What can each of us do to reduce global warming - GW

by Ginosar  



I plan to show here that the most important action we, as individuals, can take fighting GW is to pressure our three representatives in Congress. I will do that in two parts. The first one is an overview of the complexity and magnitude of the task the US faces in changing our reliance on cheap fossil fuels. It would not discuss alternative technologies but the approaches open to us. I want to leave you with the deep impression that this is an awesome task and we have to be realistic and focused in order to change our life-long energy-wasteful culture we have grown to depend on in the USA.

In the second part I plan to show: A. What the US must do and B. Why our individual pressure on Congress is so critical and the most effective way for each of us to help reduce the blotted US energy consumption and our huge Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Change our attitude- open our eyes: In order to make a significant impact we must look at reality with clear eyes and do our best to face facts we do not want to see or to accept. Opening our eyes clearly is a powerful challenge to all of us since that is not the way we usually look at the world now. We continuously mislead ourselves, and many of our leaders mislead themselves and us too. Our world is inundated by misleading political and economic announcements that make it very difficult for us to distinguish between realities and make- belief. Very few experts dare to expose us to the full reality of GW because they fear they would be labeled "extremists" even by fellow scientists who are aware of the gravity of GW.

Let's focus our attention on what we need to accomplish - on our real target- massive and rapid reduction in GHG, and from that derive the practical path we need to take to reduce the intensity of GW. And I am not talking here about the technical elements or which alternative energy we should embrace. I am talking about how each of us can maximize her/his impact to improve the situation in the USA. As individuals we have no power to impact the rest of the world. But by our impact on our own government we would also impact the rest of the world.

Let's recap the essential issues to help us grasp the magnitude of the effort:

1. Humanity never faced any thing of this magnitude and severity before. Our climate is changing rapidly and we have to adapt to these changes and minimize the likelihood of more severe changes.

We do not have previous experience to rely on. It will shake our foundation and requires new approaches we never tried.

2. Fighting GW is larger than any previous human endeavor, much larger than WWII. It will demand efforts and sacrifices of a similar caliber to the size of the problem.

3. The assumption that we will not be individually impacted and we can live with ever increasing standard of living is unrealistic. We will have to make sacrifices in the U.S. to reduce the intensity of GW.

4. GW is an international problem, all nations are emitting greenhouse gases to a lesser or larger degree. Therefore, global cooperation is a must. Some nations will have to give more than others.

5. The current largest emitters are China, USA, the burning forests in Borneo and Brazil, Europe. India is fast emerging, and all other countries contribute too. Even burning of wood in poor Africa is a significant GW problem.

6. The global population of  6.7 billion is projected to increase to 9.5 billion by 2050, in just 40 years. This rapid population growth is a major contributor to GW

7. Global population continues to demand a higher standard of living that is not sustainable because of the increase demand for martial, for energy, and the associated increased in GHG emissions.

8. Over 200 million poor, rural  Chinese that now consume little energy will be moving into the middle class in the next ten to fifteen years. Some 200 million Indians are expected to move to higher consumption too. This increase consumption by 400 million and additional people around the globe, will significantly increase the demand for material goods and for energy accelerating GW. Before the mid century this shift could be increase demand for material and energy of a similar magnitude to the EU and the USA combined.

9. The majority of stories about the coming negative impacts of GW mainly point to the poor nations in Africa and Asia. But this is misleading us to believe that somehow the US will be spared from any significant impacts.

Yes, we think, we may have some rising sea levels and it will impact some one else in Florida and the flat Golf Coast. Yes, the draughts in the Southwest will expand but we will find a solution. Don't worry. The dramatic changes in rain patterns, or more severe floods here, less water there, are not worrisome to us. Our leaders will find a practical solution and our taxes will not increase. And so many more nonsense of this form. However, several extensive studies show that this is not true. We will be impacted, each one of us and our families in the US.



10. We talk as if technology will save us by some magic. New technologies are not a magical solution since few practical options are available. We use so much energy and consume so much fossil fuel that most people, even professionals, are unable to fully grasp the magnitudes involved. Some professionals project so many options of green energies without grasping the immense amount of capital, the immense amount of material, the large amount of manufacturing capabilities needed, the long time required to build the vast infrastructures involved. They do not grasp the delays in our political systems, the need for approvals, for environmental impact studies, the imperfection of our political system, the opposition for changes from normal citizens, and the corruption in our everyday political structure. They forget the twisting of facts by our political and economic systems, to name just a few of the real hindrances to changing our energy structure. Not in my back yard is a real problem.

It took  a century to develop and create our vast electrical system. It took  a century to build the complex infrastructure, refineries, pipelines, distribution centers, gas stations, to supply 200 million cars in the US. It took a century to build the vast distribution system for natural gas to reach much of the housing and industry in the country. And the combined capital is in the trillions of dollars. Yes, thousands of billions.

I will leave with this question: Do you believe that our individual reduction in energy consumption, as useful and satisfying it is to us, can make even a minor dent in this global picture?

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