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Mitchell Brister

I really enjoyed these articles as they put a large emphasis on solutions and viable options for the future. Something that I was thinking about when reading the Harvard magazine article is that humans are extremely reactive and rarely ever proactive. I began to think about this in terms of the nuclear reactor explosion in Chernobyl. Obviously the negative effects of Chernobyl are absolutely horrifying. My family actually would host a girl every summer from Belarus so that she could be clear of the radiation from Chernobyl if only for a small amount of time. But to get back on topic, my thought was that If an event like Chernobyl has completely turned off a generation from the numerous benefits from Nuclear energy, what an event would do for fossil fuels. My thought, as terrible as it is, was that if we had some sort of Chernobyl for fossil fuels, something that could represent the long term damage that our current fossil fuels are causing, outside of an oil spill, that the shift away from our current fuel sources would be tremendous. I know this isn't a great thought, but it just hit me that it almost always takes some sort of disaster to happen for people to change. I pray that climate change will be the exception.

Matthew Inglis

Nuclear fission offers an alternative to fossil fuel that is better for the environment, so it is a shame that nuclear power is such an important target for terrorists. However, the destructive and fear-causing capabilities of an attack on a nuclear plant would be far-reaching; in a world where violence is becoming more prevalent, the volatile nature of extremist groups makes the what if's of nuclear power become even more scary. Even if an attack must be incredibly precise for any real damage to be done, there is still the possibility.

Additionally, the waste component of nuclear fission makes nuclear power an even less likely candidate for alternative energy production. In regards to this, both the problems of terrorism and environmental damage are essential to evaluate. As Greenpeace International says, "Much of this nuclear waste will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years, leaving a poisonous legacy to future generations." Though coal combustion emissions are likely worse, there must be another choice when it comes to energy production - one that doesn't hurt the environment to a great extent. It is interesting to note when looking at the Stabilization Wedges paper the variety of energy sources. However, most have drawbacks. The only option that seems to have solely benefits is wind power.

Thus, out of necessity, further technologies must be developed. How is it possible to have such limited options when it comes to alternative energies? I suppose some big reasons are the coal lobby and the consistently low short-term consequences for high profits, but we must start thinking about our future and abandon methods that cause only some to profit. This will allow all of us, including generations to come, to benefit going forward.


Shlomo Honig

The record-breaking global temperatures that are repeatedly broken each year, as well as the necessity to rally public support to help combat climate change, are just as relevant today as they were when Jonathan Shaw wrote his paper, “Fueling our Future,” a decade ago. I found an article online a few days ago stating that this past February was by far the hottest February on record (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/mar/14/february-breaks-global-temperature-records-by-shocking-amount). This article discussed how the resolutions reached at the Paris climate change talks will likely need to be reevaluated due to their underestimation of global warming’s positive feedback loop. It really is startling to me that preventing a 2 °C increase from pre-industrial levels seems more and more unlikely because of how out of hand this problem has gotten in the last 10 years alone. The rapid increase in CO2 emissions also renders public action more imperative than ever in order to mitigate the damages that are heading our way in the future. As Shaw points out in his article, the world’s energy demand is only increasing due to developing countries with increasing populations. Since we are currently stuck in an energy infrastructure that relies too heavily on coal, efforts to alleviate the stresses imposed by the energy demands of both the developed and developing world need to be reconciled so that immediate actions, rather than proposed plans for future actions, are pursued.

Ty Mitchell

The Pacala and Socolow offer several strategies to help reduce carbon emissions going forward. The first couple of solutions they propose really do not hold a whole lot of weight in my mind. They seem to be simply restating some general solutions that have been thrown around, but lacking any sort of actual solution. I mean, obviously “improved efficiency” is a means to get to lower emissions, but we just have to sit back and wait for innovation to occur.
The solution for long-term reduction in emissions lies in large scaling of proven methods of renewable energy. There’s no point in converting cars to electric power when electric power is still primarily created through coal-fired power plants. Investment in wind and solar power needs to be at the forefront. Along with new innovation and technology, scaling production of these components could reduce costs, which is currently the biggest argument against these forms of energy.
My personal belief is that the United States should move more towards nuclear power. Nuclear power is actually incredibly safe relative to other power sources. The argument against nuclear power always reverts back to the idea of a meltdown or terrorist attack. Nuclear power is proven to create renewable energy, and as long as security and safety standards are met, the threat of negative consequence is minimal.

