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Jackson Hotchkiss

This article included one idea specifically that I would like to start with. The article read "The first category involves reducing CO2 emissions by reducing energy consumption. This does not necessarily require reducing economic activity, i.e. consuming less; rather means reconstructing society" under the "Reduction of Energy" section. I have heard what seems like a million times before that we as a whole need to cut down on the burning of fossil fuels or in some cases do away with them entirely. However, the idea of reconstruction of the society we already live in made a lot of sense to me. Instead of putting a focus on figuring out ways to make the burning of fossil fuels cleaner, maybe our efforts should be making things such as electric cars more mainstream and affordable for all. It is only at the point where one does not have to go out of their way to make a sustainable decision that is truly going to begin to reconstruct society. It was also shocking to see that around 40% of all CO2 emitted into the atmosphere comes from the transportation sector. To me, it feels like a no-brainer to reduce the emissions coming from this sector. Especially if it can all be traced back to one thing. Untimitally I feel like the only way to truly reduce the amount of CO2 being released in this sector is to go electric. As we have mentioned in class, when a car manufacturer makes a car that gets good fuel mileage, that's great, but it does not persuade the owner to drive any less. Instead, it makes the driver more inclined to drive to get more bang for the buck off-gas. Ultimately this article was pretty encouraging for me. If we know not only how, but where to make the biggest cuts to CO2 emissions, I feel like it's only a matter of time before it happens.

Izzy Koziol

I have appreciated reading both of these articles because among the multitude of things that I learned from them, I was particularly enlightened by the discussion of fossil fuel alternatives which could fulfill our energy needs. I have been frustrated by the fact that we have known for a while now that our emissions from burning fossil fuels are driving climate change, and we have also known of multiple energy alternatives that do not involve emitting heat trapping gasses. So, my question has been, if members of the energy industry and lawmakers have been aware of these things, why has more progress not been made towards a global energy transition. The two articles made me aware that while there are energy alternatives that exist, there are caveats to all of them. For example, while nuclear energy use does not emit any greenhouse gasses, according to the “Confronting the Climate–Energy Challenge” article, nuclear power would only be effective at reducing carbon emissions if two large nuclear plants were built each week for the next 100 years, which is not feasible. Both articles lead to the conclusion that there is not one be all and end all solution to climate change, even though the cause is relatively singular. The Fueling our Future article makes a concluding statement that alternative energy sources will be important to utilize more, but in order to meet demand while keeping atmospheric CO2 in check, we will also have to “burn coal with advanced technologies that allow its carbon content to be captured.” The article offers a comprehensive, two part engineered solution that involves gasifying the coal and sequestering it into underground reservoirs. This solution is unique as it does not argue that fossil fuel energy sources need to be eliminated (which is pretty unrealistic), and it is also attainable because expert engineers have proposed a step by step plan. The next step is to implement a comprehensive and attainable solution like this before it is too late.

Claire Jenkins

Overall, I found both of these articles to be very informative; however, at the same time, I found them to be very unsettling. The Earth has reached a point that humans have never seen; the atmosphere is under extreme pressure and we are reaching the point of no return. One of major point that was made in both of the articles was that even if we completely halted CO2 emissions right now, we would still face extreme effects of climate change in the long-run due to the activities and actions that have already taken place. This was extremely unsettling and disturbing for me to read. Our current atmospheric state could still lead to the complete melting of the ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica. Oceans would also continue to warm for several more decades even if we stopped all emissions today. Reducing emissions, going beyond just keeping emissions at our current level, would likely only postpone climate change impacts as opposed to preventing many of them. Next, it was important that the authors of both pieces pointed out that the models that we use to predict the future of climate change and its effects are likely producing conservative estimates, underestimating a lot of effects. This is something that more people should be made aware of, especially to policy makers, when thinking of what measures need to be put in place to mitigate climate change. The consequences of climate change and global warming could be much worse than we are anticipating, so it is extremely crucial that we utilize the precautionary principle and expend all of our efforts to figure out ways to mitigate these effects. The uncertainty and unpredictability of the current climate status of our planet is extremely troubling and needs to be taken more seriously by people in all walks of life.

