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View Diary: Bush claiming 'Energy Independence' mantle already - UPDATE (189 comments)

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  •  Humanitarian angle is also vital (2+ / 0-)
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    wader, melvin

    If we stay the course on present patterns of energy consumption, more Americans are going to die in oil wars and far greater numbers of citizens in other countries.  

    But right at home more Americans are going to die as more coal is burned, more coal-fired plants go on line, and more pollutants are emitted. Right now about 24,000 Americans die annually thanks to coal combustion, and hundreds of thousands of others suffer from lung and heart disease.

    We get about 50% of our electricity from coal.  Why?  Because it, nuclear power, and hydroelectric power are the only suppliers of large-scale, steady, 24/7 electricity.  Nuclear power (providing 20% of our electricity) and hydro (5%) emit about the same amount of greenhouse gases as wind power (about 0.05% but growing)--that is, very little.

    Clean electricity could be powering our automobiles instead of gasoline if large-scale non-emitting sources could be expanded and if technology to store the energy generated from intermittent sources like wind and solar could be developed through an intensive program.

    If we continue in our present mode, emitting more greenhouse gases per capita than any other nation (we will be surpassed by China in this admirable endeavor in a couple of years), each of us will be helping raise the earth's burden of carbon as well as the global temperature.

    As the carbon load increases, the ocean, which is a major carbon sink, is growing steadily more acidic.  This chemical change is being accelerated by the rise in ocean temperatures.  Most marine species cannot make the rapid adaptation to these new conditions, and it is likely that the food chain will be severely affected.  One billion people depend on the ocean for food.

    Using arable land to grow crops to feed automobiles instead of people when starvation remains a major world problem seems to me a humanitarian tragedy.  

    Then there is the legacy the UN is predicting for our children and grandchildren: climate change causing agricultural failure, famine, drought, flooding, wars over dwindling resources, epidemics, mass migrations.  All this because we love our plasma screen TVs, our laptops, our bananas in the winter, and our cool cars.

    ...it always turns out that no one is in charge of the things that really matter.--Deborah Eisenberg, Twilight of the Superheroes

    by Plan9 on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:23:37 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Population is too high right now... (0+ / 0-)

      ...that's the problem and the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. 6 billion people are always going to have the problems you talk about on a planet like this one. If we had 1.5-2 billion, it'd be a whole different ball game.

      And we might well have those numbers, soon.

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