Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Are Solutions to Climate Change Feasible?

The debate on climate change has seemed to have shifted from whether there is a problem (the overwhelming consensus--except in the Republican caucuses in Congress)--is that there is a problem), to how best to address the problem. do we lower carbon emissions? Or invest instead in dealing with the change?

A study out of Minnesota suggest that reducing climate change is feasible:

The research team, which will release the new study July 22, modeled emissions for Minnesota and found that it is possible to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 and possibly exceed those numbers if a combination of strategies are implemented, including reducing fuel consumption, increasing fuel efficiencies and fuel carbon content and by using new methods for designing communities. However, the researchers point out that the methods could be applied nationally. In fact, history shows that when one state or city implements environmental policy changes, the nation often follows.

The emission reduction goal is achievable if action starts today," said Bob Johns, director of the Center for Transportation Studies. "By changing the amount of traveling we do, purchasing vehicles with higher fuel efficiency and adopting low-carbon fuel standards we can exceed the goals that the Minnesota legislature has put before us and be a leader in the nation for reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

"This study provides a great starting point for the 2009 legislative session and will help facilitate a thorough debate and good policy development to create cost effective solutions and improve Minnesota's energy security," said Rep. Melissa Hortman, who commissioned the study.

The researchers say that the majority of the changes don't require any costly or new technologies and are applicable in other states too, not just Minnesota.

. . .

For instance, the savings from buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle can offset the added cost of technology in less than a year by using technologies that are already available and manufacturing vehicles that achieve the CAFE standards and even go beyond them.

The study also suggests improving fuel economy for heavy-duty fleet by refining aerodynamics, using lower rolling-resistance tires and reducing speed. Those changes could contribute about 13 percent of the transportation sector's reduction goal by 2015. There could be an even greater emission reduction if goods movement shifts from truck and airplane to rail and boat.

"The technology to make this happen exists, it is just a matter of using it," said David Kittelson, professor of mechanical engineering and study researcher. "The engines we use in our cars are no worse or better than the engines they have in passenger cars in Japan or Germany - the difference is, we put our engines in enormous cars."



Read it all here.

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