Thursday, February 6, 2014

More unintended consequences - and what are acceptable means?

Knowing my interest in unintended consequences, the article below was sent to me. It concerns the unintended consequences of actions taken around the potential dangers of nuclear power. I can not verify the accuracy of the data and sources cited in the article.

Some questions raised by the article are: is it possible to recognize and take seriously the results of climate change, the consequences of human actions and the need to make changes, while also acknowledging the benefits of and demands for power, electricity and other forms of technological innovation?

Though renewable energy sources are desirable, at this time they do not seem to be a feasible means to fulfill a major portion of our needs (for various economic and technological reasons); they certainly can not meet the increasing demands of the future. Is a gradual movement towards "less coal" and lower emissions acceptable using non-renewables while at the same time gradually increasing the use of renewables?

Below is an excerpt regarding unintended consequences:

"Even though Germany has spent more than $100 billion subsidizing renewables since 2000, the country's coal use is rising, as are its carbon-dioxide emissions, according to the BP Statistical Review. And Germany's coal use may continue to grow as the country turns away from nuclear power. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Germany shut down eight of its nuclear reactors, and it plans to retire the rest by 2022. According to an October report from energy publisher Platts, some 7,300 megawatts of new coal plants will be brought online by next year.

It's not just Germany. Global coal consumption jumped by about 55% over the past decade as demand for electricity has soared. That consumption is boosting global carbon-dioxide emissions, which have increased by 32% over that period, according to the BP Statistical Review. Relatively small reductions in carbon emissions in Europe or the U.S. won't make a significant difference amid such rapid growth. Since 2005, China alone has increased its carbon-dioxide emissions by about 3.6 billion tons, or about four times the amount Germany emitted in 2012.
The reality is simple: The U.S. is the world leader in carbon policy. It has cut carbon-dioxide emissions more effectively than the EU while generating an economic boom from the shale revolution. In October 2013, Purdue University energy economist Wallace Tyner estimated that between 2008 and 2035 the shale revolution will add an average of $473 billion a year to the U.S. economy—or about 3% of current GDP. Using more natural gas in the U.S. sets an example for the rest of the world for economic growth, energy production and carbon dioxide."
(c) 2014 Elihu Genmyo Smith