Another major study finds confirms natural gas is a bridge fuel to nowhere
A must-read new study by climatologist Ken Caldeira and tech guru Nathan Myhrvold (!) makes clear the world’s only plausible hope to avert catastrophic temperature rise this century is aggressive deployment of zero-carbon technologies and conservation.
The Institute of Physics news release explains:
… technologies that offer only modest reductions in greenhouse gases, such as the use of natural gas and perhaps carbon capture and storage, cannot substantially reduce climate risk in the next 100 years.
Delaying the rollout of the technologies is not an option however; the risks of environmental harm will be much greater in the second half of the century and beyond if we continue to rely on coal-based technologies.
Those are the bombshell conclusions from “Greenhouse gases, climate change and the transition from coal to low-carbon electricity,” in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters.
Many decades may pass before a transition from coal-based electricity to alternative generation technologies yields substantial temperature benefits. Panels above show the temperature increases predicted to occur during a 40-yr transition of 1 TWe of generating capacity. Warming resulting from continued coal use with no alternative technology sets an upper bound (solid black lines), and the temperature increase predicted to occur even if coal were replaced by idealized conservation with zero CO2 emissions (dashed lines) represents a lower bound. The colored bands represent the range of warming outcomes spanned by high and low life-cycle estimates for the energy technologies illustrated: (A) natural gas, (B) coal with carbon capture and storage, (C) hydroelectric, (D) solar thermal, (E) nuclear, (F) solar photovoltaic and (G) wind.
Natural gas is the least helpful transitional energy approach, in contrast to what T. Boone Pickens recommends. And he never looked at the pollution effects of fracking here.
The best approaches use no-carbon for their production. Solar and wind make great approaches. The worry with nuclear is not only the fact that we have to deal with waste but also because the amount of nuclear fule to use in limited and may only last a couple of decades before we run out. Even if we could build safe nuclear power plants fast enough, we would be in an energy crunch pretty soon.
Solar and wind seem the place to go. Both have the problem with their intermittent nature. But space-based solar power could mitigate this and also help leverage us into space, something that could open up an age of abundance here.
Look at that – 20 years after we start and we could be down to a zero-carbon society. We just need the will. And we will create a world that is better off in almost every way than today.