Hugh Gooding

When looking at the Pacala and Socolow article in particular, their research takes an unorthodox perspective when addressing the proper action that must be taken to handle the carbon and climate problem. Pacala and Socolow argue that the carbon and climate problem can and must be addressed with our current technological advancements. I got the feeling that Pacala and Socolow see the argument of waiting for future technological progress to address climate change and carbon emission as a 'cop-out' for not wanting to put forth the effort to handle the situation now. Their research and analysis uses the idea of ‘wedges’ to represent “an activity that reduces emissions to the atmosphere that starts at zero today and increases linearly until it accounts for 1GtC/year of reduced carbon emissions in 50 years.” There are seven wedges in the stabilization triangle, and a good portion of Pacala’s and Socolow’s paper is spent describing the currently available technologies and lifestyle changes that must occur in order to fill all seven wedges. It is evident that we are heading down an unsustainable road. Furthermore, I was most surprised by Pacala and Socolow’s options to achieve the seven wedges; they all seemed very much attainable. However as we have discussed in class, many of the options require absorbing private costs which are falling on society’s shoulders. With the available technology and information, education will become a key component for people to realize the social burden of low private costs. Government and corporate America must, at some point, wake up and acknowledge the benefits to society from absorbing some of these manageable costs.

Elizabeth Wolf

Aside from the startling reality of what these articles expose about the actual state of the environment and the implications for both the near and distant future, two of them touched on above, one of the realizations I had listening to Professor Casey today in class and reading these articles is the variability in the way the science is presented. Skeptics aside, which presents its own complications, even these three scholarly articles – though ultimately containing the same message – presented their information in differing ways. One specific example was the way in which the long-term effects of CO2 emissions were addressed in Schrag’s own paper vs. the Harvard publication regarding his research.

Schrag chose to focus on the Keeling curve and highlight the inadequacies of current climate models and their effects on glaciers - simulations cannot accurately predict what future climate change will do to the planet because of the lack of precedent. Though the Eocene consisted of a very warm earth, Schrag makes sure to point out that this condition was caused most likely by thick stratospheric clouds, and this cloud variable is noticeably absent from climate models because it is not a current factor in Earth’s climate and there is no quantifiable way to model something that doesn’t now exist. There is not enough time for the environment to reach equilibrium, and even the climatologists cannot keep up with the amount of change currently occurring.

In comparison, the Harvard publication approached the problem of CO2 emissions with photographs and data on the oceans. The ocean is the biggest unknown variable in the sharp rise in CO2, as 60% of all emitted CO2 gas gets absorbed in the oceans. While the article is of course littered with data and figures, the overall message of the article focuses on mitigation and adaptation solutions to dealing with the reality of continued emissions. Specifically, the Integrated Gassification Combined Cycle is presented as a means of capturing the CO2 waste being given off by the burning of coal. While Schrag’s earlier paper focuses on understanding the problem of climate change and presented some broad ideas of mitigation and adaptation, the Harvard publication spends much more time on coming up with plausible solutions.

