It's the Environment, Stupid.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Emissions, emissions, emissions

I assume I'm one of many who will comment on the article on the front of the NYTimes business section: "The Cost of an Overheated Planet". The message: reduce emissions... or else.

Overall the article has an optimistic tone. It lays the case for businesses taking the initiative to reduce their emissions, coupled with the need for increased market based mechanisms and cap and trade policies to make this easier, and for R&D into that futuristic-magic-unknown technology that will save us.

It also breaks down the economics of the problem - costs of reducing emissions (one percent of the global economy each year for the next 50 years.) And globally speaking, after describing all of the pending U.S. legislation on climate change/emission reduction policies, the article points a finger at China and India - if the U.S. gets on board then so should the rest of the world.

The end quote comes from executive director of the national comission on energy policy, Jason Grumet "The ecological and economic imperitive is to start now." Yes it is, however, I think we've been saying that since the UNFCC (The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - the document that was spit out in 1992 at the earth summit in Rio, that informed the Kyoto Protocol.)

While I am supportive of all of the mainstream press and political attention global warming is getting these days, I must reiterate that the focus needs to widen beyond the we-must-reduce-CO2-at-any-cost. We're banking solely on carbon sequestration and nuclear power for our "clean" future and we're losing sight of not only the negative externalities of relying on these technologies, but also we're not doing much at implementing precautionary, adaptive measures we're going to need in order to deal with the gradually changing conditions of our world.


  • I agree that discussion of the impact of global warming needs to go beyond energy supplies. However, given how much education is left just to achieve truly widespread public acceptance of climate change, I'm not encouraged there will be a great deal of deep thinking beyond that which will end up in action and new policies. I was glad to see the Times article mention energy efficiency (i.e. "conservation"), as the energy you don't use is the cheapest and safest. This should be the highest priority of any energy program or approach.

    One thing that would benefit everyone is a sense of perspective - which the public has little of for energy supplies. We understand warfare and it’s basic technology because we’ve got a lot of veterans and lot of decent movies on it. We don’t have the same understanding of energy and electricity generation. It’s hard to do on a large scale no matter what your supply - fossil, nuclear, wind, or squirrels on treadmills.

    I’ve worked in the US nuclear industry over twenty years, but have no problem with other, workable solutions. (It’s the workable part that’s the rub.) I’ve also tried to provide some perspective - particularly on nuclear - with my novel “Rad Decision”. It is available online at no cost to readers at - and they seem to like it, based on their homepage comments. The REAL world of nuclear energy is far different than what's typically reported in the media or discussed by pundits on either side of the debate. (Like everything else, there's plenty of good and plenty of bad. But not what you might think.)

    “I’d like to see Rad Decision widely read.” - Stewart Brand, internet pioneer and founder of "The Whole Earth Catalog".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 15:57  

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    By Anonymous Dan, at 07:09  

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