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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Energy: Reducing CO2 Emissions Will Be Harder Than You Think

TIME (blog) - Bryan Walsh

That's a lot of wedges and it means a lot of energy too. Hoffert estimates that maintaining global economic growth while keeping atmospheric CO2 concentrations below the magic 450 ppm number—which some environmentalists say is still too high—would require the production of approximately 30 terawatts of carbon-neutral power by 2050. (That's terawatt as in "one trillion watts," as in 826 times more energy than you'd need to send Marty McFly's DeLorean back to 1985.) But we have yet to produce a single terawatt of carbon-free energy, and given the gridlock in the U.S. over climate and energy policy, I can't say we're moving in the right direction either, and neither does Hoffert:

Broad investment will be crucial to enabling such basic research findings to cross the “valley of death” and develop into applied commercial technologies. Carbon taxes (1) and ramped-up government research budgets (2) could help spur investments, but developing carbon-neutral technologies also requires, at the very least, reversing perverse incentives, such as existing global subsidies to fossil fuels that are estimated to be 12 times higher than those to renewable energy (18). We have to stop marching the wrong way before we can turn around.

There are two types of economic growth 1) expansion: it gets bigger and 2)development: it gets different.

So I think we'll need numerous global transformations of culture and economy to save life on Earth... transform our get bigger economy into one that just gets different, and converting our energy production infrastructure (a large part of the economy obviously) to carbon neutral technologies.

We'll need millions of carbon capture devices installed too... only the technology is not there yet.

In addition the scientists are being optimistic about the consequences of having that much C02 in the air.
Dr James Hansen believes even our current atmospheric CO2 (388 ppm) is too high.

The right’s climate denialism is part of something much larger
Scientific claims are now subject to ideological disputation. Rush Limbaugh is telling millions of people that they've taken the red pill and everything they once knew and could trust is a lie. They've woken up outside the Matrix and he is their corpulent, drug-addicted, thrice-divorced Morpheus. What could go wrong?

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