While there are united lobbies for emissions-heavy industries that present unified information and market themselves quite well, there is no united lobby or central board for the environment. Even seemingly united concerned climatologists, or the same climatologist, and even individual governments cannot control the behavior of other institutions, and each has a way of spinning the data to suit their own needs. Add to that the reality that most pollutants are global pollutants, which basically means that their effect is uniform across the globe no matter where they are emitted, and this quickly becomes a worst-case negative externality example. The polluters are not even receiving a proportionally more concentrated negative effect of their emissions. I think ultimately what I realized from reading these papers is the need, once again, for a uniform “front” to combat climate change, and increased funding for climate models that will, for lack of a better term, scare countries and firms into taking better care of the environment. Specifically, while Schrag is presenting the same information he does so in two very different ways. This is simply a function of the vast and complicated nature of understanding climate change, as well as a result of advancing science and new discoveries. Though theoretically a “one-stop-shop” for the reality of climate change would facilitate a more concentrated effort to enact change, but the likelihood of this happening over state, country, cultural, and even opinion boundaries anytime soon, however, is sadly very slim.

Morgan Trimas

Though the “Fueling our Future” piece is now 10 years old, I do think it makes a good case. Something missing from many of the articles I’ve read for this class and others seems to be what Graham Allison quotes in this paper-that we need to focus our attention less on finding one fix-all alternative to fossil fuels and instead draw on every alternative resource to fix our problems of climate change. I think it is very interesting that the attention-grabbing fact in climate change is sea level rise. I believe this catches attention mostly because it is something that affects individual families and their homes on a daily basis, such as in Southern Miami right now, and it is a tangible issue. However, issues like biodiversity loss and depleting ecosystem services are issues not directly seen by each individual, but more indirectly affect “others” and society as a whole. I think there are policy issues that could potentially deal with the scares of terrorism surrounding nuclear energy, though I fully understand the worries are real and well-founded. I think it is more important to address the issues surrounding the waste and plants themselves before scaling, but I think nuclear energy still needs to be addressed as a piece of the alternative energy puzzle. The idea of carbon sequestration is a novel one, and sounds great in theory, but I wonder if the ocean sequestration Schrag proposes is a tested, proven hypothesis, or if it merely speculation at this point. Still, I think the most important message from this paper is the importance of acting quickly and keeping in mind all the measures necessary to reduce our emissions, while preventing any further inertia of this issue.

Spencer Payne

The Schrag paper and the Harvard Magazine article seem to prescribe the first step in combating global climate change.

To begin, both suggest — like we have discussed in class — that moral suasion is simply not an effective way to influence consumer behavior, saying that “…global warming is already linked to a pattern of record floods, droughts, heat, and other extreme events around the globe, and is expected to lead to extinctions of some plants and animals. But such news from the natural world has done little to galvanize political will.” With this in mind, the question therefore becomes: how do we decrease environmental damage if a number of people are unwilling to listen to the facts?

Both pieces then advocate for a similar, prudent approach — one that, in many ways, is centered on the economic principle of comparative advantage. The idea is simple: no one alternative to fossil fuels (e.g. wind, solar, nuclear, etc.) is the silver bullet. Rather, as Shrag suggests, “we are going to need everything [all energy production methods] — and then over time we will see how the economics sort out.”

Because this proposal seems logical and feasible, it put me at ease. Obviously, we have a long way to go before climate change is under control. But I think recognizing the total costs and total benefits associated with each energy production method, as both pieces touch on, is a key first step in determining what percentage of the energy production market each method should comprise. For if we are truly going to need every energy production method, we need such information to achieve efficiency.

Cara Hayes

While all three articles raised thought-provoking issues, I found “Confronting the Climate-Energy Challenge” by Daniel Schrag to be especially interesting. He identifies the actions that need to happen in order to reduce the risk of future climate change as increasing energy efficiency, increasing the stock of non-fossil energy generating, and adopting technologies for capturing and storing carbon dioxide. The last of these suggestions, carbon sequestration, particularly interested me. I have heard of carbon sequestration before but never knew that it involved physically capturing CO2 emissions and storing them in geologic repositories.

The US Department of Energy actually has a lot of detailed information on their website about carbon capture and storage. Schrag calls for improving carbon sequestration technologies and the DOE also recognizes that carbon capture technologies are not yet advanced enough for full-scale deployment. On the carbon storage side however, there are some value added propositions that could incentivize the further development of carbon sequestration. For example, CO2 can be used in an oil or natural gas reservoir to push out the oil or natural gas in a process called enhanced oil recovery. I would like to know exactly how widespread this process is and if it could be even more so because it takes something we have too much of, CO2, and uses it in a way that adds value.

