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Contents:
  1. Major challenges and policy gaps
  2. An Energy Policy for Whether you Believe in Global Warming and Climate Change or Not
  3. Global Warming and Public Policy | Saving Earth | Encyclopedia Britannica
  4. Designing a Climate-Friendly Energy Policy: Options for the Near Term

Electrified shipping is also still further out on the horizon, but still plausible. It is worth noting that we already have electric ships — the Navy has nuclear submarines and nuclear aircraft carriers. So, the prospect of a fossil-free shipping is not as farfetched as it may seem. In fact, hybrid and all-electric cruise ships and freighters are already being considered.

Again, the relentless march of technology. Combustion of fossil fuels is widely accepted as a cause of significant degradation of local air quality in major urban areas around the world, causing countless health problems and quality of life issues. Whether or not you believe in the theory of global warming and climate change, the severe negative impacts on local air quality are an obvious cause for wanting to shift energy and transportation away from combustion of fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy.

Major challenges and policy gaps

Problem areas for local air quality include:. Reduction in use of fossil fuels coupled with increased efficiency when they are used will dramatically reduce atmospheric emissions which impact health and quality of life. Hybrid and all-electric vehicles are already being seen on streets of urban areas in increasing numbers, which will only increase even more dramatically in the next 5 to 10 years. The relentless march of technology and improvements in energy efficiency will be strong drivers in dramatic reductions of the combustion of fossil fuels in coming years and decades.

An Energy Policy for Whether you Believe in Global Warming and Climate Change or Not

A lot of the capabilities needed to pursue the three proposed policy elements are already readily available, but research to advance innovations in these three areas is needed, beneficial, and highly likely as well. The proposal does not require some dramatic new level of research, some Manhattan Project or a so-called moonshot, but simply to keep on keeping on, to stay the course.

Sure additional funding and sharpening of focus would be helpful, but nothing so dramatic as to require some major and disruptive commitment of public and private resources.


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The overall research thrust is simply to just support the overall relentless march of technology. Literally, almost anything that fits that bill will be good for the proposed energy policy.

That said, some specific research areas include:. Again, there is nothing new on that list; we just need to keep the pipeline flowing. The primary rewards for pursuing the proposed energy policy will come in the form of:. An essential characteristic of the relentless march of technology is that it tends to drive costs down. Lower costs and lower prices are very appealing to individuals, households, businesses, organizations, and governments alike.

Efficiency drives costs and prices down as well. Driving down the demand for energy sources is the big win for efficiency gains. Efficiency improvements are a big win from an economic perspective. Air quality is a mixed bag. The cost to achieve better health and quality of life can initially be quite high, although the long-term benefits can recoup those initial costs, especially with dramatic reductions in health care costs. But the benefits to tourism and athletic events can be quite dramatic fairly early on, although even there it can take a few years to fully ramp up air quality programs to the level where the results are noticeably visible and palpable.

Net-net, even improvements in local air quality are an economic win and can be considered solely from the perspective of economics, without needing to bet the farm on global warming and climate change policies. Most notably, this will come from the dramatic reduction in the use of fossil fuels. The proposed energy policy is completely neutral with respect to environmental regulation.

Existing environmental regulations can be preserved and enforced the same as before. The only real change is that dramatic improvements in technology, efficiency, and local air quality will have the effect of dramatically reducing the environmental impacts of society, with the beneficial impact of reducing the need for intensive environmental regulations.

People can readily accept the benefits of electric energy sources and devices, but that begs the question of where the electricity comes from and how batteries get charged. All the energy needed to power electric vehicles has to come from somewhere. In truth there is no great clarity as to what specific direction electric power generation will be heading 5 to 10 to 20 years from now. The good news is that there are a lot of exciting possibilities. And that the relentless march of technology and efficiency improvements will result in a net reduction of carbon dioxide emissions for a similar level of human activity.

Sure, fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas, and even petroleum will continue to be primary sources for commercial electric power for the next few decades, but gradually the mix will shift, slowly at first, but accelerating 10 to 20 years down the road. Whether nuclear fights back from its long decline remains to be seen.

