Global environmental challenges
Nicholas Stern, the British economist who warned five years ago that global warming could cost the world’s GDP as much as 20 percent a year by 2050, hasn’t given up on the United States taking action on climate even though he’s down on Washington for not passing a bill that would do just that.
“If you look around the world, of all places to sit and wonder where (climate policy is) going, this is probably the most pessimistic place — this city,” he told a small gathering of reporters at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. late this week.
But all one has to do is travel out of the U.S. capital to see enormous potential for taking action, he said. Stern is optimistic about U.S. companies in Silicon Valley and Boston and other places developing low-carbon technologies such as batteries for electric cars, or new biofuels that aren’t made out of food crops.
“There are so many technological ideas on the table that you don’t need all of them to work, just some,” he said.
Much has been written about how solar power could help to
solve the energy crisis facing mankind. Ideas range from
harnessing the Sahara’s heat through parabolic mirrors to
transmitting solar energy from space to earth.
The Desertec solar project, for example, aims to supply 15
percent of Europe’s energy needs by 2050. Yet according to
Brussels-based EPIA, the world’s biggest solar industry
association, more could be achieved some 30 years earlier.
–Jean-Michel Cousteau is an environmentalist, documentary producer, president of Ocean Futures Society and the son of ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He has produced over 70 films, including the documentary series Ocean Adventures in 2006. Any views expressed here are his own. –
In the midst of desperate attempts to stem the flow of oil and the agony of waiting to understand its effects, we are left with simple questions like what exactly is happening to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico? And how quickly can we move from dependence on oil to a sustainable, renewable energy policy?
Besides surfing, tourism and the ocean views, California may get another benefit from its famed coast: energy.
With shores that stretch for 745 miles along the Pacific Ocean, California could harness more than 37,000 megawatts of ocean power, or enough to supply a fifth of the state’s energy needs, according to the California Energy Commission.
A trio of U.S. senators this week introduced a bill to spur solar manufacturing jobs in the United States.
Through additional tax credits, the legislation aims to encourage more U.S. companies to make solar equipment, creating jobs and building up the country’s clean energy economy.
It was a disarmingly simple question but, embarrassingly, I didn’t have a clue when first asked that 18 months ago. Even though I’d have to describe myself as a genuine tightwad when it comes to expenditures, I simply had no idea, strangely enough, about how much money my four-person household was spending on electricity — nor how much carbon dioxide was being produced.
Now, after a year of carefully tracking the daily use of electricity, I’ve discovered a bit about when and where power is being used and, in theory, saved — without much pain. It seemed like a no-brainer and it honestly was not hard to cut our consumption by 1,000 kilowatt hours in 2008 to 5,000 kWh — saving about 200 euros and 500 kg of CO2 in the process. There were only minor sacrifices: rigidly turning off “standby” switches and unused lights, pulling plugs on little-used appliances, putting in energy-efficient lightbulbs, using the washing machine sparingly and the dryer only rarely, and replacing an inefficient dishwasher with a low-energy model.
President Bush is pulling out of the race to set the next round of car fuel efficiency standards before his term in office ends. That means President-to-be Obama will decide how fast Detroit should be pushed toward a car and light-truck standard of at least 35 mpg. That’s the goal set by Congress for 2020, but the president gets to decide how fast to move in the phased implementation.
With Detroit drooping, Bush thinks a little breathing room is needed. Environmentalists, meanwhile, are eager for quick action by Obama. The Transportation Department has until April to finalize the 2011-2015 target.
New research shows that both Antarctica and the Arctic are getting less icy – and the best explanation is mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases.
But will that convert anyone who doubts that global warming is caused by human activities, led by burning fossil fuels?
That’s what Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard (left) predicts, saying that a huge shift to renewable energies, such as solar and wind power, from fossil fuels will survive flagging economic growth.
Japan budgeted $283 million for security at the summit and $30 million to build a temporary, low-emissions media centre far from where the G8 leaders are meeting in a luxury hotel.