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04/03/2017

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nicholas george

My initial focus after reading this report was on one sentence: " the country’s energy challenges are more critical today than ever: though oil and gas prices have declined recently, affordable energy is out of reach for many households and businesses." This statement immediately made me think about all of the developing countries that have hundreds of millions of people without power and how there is an unbelievable inequality associated with the availability of electricity. Then, as I was reading the report, I noticed how much of an emphasis there is on Research and development to improve the quality (with relation to both efficiency and cleanliness) of energy so that the United states can meet its energy promise. Then, as you continue to read and see the charts, you can see that we are not even top ten in investing in R&D to develop sustainable energy despite consuming the most energy. Then, as I was analyzing that same chart on page 16 I noticed that India was not on the list. India happens to have a few hundred million citizens that within the next 30 years will become energy consumers. Global climate change is a global issue, meaning the US meeting its goal of reducing the amount of carbon from energy production and use is meaningless if 300 million middle income Indian citizen start consuming unclean energy. Our decrease in carbon emissions will be entirely offset by India's increase, and the global climate change will be in the same, or worse, position than it was. I am not blaming India, in fact, its quite the opposite, and this goes back to my first point about the inequality of energy. All of the major developed countries on this list went through some sort of industrial revolution where they polluted relatively freely without international interference, so India should be allowed to as well. However, if the US invests in R&D and develops technology to produce clean energy thats cost-competitive or even cheaper than fossil fuels then India as a profit maximizing country will choose to use that clean energy and by pass the carbon fueled industrial revolution. The article listed many reason's for why the US needs to increase R&D spending, however, I think that I have just made an (pretty bad, but relevant) argument for an increase in R&D as well: that is, because global climate change is a GLOBAL issue.

Parker Kellam

I thought this report touched on a lot of things we've talked about the last few weeks in class. While many of the assessments reported slowed or stopped activity of recommendations, there was one thing in these that really stood out to me. The caption for Fig. 3 states, "Nearly half of the $8 billion (in 2014dollars) in ARRA RD&D funds went to fossil energy RD&D, focused almost entirely in carbon-capture technology and advanced coal-combustion technologies." While the RD&D funds did go to fossil fuels, it gave me hope that it was geared toward carbon-capture. That's definitely a start in the long road we have ahead of us. Additionally, I agree with Nick on his point about India, but want to take it in another direction. He said that our reductions (if made) would be meaningless if developing countries begin to consume energy with large carbon emissions. However, I'd beg to differ to some extent, but will ultimately arrive at the same conclusion that it is a global problem. If US emissions don't change and developing countries also begin to emit at a high rate, CO2 will continue to increase even more which could lead to more drastic climate change effects. If we were to reduce our levels, the overall CO2 levels would also be less. Whether high or low, these levels will affect people all over the world. The question is, to what extent? Therefore, it still could matter what the US decides to do and we should feel responsibility as part of the global community.

James Willey

Their recommendation to design an alternative energy source commercialization program seems important to me. I completely agree that the scale of the changes is one of the major hurdles to a lot of the technology we have already developed. I don’t see how any large schemes, such as their examples of nuclear power and carbon capture, can get off the ground without financial backing from the government. A similar example actually came up in my chemistry class today as we were talking about the mechanisms of fuel cells and harnessing electricity from chemical energy. The example was hydrogen fuel cells, a 0 emissions alternative that is already in the implementation phase of development that hasn’t taken off because there isn’t the infrastructure to support it. But as Dr. Desjardins said, if every Wal-Mart in the country could add a fueling station then the entire passenger vehicle fuel economy would shift within 5 years and the United States would be able to easily accomplish one of the carbon emissions stabilization wedges.

Cole Wilbur

I was shocked to read that the US is not in the top 10 in energy research and development. As a major contributor to the world’s pollution, we should be helping to lead the way in exploring alternative energy sources for not only the world but also ourselves. I recently read an article about a wave based energy technology that takes the force of waves and converts it to an effective energy source through a power plant located on the shoreline. This wave-based power plant is located in Australia and has been estimated to be able to power the state 10 times over. This proves that there are innovative, non-traditional ways to produce energy in an efficient manner. This form of energy production is also sheltered from storms and natural phenomena meaning that it rarely gets damaged or needs maintenance upkeep. This example shows that investing in energy R&D would be an effective use of our time and resources especially because it has the potential to pay off in the future. The benefits are clear, new forms of producing energy are achievable and can help lower emissions, while also providing a more stable means of energy for our country in that we would not have to rely on foreign entities as much. Go Tar Heels

Jones Veith

The most critical piece of RD&D investment in the United States is the fact that clean sources of energy will only grow more popular and necessary in the future. In order for the United States to remain a world power, it is critical that the government invest in energy technology. As the report mentioned, RD&D investments during the 70s and 80s are part of the reason we have decreased our dependence on foreign oil and become a world leader in natural gas production. An investment in RD&D would not only retain the US's status as a world power, it would also create jobs, reduce economic vulnerability, drive down the price of clean energy, reduce climate impacts, and build American companies' global market share. The most challenging aspect of this issue is not whether or not RD&D investment will help the United States, it is whether or not the United States will receive adequate RD&D investment. With Trump nearly at 100 days in office, the likelihood of adequate investment has become small. Further, the report mentions that private investment has leveled off. Additionally, China's research and development investments are expected to surpass the United States's by 2020, thus enabling them a better opportunity to become a world leader in clean energy. So, will Trump stand up to China like he promised? Will he let America be great again? Or even stay great?

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