While advancements in technology like carbon sequestration are great steps toward adapting to the problem of too much CO2, I think it is even more important to pursue developments that begin to mitigate the problem.

Ali Norton

The notion that technology and strategy to the climate-energy challenge exist and are already practiced at various levels strongly resonated across all three pieces. What is most surprising or frustrating is considering the timing of the articles that were published between 9 and 13 years ago. In different ways, the papers point to the pressing need for immediate energy reform and stresses the negative consequences of delaying action any further. Yet, we’re reading these materials a decade later and a policy solution does not appear on the horizon.

Schrag’s piece concisely portrays the “climate-energy challenge”, outlaying the scientific research as well as political components that have influenced discussion and views of climate change. Numerous partial solutions to the climate energy problem already exist but the solutions have not been transferred on a large scale because of political boundaries. As we look at the climate-energy challenge nearly a decade after Schrag wrote this piece, the most pressing issue seems to be how we can “de-politicize” climate change and implement far reaching policies. All three of the articles reiterate with a sense of urgency the importance of implementing solutions as soon as possible because the longer we wait, the more difficult and costly they will be.

From my understanding, some of the myth around climate-energy solutions is that they are unknown, impractical, or not feasible. Pacala and Socolow’s article, outlining 15 options to achieve “stabilization wedges” of carbon emissions demonstrated the range of solution potentials, from user/demand based options to technology based options. The fact that these options are not just theoretical but are currently implemented at an industrial scale completely dispels the myth of climate-energy solutions being intangible.

Because on a national scale, the energy discussion is so politically charged, I’m curious as to what cities and regions have been making strides towards implementing energy solutions. When I lived in Atlanta this summer, I was surprised and impressed with the amount of infrastructure supporting electric vehicles in the city. Several colleges expressed their decisions to purchase or lease EVs for tax credit purposes, but their decision to purchase the car only appeared feasible because of the amount of infrastructure in place. I am curious as to how this movement towards promoting EVs began and how it can be replicated or transferred across other growing cities in the U.S.

Jonah M Mackay

Each of these pieces details the effect of increased carbon levels on the atmosphere, global temperatures, and environmental change. Huge carbon emissions from fossil fuel production and use have enormous externalities - dramatically changing the temperature of our planet. While some argue that variation in earth's temperature is natural and not a result of man's influence, evidence collected from a variety of sources indicate that current temperature and CO2 levels are far higher than they have ever been in the past - even during times of global heating.

Unfortunately, solving the issues of global warming and climate change are not easy. Sequestering carbon from the atmosphere is hard to do, especially as we continue to pump out more from sources such as coal and oil. Pacala and Socalow determine a portfolio of goods and processes that would help to rectify the damage we are doing to the planet through global warming. Ending the clear cutting of rain forests, fostering increased use of solar and wind power. Their ideas are well within the realms of tested science, and when used together could accomplish a great deal of good.

I sincerely doubt that this portfolio will be implemented. The lobbying efforts of coal and petroleum are among the strongest in our government, and it is questionable at best that it will be possible to create incentives (at least through governmental means) that push towards a more sustainable future. The magnitude of these environmental problems, combined with the need for swift action are sincerely hampered by the inner workings of our government.

