Friday, November 20, 2009

CLIMATE CHANGE: Kyoto Protocol in the Limelight

By Klaus H Hemsath

Representatives of the 16 largest greenhouse gas emitting countries, who met in preparation for the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009, concluded that they had settled on the architecture of an agreement in Copenhagen. They also admitted that a binding treaty was unlikely.

The problems in Copenhagen are proving once more that the concepts, which are the foundation of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, are not suited for arresting continuing global warming and cannot be adapted to the realities of energy demands of fast growing economies at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Instead, world governments must find a concept that will solve several intertwined problems. Some of these issues are threatening the very existence of world economies and must be dealt with very soon or the world will experience severe and irreversible damages.

What are these threats? - Global overheating. - Worldwide recessions and depressions. - Rising sea levels. - Climate changes. - Species extinction. - Fast rising electricity and transportation fuel prices.

If the Kyoto concept does not work, what alternatives promise to deliver better, longer lasting, and more effective results for boosting economies?

The Kyoto Protocol is based on reducing energy consumption. Two consequences of this approach are inescapable; greenhouse gas emissions will be slowed but cannot be stopped. Energy costs will rise.

Global overheating can be prevented only, if all emissions from fossil fuel burning are stopped completely and permanently! Committing suicide in a closed garage will be as successful in an idling truck as in a compact car.

But how realistic is a total replacement of all fossil fuel generated electric power with nuclear heat, solar energy, marine power, and geothermal heat? How realistic is a complete substitution of all petroleum with non-polluting alternate fuels?

In a new book entitled "Clean Energy for Centuries" these questions are answered in greater detail. The book points out that a few energy storage and conversion technologies must still be developed or advanced before abundant and affordable electric energy and a petroleum substitute can be produced. A major challenge will be the development of techniques to grow the huge amounts of biomass that will be needed for the production of transportation fuels.

The book also admonishes that such a drastic changeover from fossil energies to clean, pollution free energies will take a very long time to implement.

On the other hand, scientific consensus is building that global warming should not exceed two degrees Celsius or three and one half degrees Fahrenheit.

When these two constraints are combined, one can conclude that the world has about fifty years left to completely change the production of its two major energy supplies.

Fifty years are not very many if one considers that the USA has been trying to deal with its untenable energy situation since 1973. During the last twenty six years, huge amounts of money have been spent on all kinds of energy related programs. Results have been few and far between.

The U.S. needs to establish an agency with a tightly defined mission. It must be charged with developing the plans and the technologies that will make the U.S. energy independent, will stop global warming, and will replace all air pollution emitting industrial and commercial processes. These types of technologies can make the U.S. again a leader in providing world markets with facilities that provide clean energies for centuries.

Once the most urgently needed technologies become available, an additional task needs to be tackled; the restoration of the Earth's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide can be removed from the atmosphere after novel energy conversion and restoration processes become available.

When related technologies become accessible and prove to be economically feasible, the major stumbling block of past climate negotiations can be removed. Each country can then be committed to remove the carbon dioxide emissions it has discharged into the atmosphere during its history. Realistically, such an effort will last decades. However, such an effort must be expended eventually.

Ice melting is only partly caused by increases of global temperatures. Historically high concentrations of carbon dioxide will independently increase heat transfer rates from the atmosphere to ice deposits on mountains and in Polar Regions and will accelerate melting.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperatures must both be restored to historic levels, if a slow but continuing inundation of large coastal lands all across the world is to be avoided.

Dr. Hemsath's books, Climate Change-Gold Rush or Disaster? and Clean Energy For Centuries, offer a comprehensive plan for saving Earth from overheating. He is now writing a follow-on book, Petroleum Substitutes From Biomass. For fifty years he has worked on advanced energy technologies as scientist, engineer, inventor, Corporate R&D Executive, CEO, entrepreneur, and author. He holds more than 60 US Patents. Go to

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