Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Energy Independence

The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine has released a petition signed by over 31,000 scientists (over 9000 Ph.D.s) that states:

We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

The OISM is not funded by energy companies:

Note: The Petition Project has no funding from energy industries or other parties with special financial interests in the "global warming" debate. Funding for the project comes entirely from private non-tax deductible donations by interested individuals.

I post this not because of the petition though it is interesting. Apparently the scientific debate, at least for these scientists, is not over. I post this because as part of this project, the OISM has published a peer reviewed paper that offers a clear, concise review of the scientific evidence about global warming and its effects. Furthermore, this paper offers realistic solutions to the energy problems we face.

Global Warming Review

I urge everyone to read the paper with an open mind.

The most important part of the paper in my opinion is the last part which discusses how to achieve energy independence in a sane, cost effective way using technology available today:

Figure 27 illustrates, as an example, one practical and environmentally sound path to U.S. energy independence. At present 19% of U.S. electricity is produced by 104 nuclear power reactors with an average generating output in 2006 of 870 megawatts per reactor, for a total of about 90 GWe (gigawatts) (125). If this were in creased by 560 GWe, nuclear power could fill all current U.S. electricity requirements and have 230 GWe left over for export as electricity or as hydrocarbon fuels replaced or manufactured.

The technology to achieve energy independence is available now in the form of nuclear power. It is clean, safe and inexpensive. And it is economically feasible at a cost of roughly $1 trillion. Given the proper regulatory and tax incentives, private industry could provide this level of funding without any direct government subsidy. If we really want to achieve energy independence, we need to stop wasting resources on alternatives that cannot, given current technology, get us there. Going nuclear would allow us to stop exporting capital to countries we dislike (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela) and go a long way toward ending our trade deficits.

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