Can we really prevent global warming? Or should we be thinking more about adaptation? Building coastal fortifications may be cheaper than halting the release of CO2.Chu:
Right now, the climate scientists feel that if all humans shut off carbon emissions today, it will still glide up by about 1 degree centigrade..... Imagine a world 5 degrees warmer. The desert lines would be dramatically changed. The West is projected to be in drought conditions... We can adapt to 1 or 2 degrees. More than that, there is no adaptation strategy.Zakaria:
...We're not going to be able to stop burning fossil fuels for quite a while.Chu:
We're in the great ship Titanic, the Earth is, and it's going to take a half century to really turn the ship. But that doesn't mean we can't start doing it today, and we must. It's possible that the United States can greatly reduce its use of energy in our buildings, which consume 40 percent of our energy, and our personal vehicles....we haven't taken full advantage of the technologies that exist today. They haven't been integrated into making smarter buildings that can be 60, 80 percent more energy-efficient than existing buildings.... But in addition to that, if you were going to ask me, do we have what is needed today to reduce our carbon emissions by 80, 90 percent and still enjoy the standard of living we enjoy, the answer is no. We need better technologies. But I'm pretty confident that we can figure this out...
Nuclear energy I think has to be part of the portfolio in this century. And then going back to the other thing: efficiency. We now make refrigerators that are four times more energy-efficient than the refrigerators of 1975—for half the inflation-adjusted cost. The energy we save with these refrigerators is more than all of the wind and solar photovoltaic energy we produce in the United States today. Just refrigerators.
Here's what I like about it: Chu's optimistic. He's able to confront uncertainty, and explain that there are OK scenarios and really bad scenarios of global warming. We can't stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, but there is already a lot we can do know to substantially improve our energy efficiency.
I find the little fact about refrigerators (assuming the calculation is accurate) amazing. Who doesn't like energy efficiency? I love having technology that functions well but brings down my electric bill every month.
When scientists talk to the public about global warming, this is how it should be done. No doomsday or denial; instead, an optimistic but realistic attitude about our ability to overcome the challenges, starting today.