Dec 11, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
With the growing acceptance of the reality of what Al Gore now calls "Climate Crisis," advocates are focusing increasingly on what we can do.
The 1.2 million-member Natural Resources Defense Council has an effective new eight-page brochure, "Solving Global Warming: It Can Be Done," describing a combination of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Environmental author Bill McKibben may have been the first to say that for global warming, "there's no silver bullet, but there may be silver buckshot." NRDC's approach is in the tradition of the "wedge strategy" promoted by Profs. Richard Socolow and Stephen Pacala of Princeton University. See their enormously influential article from Science Magazine August 2004, "Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Global Cliimate Problem for the Next 50 years with Current Technologies" http://fire.pppl.gov/energy_socolow_081304.pdf.)
Because NRDC has added PHEVs to its strategies, it's also a positive outcome of the process we described Nov. 7 in our news posting, "Natural Resources Defense Council's Evolving Views on PHEVs" http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/572.html. The equivalent on-line version http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/solutions/now.asp reflects an earlier version of the wedges and will presumably be updated.
Here's the text of the middle two pages, explaining a four-wedge pie:
It Can Be Done: How to Cut U.S. Global Warming Pollution by More Than Half Solving global warming is a big challenge. Can it be done? Absolutely. With American ingenuity and political will, we can cut global warming pollution by at least 60 percent by 2050. Although there is no one "silver bullet" solution, there are four strategies for employing known technologies that, taken together, will get the job done.
1. BOOST ENERGY EFFICIENCY Approximately 41% of total reductions The cornerstone of solving global warming has to be energy efficiency. We know how to make light bulbs, refrigerators, even buildings that use 80% less energy than conventional designs. Every kilowatt-hour we don't use means less global warming pollution goes into the air.
2. BUILD BETTER CARS Approximately 24% of total reductions The best hybrids on the road today already reduce global warming pollution and oil consumption by 50 percent compared with average vehicles. New hybrid designs and more affordable batteries are being developed each year. Soon we will be able to get plug-in hybrids that can go 30 or 40 miles on electricity before they need to use any gasoline. We can curb our appetite further by encouraging developers to build compact, walkable communities that allow people to spend less time behind the wheel.
3. SWITCH TO RENEWABLE ENERGY AND BIOFUELS Approximately 19% of total reductions Business-friendly, cost-competitive and ready to meet a significant portion of America's energy needs, renewable energy has gone mainstream. Wind energy capacity is growing 30 percent per year, making it the fastest growing supply option in the United States. And biofuels, such as ethanol made from corn, prairie grasses and corn stalks, can fuel an increasing fraction of our transportation needs. By 2050, renewable energy and biofuels could meet a significant portion of our energy needs.
4. SCRUB CARBON FROM FOSSIL FUELS Approximately 16% of total reductions Coal is the most carbon-intense of fossil fuels. Reducing use of coal through energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies is the cornerstone solution to global warming, but the truth is that hundreds of new coal-fired power plants will probably be constructed around the world in the coming years. We must insist that new coal plants use innovative technology to strip out and safely dispose of the carbon. California is setting the standard here, requiring that any new power plant emit no more global warming pollution than a highly efficient natural gas-fired unit.