Maddi Boireau

After starting to read the Harvard Magazine article I started to feel a bit optimistic about where our Earth was going. The talk of nuclear power did not convince my that nuclear power was this way to go, nor did they say it was but it gave me some optimism that we have options other than fossil fuels. When I kept reading, that glimpse of optimism quickly faded. To start, it is quite simply, uncomfortable knowing that "our understanding of glaciers is so bad..." Any time scientists speak of something that could and in this case will greatly affect our near future, we want them to know things. This part of the article basically says they don't. Even if we stop what we are doing now, the CO2 levels in the air will continues to rise.
In the article, the author says that, "any other alternative energy source alone" will not solve the problem. There is so much more we need to do.
If we did continue on the route of nuclear energy, the amount of money we would need to continue pursuing a safer way to collect it, I believe is basically unattainable. Even if we got our hands on that amount of money, the cost of energy was increase because somehow we would need a monetary return on it. The truth is, there is no realistic replacement for fossil fuels and coal. It would need to be just as cheap and just as easily attainable. This is all before we even talk about nuclear energy still not being a "clean energy source." The nuclear waste, I'm sure I can debate is just as bad as the CO2 coal emits. The best argument I think is like I said before, the fear of not knowing what it will do. Nuclear energy hasn't been around for that long and the waste right now is being buried. It's only a matter of time before something terrible pops up because of it.

Sierra Tamm

Nuclear energy is something that I still do not fully understand. After reading the article by Jonathan Shaw there were a few things that I found particularly interesting. The article was written ten years ago in 2006. At this time the shift to nuclear energy within the United States was still a new concept. The government even passed legislation that incentivized this form of alternative energy. It mentions that as people move away from debating whether or not climate change is real to deciding on how to mitigate the consequences people will be more comfortable with nuclear energy. Unfortunately, I think that in the past ten years as a country we are still debating if climate change is anthropogenic and therefore our responsibility to take care of. I was also surprised that Shaw explained that nuclear energy is not enough to meet all of our needs from energy. In my mind, this reaffirms the need for a diverse energy portfolio including other forms of sustainable energy like wind, solar, and hydro. Additionally, he says that it would not be in our best interest to depend entirely on nuclear because there is a high risk if an accident happens. He argues that these accidents will happen and that we need to be cognizant of their potential.

Oliver Nettere

The Mauna Loa study is important in climate science but only dates back 60 something years and began well after the industrial revolution. Longer term studies are very important to address the anthropogenic effects of climate change and are needed to separate these results from other natural occurring climate trends (also important to provide a counter-arguement to the "natural warming trend" ideas...). Proxies, which can serve as stand-in measurements for paleoclimate and CO2 concentrations are possible through a number of methods. In Confronting the Climate Energy Challenge, they touched upon carbon and boron isotopes to measure paleoclimate and pH, respectively. I am relatively familiar with isotope methods and was aware of using carbon isotopes for climate. Boron isotopes can indicate pH because compounds containing boron can dissociate in acidic waters leaving the 11B isotope to decay (I had to look this one up, Hemming & Honisch 2007). Carbon isotopes can tell paleoclimate because during periods of warm climate C4 plants are more dominate and become enriched in 13C while during cooler periods C3 plants are more dominate and are less enriched in 13C. The tree rings carbon isotope data you keep mentioning in class is a proxy for burning hydrocarbons. HC's have lighter carbon isotope values than the normal atmosphere value and tree rings will incorporate lighter and lighter d13C values over time. Oxygen isotopes can also be a proxy for paleoclimate as during cold periods there is greater amounts of 16O frozen in the polar regions so the ocean sediments/forams become enriched in 18O (I think Prof Greer is using these proxies). I think isotopes are a very powerful tool in a lot of fields of science.

Yishu Liu

Every time I read papers about environmental history and how the science/evidence is right in front of our faces, yet no actions are taken, I always feel distressed and lose hope in the world. “Confronting the Climate Energy Challenge” suggested three main action plans. I will be assessing the possibility and progress on those plans.

The first one is the reduction of energy demand. It really means reducing energy usage of things we do today. In order to do so, we need more research and development to make the technology needed to be more efficient. However, R&D costs money, companies are unlikely to invest money and time into building a new technology unless they see the need/demand for it in the future. Such signal will have to come in the form of a government mandate and/or public sentiments for the desire to change. The general public cares more about being more energy efficient today, which is a good start, but not enough progress has been made.

The second solution is non-Fossil Energy systems. Basically, renewable energies. This is one area where actions to mitigate climate change are visible. As we talked about in class, several states are utilizing renewables. In addition, as part of 2009 Recovery Act, money was invested into energy efficiency and renewable energy research. So progress is actually being made here.