Solar is still quite promising, but is still on a fairly small scale. Natural gas is the clear winner for new power plants, right now. The interest in local air quality will continue to put pressure on power plants to reduce emissions, and continue to put pressure on reduction in the use of fossil fuels. No matter what, a key point is that getting energy as electricity from the grid, even if the grid remains powered by fossil fuels is still a big win. A fossil fuel plant provides the level of economy of scale that makes it more economical to assure that the power generation process is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Increased use of nuclear energy is an unknown in the proposed energy policy. Personally, I think society would benefit from nuclear energy, but there are still too many obstacles, such as:. Still, I am hopeful, just not in the next few years. Nuclear fusion continues to be held out for its virtually unlimited potential, but the history of endless delays has virtually eliminated any confidence that its day will come. Not many people realize it, but production of concrete cement is a significant source of global carbon dioxide emissions. Besides being energy-intensive heat needed , production of cement results in emission of carbon dioxide by the calcination of limestone according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC , the official UN body pursuing global warming and climate change.

So, even if fossil-fuel usage for energy was completely eliminated, cement production would still be a concern. Once again, technology can come to the rescue. The proposal here is not to explicitly redirect technology to focus on global warming and climate change, but simply to note that as the economics shift and new technologies are developed, the use of older fuel and material sources, such as concrete, will shift as well.

I am very skeptical of our ability to very quickly and radically shift away from fossil fuels overall.

Global Warming and Public Policy | Saving Earth | Encyclopedia Britannica

So, the EFFECT will be the same as the grand plans of the anti-fossil fuel gang, but without all the hysteria, desperation, cost, and futility. In short, it will happen when it happens, and the proposed plan will facilitate it happening without the intense anxiety, intense uncertainty, and misguided expenditures of resources and attention of the more desperate efforts to obsessively focus on global warming and climate change. One downside of the relentless march of technology is that it continues to prop up the availability of relatively cheap oil and gas.

A safe climate will require a return to an atmospheric concentration of parts per million or lower of greenhouse gases and CO2 equivalents. Australia's primary responsibility is to reduce our contribution to emissions; we cannot rely on as-yet undeveloped and undemonstrated draw down mechanisms. Climate change is resulting in the displacement of people, having a disproportionate impact on people in less developed countries, creating environmental refugees and intensifying the threat of regional and global conflict. Australia has a responsibility to assist in resettling and rehousing displaced populations.


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Australia needs to plan for a future that does not rely on fossil fuels for export or domestic use. Australia needs to urgently and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, actively support international mitigation measures to reduce global emissions, and plan to adapt to climate change impacts which are now inevitable.

Australia is one of the largest per capita contributors to climate change and must urgently and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, actively support international mitigation measures to reduce global emissions and plan to adapt to climate change which is already starting to have serious impacts. Many of the harshest impacts of climate change disproportionately affect those already experiencing disadvantage.

Addressing climate change and building a just society go hand in hand. Climate action to include and respond to the differentiated needs, experiences, priorities and capacities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other communities. Equity must be at the core of climate change negotiations and measures, and the transition to an economy that supports a safe climate. Climate change necessitates a transition away from an economy reliant on unsustainable consumption and production of greenhouse gases.

The cost of creating an economy that adapts to climate change and supports a safe climate must be distributed fairly, both domestically and internationally. Failing to transition to a low carbon future will have adverse impacts on our economy and society through: the increased cost of adaptation; increased risk of extreme weather events and bushfires; and risks to water resources, agriculture and food security.

Designing a Climate-Friendly Energy Policy: Options for the Near Term

Economic opportunities may be lost or diminished by failing to encourage a rapid transition to a more sustainable economy. Australia has the capacity to ensure that our electricity needs can be provided by renewable energy. Australia must develop the capacity to drastically reduce emissions from all sectors, draw down greenhouse gases, and be greenhouse gas neutral or negative within a generation. Australia's primary responsibility is to reduce our contribution to emissions; we cannot rely on as-yet undeveloped and undemonstrated draw-down mechanisms.

Early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will ultimately be fairer and more cost effective than delaying action. A systematic response by all levels of government is required to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors.