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Is global warming unstoppable?
Date:11/23/2009

SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 23, 2009 In a provocative new study, a University of Utah scientist argues that rising carbon dioxide emissions the major cause of global warming cannot be stabilized unless the world's economy collapses or society builds the equivalent of one new nuclear power plant each day.

"It looks unlikely that there will be any substantial near-term departure from recently observed acceleration in carbon dioxide emission rates," says the new paper by Tim Garrett, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences.

Garrett's study was panned by some economists and rejected by several journals before acceptance by Climatic Change, a journal edited by renowned Stanford University climate scientist Stephen Schneider. The study will be published online this week.

The study which is based on the concept that physics can be used to characterize the evolution of civilization indicates:

  • Energy conservation or efficiency doesn't really save energy, but instead spurs economic growth and accelerated energy consumption.

  • Throughout history, a simple physical "constant" an unchanging mathematical value links global energy use to the world's accumulated economic productivity, adjusted for inflation. So it isn't necessary to consider population growth and standard of living in predicting society's future energy consumption and resulting carbon dioxide emissions.

  • "Stabilization of carbon dioxide emissions at current rates will require approximately 300 gigawatts of new non-carbon-dioxide-emitting power production capacity annually approximately one new nuclear power plant (or equivalent) per day," Garrett says. "Physically, there are no other options without killing the economy."

Getting Heat for Viewing Civilization as a "Heat Engine"

Garrett says colleagues generally support his theory, while some economists are critical. One economist, who re
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Contact: Lee Siegel
leesiegel@ucomm.utah.edu
801-581-8993
University of Utah
Source:Eurekalert

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