The last suggestion is carbon sequestration. The cost of carbon sequestration is incredibly expensive and the technology is not fully developed. In my opinion, I think rather than relying on man made carbon sequestration, we should preserve more peatlands and wetlands which naturally sequesters carbon. Overall, outlook is not very clear. Actions are needed like 10 years ago…

Emily Rollo

I think this article did a really good job at simplifying the carbon and climate problem and their solutions by breaking it down into the seven wedges of the stabilization triangle. In order to solve these problems in the next 50 years, we as society must utilize certain technologies and make lifestyle changes in order to fill all seven wedges. Pacala and Socolow offer many options that could be “scaled up” to fill at least one wedge. One option stuck out to me the most. The idea regarding forest management seemed very impractical to me. I think that because even ending tropical rainforest harvesting altogether would only create one half of a wedge. The efforts, economically and socially, that would go into this would be so high and it would take so long and it would not even fill one complete wedge. As we already know, it is not the “slash and burn” forest management technique that is the problem. Instead, it is when a large population is coupled with this technique that it becomes an issue because it brought to a large scale. With the population still growing, it is going to be difficult to limit, let alone end entirely, this type of forest management because you must deal with the people and not just the forests.

Alison Peacock

I found the article, “Confronting the Climate-Energy Challenge” by Daniel Schrag very interesting. He lays out his argument in a way that is easy to understand. It is sad to hear that Schrag believes any solution created now will be incomplete because of the damage already done. It is hard to get people on board with solutions because they will take upwards of 50 years to complete. With this long length of time, people feel as though there are more pressing issues we need to address now and that its okay if we think about climate change later, which is not the case. Focusing on adaptation will not cause climate change to go away. Somehow, we need to make it more apparent that pushing off mitigation will only increase the cost of adaptation in the future. It was overwhelming to hear that it would take more than 200 years for terrestrial and oceanic uptake of carbon to restore the atmosphere back to where it was before industrialization, and that is only if we eliminate all of our emissions. It is also difficult to get people on board with mitigation when there is not a specific solution that can be applied to all countries. No country’s energy sources and level of use are the same, so cutting emissions will have a different effect world wide. This is also where the discussion of developing vs. developed countries comes up most often. Countries that are still developing tend to emit more whereas the fully developed countries are able to emit less. This leads to some tensions on who is most responsible for the CO2 emissions already in the atmosphere, and who should cut carbon emissions now.

In another environmental studies course, we looked at an article in Rolling Stone, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719?page=2). Though it was published a few years ago, it still has relevant, interesting information. It puts global warming and climate change into more 3 easy to understand numbers. It explains how we need to stay under a 2-degree Celsius increase of the Earth’s temperature. Anything above a 2-degree increase will be associated with irreversible damage. The next two numbers show the limit of carbon dioxide that the Earth can handle (565 gigatons) and how much carbon we have in coal, oil, and natural gas reserves (2,795 gigatons). The amount of carbon in reserves is five times higher than what scientists believe the world can handle. This further proves the point that we cannot continue business as usual. We cannot continue to use coal, oil, and natural gas and deal with the damages later because it will already be too late.

Ashby Gatens

As a disclaimer, this might be mostly the end of the semester stress talking, but after our in class discussions and the information presented in these articles, I am left wondering if there will ever come a point where we may as well give up on trying to stop global warming. There is ample scientific evidence to support the notion of climate change in tree rings, in ice along the equator, and a multitude of other places, and yet there is still significant indifference to the damage being done to the environment. At this point, the damage is so profound that the Earth is outside the norm of variability to the point where it has not resembled this state for over 50 million years, and yet many people remain indifferent or deny the problem altogether. While these articles make many valid points and propose viable alternatives, particularly the Pascala article which proposed an extensive list of ways to improve upon the current situation, it seems that these suggestions come and go, and are not always followed. Due to this phenomenon I wonder if the notion of adapting to the effects rather than focusing on mitigation is perhaps a more viable alternative. However, the Schrag article also does make a good point in saying that without mitigation, adaptation would become increasingly difficult. While I think that abandoning efforts to switch to more environmentally friendly forms of energy is certainly not the answer at this time, I simply wonder if there will ever come a time when climate scientists decide it’s just not worth it anymore.

