An Inevitable Future for Carbon Dioxide Emissions?
Garrett says often-discussed strategies for slowing carbon dioxide emissions and global warming include mention increased energy efficiency, reduced population growth and a switch to power sources that don't emit carbon dioxide, including nuclear, wind and solar energy and underground storage of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning. Another strategy is rarely mentioned: a decreased standard of living, which would occur if energy supplies ran short and the economy collapsed, he adds.
"Fundamentally, I believe the system is deterministic," says Garrett. "Changes in population and standard of living are only a function of the current energy efficiency. That leaves only switching to a non-carbon-dioxide-emitting power source as an available option."
"The problem is that, in order to stabilize emissions, not even reduce them, we have to switch to non-carbonized energy sources at a rate about 2.1 percent per year. That comes out to almost one new nuclear power plant per day."
"If society invests sufficient resources into alternative and new, non-carbon energy supplies, then perhaps it can continue growing without increasing global warming," Garrett says.
Does Garrett fear global warming deniers will use his work to justify inaction?
"No," he says. "Ultimately, it's not clear that policy decisions have the capacity to change the future course of civilization."
|Contact: Lee Siegel|
University of Utah