Conscious Climate: Solutions

 
 
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Reversing the slide towards catastrophic climate change will be a monstrous undertaking, but the challenge is fundamentally political, not technological or economic. We already possess, or are close to developing, the technologies required to replace fossil energy with clean alternatives, and the cost of implementing them is modest relative to the size of the economy (in fact, many of the solutions available are cost negative).

But they will never be deployed, in the time and on the scale required, without coordinated political support: in incorporating the full cost of dirty energy in its price, in imposing higher standards of energy efficiency and land use, and in mobilizing, by way of incentives, the massive amounts of private investment required to finance the effort. How do we ensure that the necessary political tipping point is passed before natural tipping points foreclose on our common struggle to avoid disaster?


 
 

Scope and Size of the Challenge
  Industrial GHG emissions are now roughly double their removal by land plants, the ocean and other natural sinks, thickening Earth’s atmospheric “blanket” with each passing year. Atmospheric concentrations will continue to rise until we overcome our political and technological inertias to cut emissions to below the removal rate (assuming natural emissions have not themselves increased due to higher temperatures). Until concentrations drop back to, say 330-350 ppmv (half-way between current and pre-industrial figures), global mean temperature will continue to rise until enough trapped long-wave radiation can punch its way through the stabilized atmosphere (thicker blanket) and into space to balance the incoming short-wave radiation from the sun. At that new global temperature, the hotter climate will continue to evolve (melting glaciers, rising seas, species die-off, etc.) until distribution of its extra trapped energy has reached equilibrium throughout the earth system. (adapted from Mental Models of Climate Change, 2007)

  Accelerating CO2 Growth (PNAS 2007) Current Trajectory  
  Target CO2: Where Should We Aim? (Hansen 2008)
Target CO2 - Supplementary (Hansen 2008)
What Target?  
  Mitigation of Global Warming - wikipedia
Stabilization Wedges
Mitigation  
 

Economics
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  Cost of NOT Acting Much Greater (US, 2009)
2006 Stern Review (summary here)
The Cost of Not Acting  
  The Mythology of Economic Peril
The Case For Slashing CO2 (interview, 2009)
McKinsey Global Abatement Cost Curve 2008
The Cost of Acting  
 

Politics
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  PBS "Hot Politics" (2007) A wonderful 1-hour PBS presentation, in several chapters, on growing awareness in the US of the realities of climate change and the political realities that have impeded, and continue to impede, an effecive response.  
  PBS Stephen Schneider Interview (2008)
Roles of Governmnet vs. Business
Lester Brown On Market Failure (2008)
Investment Analysts on Market Failure (2007)
Hidden Costs of Energy Production (NAS 2009)
Tragedy of the Commons
Market Failure, Political Response  
  Market-Based Solutions (TD Bank 2007)
Capital To Capitol (2007)
A Primer On Feed-In Tariffs (Pembina 2008)
Economics of Climate Change (2008)
Policy Levers  
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Winners and Losers  
 

Resources and Technologies
  Section commentary

  More Pofits With Less Carbon (2005)
Using Ice to Cool The Grid (2010)
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Energy Efficiency  
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Natural Resources  
  Sustainable World Energy Outlook 2008
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Weird and Wonderful
Energy Production, Storage and Transmission  
  UCS 2010 Hybrid Scorecard
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Transportation  
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Carbon Capture, Carbon Sinks  
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Geo-engineering  
 

The Way Forward
  Section commentary

  Climate 2030 (US 2009)
Emission Reduction Policies (Canada 2008)
The Full Global Warming Solution (2009)
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Blueprints  
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A Sense of Urgency  
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Education  
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Climate Campaign