Hines Liles

The Harvard Magazine article on dealing with carbon introduced me to an interesting technology- the IGCC plants. I liked that this plant worked with the coal, the resource that we seem to love so much for energy production. But I also found the article a little contradicting. It talked about scale- being able to make these cleaner technologies on a large scale. But the IGCC plant seems difficult to make on a large scale. This article was written in 2006, and since then we have made some but not much progress with IGCC plants in the U.S. Some investors have been scared away due to proposals that full risk disclosure be required for plants. Another example, in Nevada senator Harry Reid opposes investing in IGCC plants because they still emit carbon (forgetting that they can capture and store carbon.) He believes that the money can be spent investing in other technologies, solar, wind, and geothermal. He kind of has a point. Extreme amounts of money will be spent either way to “scale” these technologies, why not spend it on ones that don’t emit carbon at all? Even though the article does point out that wind can’t be scaled as a huge replacement there are other ways to spend the money. I also have to mention that there is risk when you stuff carbon into an old oil well or into the ocean floor. Things can go wrong and carbon can leak back out.

Bennett Henson

Climate change is considered a problem by around 97-98% of scientists. While it is widely considered a real and credible threat among those who know the most about it, it is an unmentionable in our current political atmosphere. Mentioning the importance of human activity's effect on climate change almost definitely results in a drop in the polls for politicians. The reason climate change is not mentioned in the political arena is that it takes place over decades and centuries whereas election happen every 2 or 4 years. This is a problem. We are not doing enough to stop climate change and the world is suffering due to our inaction. We have a problem of being too short sided, and it is going to take incentivizing the production and use of clean energy sources to shift our current consumption patters to a more sustainable method.
Shaw's paper made me realize how the gravity of our current situation when he expressed that a goal of 550 ppm is 45% our current level, but would require a 70% reduction in how we currently do things. Today's actions may have serious consequences tomorrow. But it's not just the future generations who will suffer from climate change, many people today suffer from climate change, just ask residents of Miami. As Schrag says, the technology to reduce CO2 and therefore climate change is there, all it takes is the will to act. In order to act we need funding, and in order to raise funding we first must increase awareness of the issues facing our environment. I believe one potential way to get the wheels moving would be requiring climate change discussion in public school national sciences courses, but I highly doubt that would go over smoothly with the politicians who have our educational system in the palms of their hands.

Amanda Wahlers

I very much liked the focus these papers placed on solutions to the issue of climate change, but I must admit to having been skeptical of some of their proposals because of prior readings we’ve done in this class. Specifically, the full-cost accounting for coal paper detailed the reasons carbon sequestration is probably not a good solution, but that same process was very much supported by the authors of two of these readings. It’s always confusing to see experts disagree on issues because it leaves me wondering why this has occurred- is each relying on different data to support his position, is one simply more risk-averse than the other, does one feel the dangers of carbon sequestration outweigh the costs of doing nothing about climate change while the other simply believes there are more promising alternatives?

I particularly appreciated the suggestion in these papers about relying on a portfolio of alternative energies to meet energy-needs while mitigating climate change because I feel like I’ve really only previously heard people focus on silver bullets- usually while lamenting that there isn’t one and so we can’t do anything.

