Here’s an excellent NY Times feature on how governmental budgets aren’t up to thechallenge of global warming. While current research topics include algae strains that can turn sunlight into hydrogen fuel, the inkjet-style printing of photovoltaic cells and kite-like windmills to harvest the immense energy in the jet stream, government spending on blue sky research and on the expensive tasks involved in getting something off the drawing board. If we don’t create these technologies now, our infant engineers and scientists won’t have much to build on. For those who say: let the market handle it, the NYT offers:
While private investors and entrepreneurs are jumping into alternative energy projects, they cannot be counted on to solve such problems, economists say, because even the most aggressive venture capitalists want a big payback within five years.
It strikes me (again) that we would be a lot better served if we could cease all subsidies of petroleum immediately and channel it into something like The Apollo Alliance – spending government money to encourage the creation of good jobs in renewable energy.
Mother Jones offers a bit of a silver lining, saying that Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jay Rockefeller, (D-W.Va) have written to ExxonMobil demanding that the company “stop funding groups that have spread the idea that global warming is a myth and that try to influence policymakers to adopt that view.”
The recently released Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change estimates that if we don’t act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more. In contrast, the costs of action – reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change – can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year. What’s more, the investment that takes place in the next 10-20 years will have a profound effect on the climate in the second half of this century and in the next.
About the photo(grapher): 02-08-06 … coal elevator to the fires of Hell is a shot of the Cheshire, OH Coal Power Plant. Jeremy Stump sounds like he has a cool life: designing and building skate parks, traveling a lot. Check out his site jeremystump.com for some awesome photos.