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Global Warming, Clean Energy, Prosperity, and an Enlightened Civilization

A question was asked of me recently about how urgent is the threat of global warming. Since, I'd answered this before, I thought I'd summarize previous answers and then move on to what would really make a difference.

Global projections from current data show a global warming from 1.3 to 1.9C per century. Even if it is a bit higher, say 2.5C by the year 2100, it will be disruptive in some areas, but others will benefit.

If we tried to slow down GW using something like a carbon tax, I've not seen any analyses that the current proposals would have any significant effects. Actually, they would make energy more expensive, which would hurt the poor the most.
Here are some suggestions that would make a difference:


1) In the US, when we need a new broad-based electrical power plant, we've been building natural gas plants. These burn very clean - they emit very little pollution, and they also emit less CO2 than a coal plant. Coal plants' pollution kill millions of people every year around the world. So we want to encourage China, India and other developing nations to use natural gas instead of coal.

2) Conservation efforts have saved money and lessened pollution in the United States. Houses and buildings that are well-insulated and have modern energy-efficient windows save money and reduce pollution. And our automobiles become more efficient and less polluting every year.
 
3) Invest in making nuclear power, solar power, and wind power affordable. These give off no pollution and no CO2. We’ll never run out of sunlight or wind, and there's enough fuel for nuclear plants to last for hundreds or thousands of years.

4) If we can use Thorium as a fuel for nuclear plants, that would be a great help to the world. First, Thorium plants cannot have meltdowns, and second, Thorium cannot be used to make nuclear weapons.

5) And perhaps most importantly, it is prosperity that allows a country to be able to afford pollution controls, conservation efforts, and to be able generate energy cleanly.

Prosperity comes from free-markets, and free-trade. Both of these require governments that are constitutional democracies - governments that protect individual rights. Only governments that protect individual rights are sustainable.

And there are other huge benefits from being a prosperous country.

One of these is that by having inexpensive, clean energy, the world will eventually solve one of its biggest problems – having enough energy for all. This lowers the cost of virtually everything. And that leads to even more prosperity, which leads to a good education for all – for every child in the world.

This can happen this century, making this century the most pivotal one in humanity’s history.

As a very nice consequence, prosperous countries don't go to war with each other.

And most importantly, all of us will get to choose whether we will then turn our efforts toward becoming more spiritual – to grow toward God, and to use out talents to make the world a better place.

If most of us do make this choice, this century will truly be the most pivotal one in humanity’s history.

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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The  University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of  the author.

Comments

Zeream said…
Some food for thought; it could be possible to circumvent the costs of replacing electricity plants by just attaching new profitable facilities to them. Case in point, this: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/540706/researcher-demonstrates-how-to-suck-carbon-from-the-air-make-stuff-from-it/

I haven't really hard much about the feasibility, however. Again, food for thought.

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