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Global Warming - The Kyoto Dilemma

Sep 11, 2008
Former Vice President and Nobel Prize peace winner Al Gore made a comment at the ASIAN Summit earlier this month in Bali, Indonesia that USA is the worst nation in causing the global warming. USA is the only industrialized nation now refuses to join the Kyoto summit to restraint carbon dioxide emission. President Bush refuses to sign the treaty for fear it may slow down the domestic industrial growth.

In fact, reducing the use of the present energy form will not help much of the global warming. It is just like giving some pills to cure the pain of a cancer. It is superficial and will not root out the problem.

The heat we generate and drives the global temperature upward comes mainly from energy we consume from fossil fuel which is oil, natural gas and coal. Coal, by far, is the cheapest energy source among the three. There are also some clean coal that gives better energy and less carbon dioxide. But the proportion is too little to mention.

Bio fuel or alcohol too is another clean and environment friendly energy source. But again the amount we use to produce gasohol and other mixed fuel are limited. It will not help much in term of reducing global heat.

The Kyoto summit is not only a too late and too little solution to the woe. It also creates a very bad side effect or I should say another woe. Restriction in consumption is good if we do not at the same time restraint growth and consumption of our basic energy need. We may have recession and social unrest as a result.

So far, we have cornered ourselves into a win or lose situation. We have pushed oil to a historical high of US$ 99 per barrel and heated up the globe. We also disunite the world industrial leaders in the issue at Kyoto. We may console ourselves with some success in cutting back energy consumption. Meantime, icebergs in both the north and south poles keep on melting.

The solution is to divert global resources, energy, technologies, etc. to the long deserved world attention in using clean and safe energy, viz. wind, water and sun light. China may have made some good use of water energy. Europe has been on the right track in developing the cheapest energy source of wind. Japan is doing fine too with sun light.

Another cheap and clean energy source we have is nuclear energy. Nuclear is as cheap as any natural energy of wind and water. All will not emit carbon dioxide to pollute and warm the globe.

But we are doing all these sporadically and in trickle. We still do not mass manufacture solar cells with an economic of scale to have a price that justifies commercial application. We have worries of Chernobyl to the point we do not join hands to make a better and safer nuclear power reactor plant universal.

I personally do not think USA needs to join the win-lose Kyoto convention. But it is imperative for US, as a world leader in many fronts, to lead a win-win solution in solving global warming crisis. We really need to do it jointly with concerted efforts for our better global environment.
About the Author
James Nash is a climate scientist with Greatest Planet (www.greatestplanet.org). Greatest Planet is a non-profit environmental organization specialising in carbon offset investments.

James Nash is solely responsible for the contents of this article.
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