The Wasted Opportunity

In 1977 a physicist named Amory Lovins published an essay in Foreign Affairs titled, Energy Strategy: The Rood Not Taken. According to Lovins, there were two paths the U.S. could take in regards to energy. The first path would be a continuance of burning fossil fuels. Lovins wrote, "The commitment to a long-term coal economy many times the scale of today's makes the doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration early in the next century virtually unavoidable, with the prospect then or soon thereafter of substantial and perhaps irreversible changes in global climate."

It is now 2009 and last year carbon dioxide concentrations were 386 parts per minute (ppm). Both NASA scientist, James Hansen and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) use 450 ppm as the "no return point," when it will be impossible to reverse climate change. The U.S. wasted three decades when it could have been developing renewable energy, and implementing energy efficiency measures. During those decades, fossil fuels continued to be the only source of energy and vehicle fuel.

Now we are at a crucial point where reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a necessity if we want to avoid "irreversible changes to the global climate." In December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denamark to hammer out a new climate change protocol. Let's hope the world will not waste the opportunity to truly combat climate change.


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