SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

June 6, 2013

Watson: Global warming requires shift to green economy

My last two columns described the slow accumulation of carbon dioxide in the earth’s lower atmosphere and how significant that is in accelerating global warming.

Since the onset of industrialization roughly 250 years ago, it has been man’s burning of fossil fuels (wood, coal, natural gas, oil) that has released astounding amounts of CO2 into the air. To grasp the magnitude of carbon gases exhausted, just consider all of the automobiles, airplanes, trains, ships, factories, power plants, homes, buildings, towns and cities across the globe — running every day for two centuries — burning fuel and injecting waste gases into the air.

Now that CO2 has reached a level — and still rising — that most climate scientists believe is causing dangerous warming of polar ice formations, Greenland’s ice cap, and other glaciers around the world, there is a growing consensus within the scientific, political, and lay communities that mankind must adopt energy systems, economies, and societies that can dramatically reduce the burning of fossil fuels.

To transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy will be incredibly difficult. It is a task so enormous and overwhelming as to be nearly impossible. With relatively rare exceptions, every machine, every engine, every highway, every corporation, every piece of infrastructure, every building, every appliance and every job across the world is designed to rely either directly or indirectly on one fossil fuel or another.

The renewable energy technologies — utilizing fuels that don’t emit CO2 — of wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and tidal start out at a tremendous disadvantage — they are being introduced into an entire world that is already almost completely organized around, and dependent upon, fossil fuels.

And as if actual, tangible machines and organizations designed to rely on (and support) fossil fuels were not obstacles enough for the assimilation of green technologies, there is a large range of financial structuring, political interests, and attitudinal frameworks that work against the adoption of new types of energy.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium