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Climate Disruption: Net Zero Emissions Is Attainable

Maren explains climate, environment, problems and possible fixes and calls you to action.

The natural beauty of a Caribbean forest.

The natural beauty of a Caribbean forest.

Climate Thought Leader, Karl Hausker

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology invited a second climate thought leader to address the continuing crisis recognized in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC.)

A world leader in public policy for mitigating climate change, Dr. Karl Hausker, spoke on February 8, 2019.

Dr. Hausker has consulted and developed climate models for

  • the United States Agency for International Development,
  • the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
  • the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,
  • the Western Climate Initiative, and
  • the California Air Resources Board.

Dr. Hausker is especially attuned to the electricity and transportation sectors.

Net Zero Emissions Is Attainable

The United Nations IPCC urged that all countries of the world make immediate changes so that global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees C. Anything higher will cause catastrophic, unlivable conditions on much of the earth.

Of course, since the release of the IPCC report, many thousands of scientists have echoed the call for action throughout 2019.

Dr. Hausker stated that the United States needs to be operating at a net status of zero carbon emissions by mid-century, a mere thirty years from today. Dr. Hausker is a “big picture person” who has studied economic and public health connections and he knows that the U.S. can accomplish this daunting task with the technologies now commercial or almost ready to go to market.

Amazingly, the possible pathways of changes he foresees would not destroy the economy.

For now, for this thirty-year window to move from where we are to where we must be, Dr. Hausker does not think shutting down all fossil fuel plants is the best solution.

The massive changes required to quickly transform the country’s energy system to 100% renewable energy sources would be more costly and more difficult than using a combination of strategies.

Dr. Hausker feels we should immediately

  • reduce carbon emissions, and
  • remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it safely

The Challenges Of Using Only Renewable Energy Production

If America chooses a 100% renewable system, it needs to compensate when wind and sunlight are not present.

The predictable daily darkness can be calculated as well as seasonal variations in sunshine.

Changes in wind, however, have some predictability, but are less consistent. The patterns even vary over periods of years.

Nonetheless, with a "renewables only energy plan" a country's entire power system must compensate for variations.

That requires incredible storage capacity and over-building of power plants.

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How would we determine the minimum amount of back-up energy to store in order to keep the lights on in homes, businesses, and institutions?

Furthermore, the United States currently lacks the ability to move power from one regional grid to any other location in the country. Transmission systems would need huge, rapid overhauls for 100% renewables to work.

100% Clean Energy Production Plan

Dr. Hausker stated that the many models for blending wind and solar power with current energy fuels have these goals.

  1. Change every device which uses energy to have full energy efficiency - the highest efficiency possible.
  2. Switch all energy consumers away from using fossil fuels to using electricity produced "cleanly" and zero-carbon fuels. This means all households, all buildings, all vehicles, and all manufacturing. Examples of changed energy sources are heat pumps for buildings, electric water heaters, and electric cars. America could change its overall use of electricity for energy from its current 23% to up to 51% in the next 30 years.
  3. De-carbonize the generation of electricity. Wind, solar-thermal, geo-thermal, biomass, nuclear, and solar voltaic production must all be exploited.
  4. The technology for carbon dioxide removal and carbon capture and storage must be advanced as a national priority. Some believe that CO2 can be stored underground safely.
  5. Plants store carbon. Agricultural practices and home climate victory gardens must use every best practice for maximizing what crops and soil do naturally.
  6. The other greenhouse gasses must also be reduced.

The Challenges Of Using A Blended 100% Clean Energy Plan

This plan obviously requires sustained, rapid increase on power plant construction.

It also requires business and public support of research and development of smart grids, expansion of renewable energy use, responsive energy distribution, carbon removal and carbon storage.

None of these are cheap.

The United States needs to embrace this with the same commitment it gave to winning World War II and to supporting the space program.

With the right leadership, the United States and every other country can rally and make this happen.

One philosophical appeal to the 100% clean plan is the safety in variety. The country is not "putting all its eggs in one basket."

The Problem Is Time Sensitive

Climate disruption can be slowed and eventually partially reversed for our great-grandchildren's sake.

It would have been easier if the world started fighting the problem decades ago. Even now, our federal leaders have not appropriated the resources to take action.

If you know what needs to be done, please contact your representatives, and contact them repeatedly, until they get the message.

We can do this.

Again, We Can Do This

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© 2019 Maren Elizabeth Morgan

Comments

Phil Holzinger on March 04, 2019:

And on our end of things, we can practice conservation more assiduously by doing such things as energy audits on our homes, driving less, eating lower on the food chain, etc.

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on February 13, 2019:

Thank you, Phil, for your easily understood analogy.

Phil Holzinger on February 13, 2019:

I have seen climate change likened to the pulling back on a bow. That is, the more we pollute today, the farther that arrow of climate change flies in the future. Our mission therefore is to ease the strain on that bow today.

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on February 13, 2019:

Linda, I don't understand why the United States is not acting. The sooner it does, the more hope there will be. Thanks for your comment.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 12, 2019:

The situation is worrying, but I appreciate the sense of hope in your article. Thank you for sharing the information.

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