Posted by: lecubiste | March 19, 2018

We Know How to Stop Global Warming

Image result for public domain global warming

The warming of this planet is ours to control if we choose, and if nature doesn’t throw us another curve ball  like volcanic activity for example. In order to manage the warming properly we have a few limited categories of action that can be taken:

  1. Reduce the addition of new CO2, methane, and other heat trapping gases, and

  2. Reduce those existing gases through carbon removal from the atmosphere

While Strategy Number 2 is a technical challenge, Strategy Number 1 is largely political. 

In 1987, the Reagan Administration proposed to drill for oil off the Northern California Coastline. The ferocious opposition among those living in the area stopped the proposed action.  Those pushing the further exploration of oil deposits argued that the US needed to drill for energy independence, yet at the time there was no program for energy conservation, which could have helped lead to energy independence. 

This gave the lie to the argument that more oil drilling was necessary for national security. Since that time there has still been no program for energy conservation. Those old enough to remember may recall President Carter’s program for energy conservation that included investment in solar energy, limiting highway speeds to 55 mph, and exploring electric cars.

Since the pollution and national security concerns of fossil fuel usage of the 1970s, the warming of Earth has been recognized as a crisis of epic proportions. The strategies of the Carter Administration to reduce energy dependence are the same strategies needed to reduce global warming.  Essentially,  we need to reduce the combustion of fossil fuels.

The polluting of the sky, the ocean, and the ground that comes from the use of fossil fuels – carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxides, unburned hydrocarbons, and PM 10 (10 micron particulate matter)  – now includes carbon. The number one fastest and most effective way to reduce the further addition of global warming gases to the atmosphere and thus, to decrease the warming of Earth, is to reduce the combustion of fossil fuels. We have the technical know-how to do that today. 

Here is a partial list of methods to reduce global warming:

  • Drive less

  • Drive slower

  • Use mass transit

  • Develop, sell, and use electric cars and trucks, electric buses, and electric mass transit

  • Install solar and wind generators and farms

  • Eat less beef (to reduce methane production and to reduce the clearing of the Amazon rain forest)

  • Switch to LED lighting

  • Heat pools with solar

  • Heat water for home consumption with solar

  • …and many other known strategies and technologies to conserve energy

There is no technical problem to reducing carbon fuel consumption.  We don’t need more science, though it is always good to develop even better methods. No, the problem is one of will power. 

Americans in particular are effectively addicted to energy and power. We don’t walk, we drive. We don’t wear sweaters, we turn up the heat. We don’t eat less beef, we put sugar on and in everything, like a true addict.

Our political leaders are so beholden to and afraid of the fossil fuel interests that our federal government has not enacted a serious program for energy conservation since the Carter Administration.  The argument of the false choice of the environment vs. jobs has been perfected by the fossil fuel interests to the extent that politicians are afraid to even discuss the matter openly. 

Even in California, the supposed bastion of environmentalism, driving times, delays, and traffic congestion  continually increase as oil continues to be drilled in the Golden State. To truly take on this fight requires politicians who do not owe their political life to oil, coal, and gas companies and constituencies.

The same is true of the American love affair with the automobile. Vehicle automation is a hi-tech and futuristic way to drive, but it can only yield incremental savings in energy consumption, and perhaps none if it encourages more driving. The US public has been brainwashed by automobile advertising for generations and is going to have to wake up if we are going to save this planet.

Urban and suburban planning have adapted to an auto-centric society such that transportation systems, real estate development, and culture revolve around driving. This is not a technical problem.  It is a psychological, economic, and political problem.

New technology is nice, and God help the solar and wind industries, but the fundamental problem we have is that we have grown addicted to the convenience, comfort, and security given to us by all that ancient energy, formed in the ground over eons. This mindless impulsive behavior is driving our world to extinction.

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