Sunday, May 13, 2012

Solutions Aren't Easy

Part of the problem with convincing a skeptical public that climate change is a problem is convincing them that there really isn't an easy solution. We have been trained by TV shows to believe that scientists can solve any problem within 60 minutes and still leave time for commercials. If you ask someone if they believe that kind of scenario they will look at you as if you have lost your mind. 'Of course not!,' they'll tell you. But, then they will turn right around and say that there is an easy solution to any given problem. We can solve the gas shortage tomorrow because scientists will come up with a car that gets 500 miles to the gallon. Everyone knows that and it is just the corporations that are preventing it. They don't want to loose money. Right?

Wrong! But, if someone believes that you can never convince them otherwise. And, that is part of the problem with climate change. So many people believe an easy solution is out there, so they don't believe we should worry about global warming. But, as this study shows, solutions are not nearly as easy as people want to believe.

As reported in Physics Today, this facility in Norway is working on carbon capture technology. Basically, the idea is the address global warming by removing the extra carbon dioxide we are putting in the atmosphere. However, they have found the process is very expensive. And, it uses a lot of energy. The generation of energy typically puts carbon dioxide in the air. You could use nuclear power or hydroelectric power, but unless you are building new power plants just for the carbon capture facilities you will be taking power away from other users and that power will have to be replaced with power from some other power plant. It is highly probable that the carbon capture facility will actually result in even more carbon dioxide being put into the atmosphere and doing it at great expense.

Then, there is the other extreme, the people that just say we need to stop putting greenhouse gases in the air. Sounds good, right? Wrong again! Just what are we going to do without so that we can stop putting greenhouse gases in the air? Are we going to do without electric power? Are we going to stop using cement? Are we going to stop putting fertilizer on our crops? All of these have serious consequences and would result in greatly decreased standards of living. And, the lower your income the more your standard of living would be affected. The rich will still live well. It is the middle class and the low-income people that would bear the burden.

So, what is the solution? I don't know. But, I know we aren't going to find it in 60 minutes and between commercial breaks.

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