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Energy poses major 21st century crisis: scientists
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 @ 21:56:23 GMT by vlad
Energy poses one of the greatest threats facing humanity this century,
the world's leading academies of science warned Monday, highlighting
the peril of oil wars and climate change driven by addiction to fossil
Nations must provide power for
the 1.6 billion people who live without electricity and wean themselves
off energy sources that stoke global warming and geopolitical conflict,
the scientists demanded.
"Making the transition to a
sustainable energy future is one of the central challenges humankind
faces in this century," they said.
Their report, "Lighting the Way: Toward A Sustainable Energy
Future," is published by the InterAcademy Council, whose 15 members
include the national science academies of the United States, Britain,
France, Germany, Brazil, China and India.
It was authored by a 15-member panel whose co-chaired was 1997 Nobel Physics laureate Steven Chu of the United States.
"Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that current energy trends are unsustainable," the report said bluntly.
Its authors sounded a special alarm over the surge in the building
of conventional coal-fired power plants in China and other developing
countries, as such infrastructure will doubtless be entrenched for
decades to come.
"The substantial expansion of
coal capacity that is now under way around the world may pose the
single greatest challenge to future efforts aimed at stabilising carbon
dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere," the report warned.
Managing the greenhouse-gas "footprint" of these plants while
encouraging a conversion to carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be a
mighty technological and economic challenge, it said.
CCS means piping off CO2 at a plant and then pumping it into
geological chambers deep underground, such as disused oilfields, rather
than releasing it into the atmosphere.
Many scientists view this pilot technology warily, waiting to be
convinced that CCS is safe, for a chamber breach could have potentially
catastrophic consequences for the climate system.
The report also appealed for a planet-wide drive in favour of energy efficiency to reduce carbon emissions.
And it spoke loudly in favour of renewable energy, describing its
potential as "untapped" and offering "immense opportunities" for poor
countries that are rich in sunlight and wind but poor in cash to buy
oil and gas.
Nuclear power, as a low-carbon resource, "can continue to make a
significant contribution to the world's energy portfolio in the future,
but only if major concerns related to capital cost, safety and weapons
proliferation are addressed," it cautioned.
Turning to biofuels, the scientist said that these sources hold "great promise", but only through a switch to second-generation sources.
At present, feedstocks such as sugar cane and corn are the main
source for biofuels, which is having an effect on global food prices. A
more promising, but as yet uncommercialised, goal is using
lignocellulose stocks from timber chips and agricultural residues,
which microbes digest into fuel.
Other dawning technologies, such as plug-in hybrid cars and
hydrogen fuel cells for energy storage, can make an important niche
contribution, the scientists said.
But they cautioned that the move to sustainable energy could only
happen if nations work together to free up the necessary financial
resources and expertise -- and setting a price for carbon to punish
pollution and waste and reward clean energy was a key part of the mix.
A 2006 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggested
world oil consumption would rise by nearly 40 percent by 2030 as
compared with 2005 levels, and CO2 emissions would increase by 50
percent over 2004 levels, under a "business-as-usual" scenario.
© 2007 AFP
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|Re: Energy poses major 21st century crisis: scientists (Score: 1)
by Koen on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 @ 13:06:57 GMT
(User Info | Send a Message) http://no.nl/tesla
|This is just more proof to me that a Nobel price means nothing.
The opinions expressed by this "panel" are as unscientific as can be.
Molecular hydrogen as fuel is complete nonsense, because of the inefficient conversion to and from molecular hydrogen.
The capturing and storage of CO2 in power plants will rise the cost of electricity. Since solar cell technology (not mentioned by the panel) is almost competitive to fossile fuel technology, CO2 storage comes too late.
a paper that falsifies a co2 based atmospheric greenhouse effect.
This "panel" could have shown some guts by making a statement like "defense industry budgets that dwarve energy research budgets, indicating a totally wrong policy worldwide".