Feb 1

What are we going to do?

Written by brooks | posted in Master's Thesis | 0 Comments

I don’t think there is much doubt in the fact that we as humans are affecting the atmosphere with our fossil fuel combustion. There are no other explanations for the measured increases in CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 100 years or so. More and more evidence points to warming effects. The only question is whether we are going to try to live with it or whether that might be impossible without some changes to the way we live.

Are we willing to give up some things? Do we really expect the rest of the world to not have what we as Americans have enjoyed for decades?

On top of this climate question, there is also the question of ‘peak oil’ and the lousy state of our infrastructure? Even if we have enough oil and gas for a while, it will run out eventually especially with the growth in global demand. More and more generating plants and the transmission lines that bring the electricity to our cities are becoming overloaded or too old to run much longer. It now takes 8+ years to plan, permit, and build a new plant and no one seems to be thinking that far ahead right now.

Who is going to blink first? Congress? Right.

The utilities? Maybe, if we give them some incentive to do so? That incentive is the whole point of my thesis.

You and me? We certainly have not done anything like that in the past unless we actually had to; think WWII or the 1973 Oil Embargo. We are not very good at planning for the future. We want what we want right now; think the mortgage crisis or the whole idea of everyone living in giant homes and driving SUV’s. I’m just as guilty as anyone.

The scientists? It would be great if we had that breakthrough we have all been talking about for the past 40 years. Where is fusion? Why can’t we actually make clean coal? What’s so hard about Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)?

If the past is any indicator, we will have to make incremental improvements to the system. We better start somewhere soon!