Lilly Grella

Each of the three articles seemed to hold the same tone regarding the status of Earth and climate change. Each reveals a few solutions to the rising CO2 levels, but alerts the reader to the fact that things will have to change in big ways to succeed in reversing the affects of burning large amounts of fossil fuels. I appreciated the emphasis placed on the fact that there are feasible solutions, even though some of them are difficult or costly to enact. The authors made it obvious that there is no silver bullet. There is no one solution that will mitigate all the problems associated with global warming. The scope of the problem is enormous and relies on both a bottom up and a top down solution. On one hand, local level actions can do some good, but it is necessary for the countries to interact with each other to come up with a plan going into the future. Without being too pessimistic, these articles make it seem as though we are too far-gone; despite this, efforts to reduce greenhouse gases should not stop. Hopefully smaller successes will lead to larger ones.

Rachel Stone

These articles were interesting because they proposed more possible solutions than articles we've read in the past. While I'm encouraged by all the possible solutions, I feel like we continue to talk in circles. There is ample evidence of climate change and the threat to the environment. There has been undeniable evidence for many years now, yet people still say global warming isn't a concern. One of the lines in Schrag's article says "that any 'solution' will be incomplete." While not necessarily the most comforting thought, I think he is definitely being realistic. Even the Paris climate change talk doesn't do justice to the level of reduction necessary for the state we've put the world in today. In class we spoke about Schrag's findings that the current atmosphere is above 380 ppm of carbon dioxide. Some geological changes that previously happened over many centuries are now happening in people's lifetimes. Something that comes to my mind after having been to many of these cities, the threat of places like Miami, Venice and New York City sinking, is constantly becoming more of a possibility. In discussing possible solutions related to the CO2 problem, Schrag acknowledges that we must act and we must act quickly. I think all three of these articles did a nice job of illustrating the current situation and suggestions as to what would need to be done to fix it. But I question whether anything will actually change in the future or if the fight for global climate change is futile.

Matt Parker

Schrag's article paints a bleak picture on our future and the future of climate change. For one, Schrag points out that even if we were to cut our emissions to 0 (as professor Casey always jokes that requires us to stop breathing), it would still take 200 years to return our CO2 levels to pre-industrial periods. That means that for 200 years the Earth would continue to feel our effects even if we were to cease existing, resulting in more glaciers melting, sea levels continuing to rise, and other negative effects. This is a very sobering thought to process. Schrag further points out there is no "silver bullet" solution. Just as Professor Casey we have to diversify our energy portfolio. We can't expect to find one energy source and rely solely on that source as we expose ourselves to some sort of exogenous shock that could cripple us.
What baffles me are those that don't acknowledge the use of fossil fuels at the rate we use them is a non-issue. Further along that point are politicians who hide behind big money and donations and ignore science. I was curious what the deniers says (also there is an alarmingly high rate of 56% of Republicans who deny or question climate change and the science behind it.) So I was also curious as to what the argument was which led me to "the most comprehensive assault on global warming yet." I know none of us are climate scientists, but I found it to be an interesting read nonetheless.


Benie Bolohan

With an ever growing global population, I think the necessity for alternative energy should be prioritized much more than it currently is. It seems to me that many people believe that, because of the larger initial investment required for more sustainable energy sources, sustainable energy is too costly to pursue in large quantities. I think that, after reading these articles, the truth is the exact opposite. In the long-run, these investments will more than pay off—both financially and environmentally—especially with larger quantities of people using energy. Additionally, if the cost of sustainable energy is too high, then I am curious how people would respond if the less sustainable energy options reflected the true cost of consumption. Since 2006, when the “Fueling our Future” article from the Harvard magazine was published, I believe we have made sufficient technological progress that we can begin to implement more sustainable energy than nuclear power plants even, and on a much larger scale. We always hear about how quickly technology is changing—within the past generation alone the internet has been widely spread and developed to what it is today and phones have gone from bulky, simplistic, expensive devices to these small “smart” phones that can process multiple tasks at once. The world of technology is changing and, if we direct this change towards implementing widespread, sustainable energy, I think we would be amazed at the progress we make and how quickly we can accomplish this. But this can only be done if we prioritize sustainable energy—which cannot happen until the market accurately reflects the costs associated with various sources of energy. So long as people fear change, and how change may impact our "delicate" economy, I cannot see positive actions being pursued.

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