Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Now is the Time to End our Reliance on Fossil Fuels: Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2013 Report

Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2013 discusses the challenges and opportunities presented by changing the way we produce and use energy. A July 23rd, World Watch press release notes that global Co2 emissions from fossil fuel energy combustion grew by 34 percent from 2000 to 2010. As a consequence we can expect to see temperature increases of as much as 6 degrees Celsius this century unless we take swift action.

As explained in the World Watch press release, "The transition away from fossil fuels is not one of convenience, but of moral and ecological necessity." The press release went on to quote some of the remarks of a few contributors to The State of the World 2013 report.

According to University of Michigan professor Thomas Princen and his co-authors, in order to prevent disastrous environmental impacts we must not only reduce emissions we must end our reliance on fossil fuels and keep the vast majority of remaining hydrocarbons in the ground. These researchers suggest that whatever fossil fuels we do extract should be used for building a renewable energy infrastructure.

It is possible for renewable energy to fully meet global energy demands. As associate professor of physics at the University of California, Tom Murphy notes "If there is to be a transition to a sustainable energy regime, it's best to begin it now. If society waits until energy scarcity demands an energy transition, it risks falling into an 'Energy Trap' in which aggressive use of scarce remaining easily-harnessed energy resources to develop a new energy infrastructure leaves less available to society overall."

We need to use money generated by the old energy economy to fund renewable energy says Eric Zencey, fellow of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont.

Phillip Saieg, of the US Green Building Council, suggests that the quickest and most financially feasible way to lessen the amount of carbon being added to the atmosphere is by "greening" existing buildings.

Regardless of the path we take to get there, the report is clear in its warning that we must quickly bring an end to the fossil fuel age.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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