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November 05, 2006

Comments

Marc Gunther

Thanks for explaining and linking the Stern Report and the "wedge" idea, Joel. This is all quite sobering. It makes me wonder whether the dramatic growth of green tech investing and the commitment to reduce GHG emission that we are seeing from some companies (GE, DuPont, Wal-Mart) will not take us where we need to go fast enough. Add to that the fact that there are big companies (ExxonMobil, TXU) that remain part of the problem rather than part of the solution, and it's easy to get scared. I'm ordinarily an optimist but it's clear to me that all of us need to sound the alarms even louder when it comes to climate change.

Mark Sofman

So how and why is it that Bjorn Lonborg's work is a "screed?"

C. Scott Miller

Great article. I'd love to see your presentations.

There are costs and then there are social costs. For instance, TXU plans to build 11 coal-fired plants for Texas because they cost less than cleaner coal gasification plants. However, the social costs of coal combustion, even today's advanced technology versions, are incalculable if they stoke ghg emissions higher, stoke our dependence on fossil fuels, and further stoke centralization of energy production.

The value of the Stern report is that it focuses attention on social consequences that will arise if we ignore social costs. California, with its groundbreaking Global Warming law, is starting to place caps and monetary value on carbon emissions through a carbon credit system. That will generate investment capital for new, more expensive but more socially responsible technologies to be deployed.

Lance Funston

Joel

The wedges have also been popularized as a graphic concept for making action on climate change more understandable and possible through Gore's presentation in An Inconvenient Truth. I assume he got his data from that same source.

Even while pursuing the industrial transformation required to achieve these wedge goals, it seems that scientific consensus has also decided thatclimate change is underway and has an strong momentum of its own.

Recently members of the emerging "geo-engineering" field have suggested the spraying of sulfur particles into the high atmosphere to reflect sunlight as a last ditch effort to cool the climate.

Environmentalists rightly fear this potential solution might be seen as a "silver bullet" and a rationale for countries and corporations to keep lazily spewing GHG into the atmosphere.

But the question remains: is it better to be right or dead?

mark c r (chemist) UK

I'm a keen listener to the views expressed by Stern and also of the need for action - through the promotion of biofuels for instance.

One point recently raised by Jonathon Porritt at a public lecture he gave here in the UK and was in agreement with a point made by the RAND CORPORATION'S recent report into "Impacts on U.S. Energy Expenditures of Increasing Renewable Energy Use"...

That no firm SYSTEMATIC LCA analyses have been done into the use of renewable fuels from biomass.

I advocate a number of central databases of such information being setup to facilitate this soon. I say this so that comparative technologies can be easily compared rather than haphazardly with lobbying organisations interfering!

It's important to be able to "see the wood for the trees" (excuse the pun!) - getting reliable data on such things is more difficult than it has to be.

Does anyone think these problems would arrise with the nuclear energy industries??

Nice blog Joel.

Mark C R

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