Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Climate change talk
This afternoon we were fortunate enough to have our annual Rorschach Lecture, delivered by Ralph Cicerone, president of the US National Academy of Sciences. The subject was climate change and its interaction with energy policy, and unsurprisingly to anyone who isn't willfully ignorant, this was a scary talk. The atmospheric CO2 data, the satellite-based measurements of accelerating Greenland and Antarctic ice loss, the amazing pace at which China is building coal-fire power plants (roughly 1 GW of electric generating capacity from coal coming on line every 10 days), are all very sobering. The planet doesn't care, of course, but it sure looks like the human species had better get its act together, and the only way that's going to happen is if we come up with an energy approach that is cheap compared to coal (that includes the possibility of making coal more expensive, of course, but how do you persuade China and India not to burn their cheap, abundant coal?).
Posted by Douglas Natelson at 9:59 PM