Earth Under Fire

Chapter 5: CHOOSING A SAFER, CLEANER AND COOLER WORLD

The larger implications of global warming. Where we are heading and what should be done about it. Includes an essay, "Policy and Protocol in the UN Climate Convention," explaining what nations, including the U.S., did and did not agree to do about climate change. Also lawyers and justices turn up the heat in "Global Warming on Trial."

Excerpt:
"The most serious global warming threat is from coal. This fact, as well as the world's dependence on oil and the overall unsustainability of our energy use, reveals the stark truth that climate change is, more than anything else, an energy problem the size of our civilization....

"If we focus too narrowly on the economic balance sheet of energy use and climate change, we miss the lessons of science and history.... Not often mentioned is the fact that for the few millennia that humans have farmed, tended livestock, gathered in cities, and developed technology, the Earth's temperature has been relatively stable. "Yet today," wrote Thomas Lovejoy and Lee Hannah recently in the International Herald Tribune, "despite all the signals from nature, we are failing to come to grips with the fact that we are changing the climate ourselves." We are changing the climate. This is a powerful truth, considering climate's controlling role in creating the habitat of every living thing and its influence over the course of human events....

"However they come about, new controls on greenhouse gas emissions will have to be made across the entire spectrum of energy production and use. It is nothing short of a transformation to a world that still enjoys abundant energy, but it will be energy that comes from different sources.... An intelligent and fast-acting program for moving toward the best energy sources will have to involve equitable costs for carbon emissions and fair limits on greenhouse gas emissions; a level economic and legal playing field for all energy sources, purveyors, and users; and an open marketplace in which pollution level, safety, siting, and price will select the mix of sources. The fact of global warming is that we are going to need some combination of all kinds of clean energy." -- Copyright © 2007 Gary Braasch

coal mining

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