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Engineers Say Technology Needed to Stop Climate Change Already Exists

10/12/2011

Image credit: Kevin Dooley

A joint statement issued last month by eleven of the world’s largest engineering organizations says that the technology already exists to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050. What’s preventing us from actually doing so is a lack of political will, which stems from the stranglehold oil companies have on the international political system, which is partly what’s motivating the Occupy Wall Street protesters…

But that’s another story. The statement calls for a peak in global emissions by 2020, to be achieved by investing heavily in alternative energy, working toward zero emission transport, constructing low carbon buildings, developing energy efficiency technologies and training workers for green technology jobs.

Dr. Colin Brown, the Director of Engineering  at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK, said this concerning the statement:

We are now overdue for government commitment, with ambitious, concrete emissions targets that give the right signals to industry, so they can be rolled out on a global scale.

He’s right–we’re long overdue, and it’s refreshing to see it stated so clearly. It’s insane that most governments have yet to take serious steps toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s both immoral and downright suicidal.

But that won’t change anything, by itself. The political system has been commandeered by corporations bent on short-term financial gain. Without extensive reform, Earth will become less and less livable.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. John Erickson permalink
    10/12/2011 10:52 PM

    We need an international scientific and constructional push on this, preferably driven by the UN (though I have no illusions they will not). An international “put a man on the moon” or similar style of grand vision, but with the entire globe participating. I fear that even if Western countries do their “bit” (and even if they do more), foot-dragging in China and Russia (seeing such programs as “invasion of privacy” and “denial of expansion of their economies”), as well as inabilities due to economic difficulties (sub-Saharan Africa, Indo-China, some of Central and South America) will prevent the truly global nature of ANY movement we require. But even some aggressive movement by “the first world” and North America could make serious dents in pollution, especially if the US (and to a lesser extent Canada) could be brought to the same pro-green mentality that much of Europe possesses. (In other words, TRASH THOSE DANG SUV’s! :D ) I’d be tickled pink to cover all my rooves with solar panels, and on a sunny day (about 2/3 of our year here in Ohio) I could cover my own needs AND sell back to the grid – but I can’t afford the darn panels! Some form of modern Civilian Conservation Corps/Tennessee Valley Authority (Depression-era US agencies, for you Canadian young-uns ;) ) that would encourage manufacture of low-cost turbines and solar panels, and assistance to home-owners to afford these devices, would take a LOT of the dirtiest coal-fired plants off-line here in the States. Couple that with a tax to encourage folk out of V-8 powered SUVs and trucks and into 4-cylinder cars would also help significantly.
    But we gotta get stared NOW, at a national level. Waiting for global help will be too late.

    • 10/13/2011 8:55 PM

      Yeah, like you said, the UN is pretty ineffective. Sad but true. That said, they could probably make a convincing case to countries reluctant to join a true global initiative to fight climate change. Just last year, they released a report that found the economy will have a hard time growing in the 21st century without making sustainability a priority: http://ecopolitology.org/2011/03/01/un-economic-growth-and-sustainability-critically-linked/

      China is actually making a lot of progress in adopting alternative energies–so much so, in fact, that members of the GOP are advocating that the US get out of solar energy because they don’t think it’s possible to compete with China. (Not that I think anyone should pay heed to that.) As for whether China would participate in a coordinated international endeavor, I can’t say. They didn’t sign the Kyoto protocol, so maybe not.

      I’d love to have solar panels (or some type of alternative energy) too, but I don’t see it being feasible any time soon. You’re right–more incentives and subsidies would go a long way.

  2. 10/13/2011 12:37 PM

    The global community has not yet reached the level of how to interact for the benefit of the whole. After all, that’s special interest on a larger scale. Nonetheless, John brings forth many good points, Nice post.

    • 10/13/2011 8:56 PM

      I’m hoping information technology will get us there. We can convey ideas, and the importance of ideas like climate change, with greater facility than ever before. Hopefully that will count for something.

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