the first place.

        As it happens, I enjoy driving fast ( I do own a small car, mostly for performance reason). It gives me pleasure to do so and I get to my destination sooner. I will gladly pick up the tab for the extra gas, which ought to include a carbon-tax that properly gauges the true cost to the environment. Why people insist on forbidding me from taking part in a simple pleasure on my own dime is entirely beyond me.

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @08:21PM (#27351175) Journal

          I will gladly pick up the tab for the extra gas, which ought to include a carbon-tax that properly gauges the true cost to the environment.

          Not all costs to the environment can be fixed by throwing more money at them. The basic premise here is flawed.

          You don't have the right to urinate into a public swimming pool either, even if you offer to "pick up the tab" for it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Forrest Kyle (955623)
            Your premise is flawed as well. You are asserting that purchasing a legal good and using it legally is equivalent to "urinating in a pool".
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              You are asserting that purchasing a legal good and using it legally is equivalent to "urinating in a pool".

              I'm not asserting that. For one thing, the legality is what is under question here ("should I be legally able to do unconstrained emissions so long as I pay for them?"), so it cannot be used as the underlying reason. My example was merely to demonstrate that "it's alright, I'm gonna pay for that" is not a valid excuse for a large variety of activities out there, both legal and illegal - and those of them that are illegal are that for a reason!

              That said, the law being discussed in TFA is silly regardless of

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by yndrd1984 (730475)

            Not all costs to the environment can be fixed by throwing more money at them. The basic premise here is flawed.

            It isn't flawed, you just don't understand it. The carbon tax isn't there to pay to have carbon sucked out of the atmosphere, it's to compensate for the use of a scarce public resource (the atmosphere's ability to absorb carbon) and encourage it to be used wisely.

            You don't have the right to urinate into a public swimming pool either, even if you offer to "pick up the tab" for it.

            This isn'

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by swillden (191260)

            I will gladly pick up the tab for the extra gas, which ought to include a carbon-tax that properly gauges the true cost to the environment.

            Not all costs to the environment can be fixed by throwing more money at them. The basic premise here is flawed.

            Only if you assume that the carbon tax won't motivate others to reduce their consumption. It's not necessary that everyone be low-impact, only that the collective impact be sufficiently low. Assuming we had a viable definition of "sufficiently low", then the solution is to ratchet the tax up until collective emissions fall below that level. Those who choose to emit more than average but are willing to pay for the privilege are automatically factored in.

  • Offensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thule (9041) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:00PM (#27348177) Homepage

    This has to be the most offensive thing I will read today. The idea that the government can tell a person what color their car can be should deeply offend every American, even those living in California.

  • California is cursed with the worse nanny-state politicians in the country. It's destroying the economy too - the state is nearly bankrupt, businesses are leaving, taxes are on the rise. It's a total disaster. If you want an example of what happens to an economy when Democrats have complete power, just look to California for an example.

    And for the record, Arnold is NO republican!

  • by stox (131684) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:10PM (#27348319) Homepage

    I have a black car with a black interior and a black car with a light gray interior. The gray one is far cooler in the summer.

  • by BearRanger (945122) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @06:16PM (#27349487)

    Just like the government. Always trying to keep the black van down...

  • OH BOY! PASTEL! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chas (5144) on Friday March 27, 2009 @01:33AM (#27353581) Homepage Journal

    I'm ready for Raymond Cocteau, SanAngeles, and the end of the Franchise Wars now!

    Hot dogs! Armor hot dogs! The dogs...kids...love...to...biiiiite!

  • Lame (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OneSmartFellow (716217) on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:17AM (#27354323)
    Why not simply ban refrigerant systems in autos. Back in my day we just rolled down the windows and sweated a bit.
  • by geek2k5 (882748) on Friday March 27, 2009 @10:48AM (#27357279)

    Since car color is relatively trivial when it comes to operations, such a ban could be implemented without having much of an impact on other states. They would just avoid shipping dark colored cars not meeting the reflectivity requirements into California.

    It is the mechanical systems that are much more expensive to vary by vehicle.

    Considering the increase in the number of cars in California, the fact that the smog isn't as bad as it was in the 1960's is a tribute to the smog control practices.

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