Jessica Pachuca

I thought the Fueling Our Future article was interesting in that it provided a solution by offering an alternative method to present energy use. Rather than suggest a transition to a completely new alternative, there was a discussion of fixing a current method. Though, there was an emphasis on using multiple types. However, I do wonder to what extent this would make addressing climate change more politically feasible? In the article it brought an example of real visible changes in our world, such as the melting of glaciers. In addition, there are the recent floods in Lismore, in which some people have stated is a result of climate change. It is frustrating to see real impacts of climate change with little being done to help the issue. Are we waiting until it's too late? There doesn't seem to be a care for many social issues unless people are directly affected. Are people hesitant towards change because they would rather stick to traditional methods? If so, would the adaptation of technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal align more with politicians who are hesitant? To what extent? The other article, Confronting the Climate-Energy Change, suggested towards the end, a need for more efficient adaptations. The examples given included transportation, technology and non-fossil energy alternatives. These are heavily emphasized by environmentalists already, and while there has been some change, there has not been enough. How can we make these necessary changes more attractive towards individuals preferring more traditional methods, or perhaps, those who are afraid of change?


I especially enjoyed the first Harvard article because it begins by directly contradicting the argument posed by many climate deniers being that the current period of global warming is not due to anthropogenic causes but is part of a natural fluctuation as we have seen throughout earth’s history. Ironically, considering that I am an environmental major, my dad is a fervid climate denier who clings onto this very point whenever we argue about whether humans are causing climate change. I always appreciate reading articles like this one to further reinforce the point I always retort with, being, as Shrag puts it, “we are perpetuating the atmosphere beyond any state seen through the entire history of the human species” as can be clearly seen in figure 2. Though the article made me more hopeful in my success for inevitable future arguments with my father, It did not make me feel better about the state of our world. Shrag’s statement that “if we were to reduce our emissions to zero immediately, it would take more than 200 years for terrestrial and oceanic uptake of carbon to restore the atmosphere to its pre-industrial condition” along with his assumption that we are presumably underestimating future estimations of climate change makes our future appear ill-fated. Though climate scientists have become more accurate in their climate projection models since the article was written, the steps necessary for halting warming as stated in the conclusion do not seem to have been implemented at the rate in which Shrag suggests they should have. The second Harvard article also made me feel disheartened. In the year this article was written, we were at 380 PPM, and we are now at 412 ppm. This makes it appear somewhat unlikely we will stay under the goal of 550 ppm by 2100, considering we concentrations have already increased by about 30 ppm in just 16 years.

Cal Christianson

I found Shrag’s article very interesting, especially how he addressed the apparent problems associated with transitioning to a cleaner future. While he maintains a positive view of clean energy sources, he is quick to point out the caveats associated with each source. In addition to the problems he discusses with each source, there are other ecological issues associated with them. For example, Shrag points out that while wind energy is a very cost effective way of producing electricity, it has problems with storage and transportation, making it difficult to be the “fix-all” to our energy issues. While this is a big concern, wind energy also causes harm by interrupting the migratory paths of birds. Hydro-electric power, an early alternative to using fossil fuels, produces large amounts of energy. The Hoover dam and the Three Gorges dam are both examples of hydro-electric plants that have transformed the energy landscape in their respective regions. But all dams do damage to the natural ecosystem. In the case of Three Gorges, over three million people were displaced from their homes. The resulting flooding of the Yangtze river damaged a large swath of land, resulting in the loss of ecosystem services. The real question with all energy sources is whether the pros outweigh the cons. Many climate skeptics point to these cons as potential reasons why moving away from fossil fuels should not be an immediate task. This argument, however, is not intelligent. Yes, the paths of migratory birds might be disrupted, Yes, ecosystems might be irreversibly altered. But both of these negative effects are a better outcome than the current trajectory, something that Shrag makes clear. I also found it interesting how humans have found ways to utilize the resources available to us. I found his anecdote about the German war machine transforming coal into liquid fuel fascinating. Environmentally, this process is harmful and was difficult to discover. But for a country starved of oil, the most important resource for waging war, it was viewed as a high priority. To me, this story highlights the human ability to manufacture solutions when we have enough incentive. While the cause was horrific, the project gives me hope that our current scientific and technological efforts will eventually bear fruit.

Allyssa Utecht

I really enjoyed JOnathan Shaw's piece "Fueling Our Future" because of his more cautiously optimistic presentation. I particularly liked the idea of 'stabilization wedges' - climate actions that doe no completely solve the problem, but are temporary solutions that are better than nothing. These will be extremely helpful for stabilizing atmospheric carbon levels by 2050, and will allow us to dedicate our time and resources to developing other mitigation, sequestration, and adaptation methods. Since we do not have the current technology, resources, money, or social willingness to immediately adopt carbon-free methods of power, I think it is important that we employ these more energy-efficient methods during the transition process. They may not be the most effective options, but anything is better than nothing, and I don't believe we are in a position to be selective or picky about our mitigation efforts. For example, nuclear is a widely debated carbon-free source of energy. The world is scared of nuclear after Chernobyl, and while it definitely is not going to be the only or best solution, it presents a critical part of the puzzle. We know that nuclear can provide massive amounts of energy without releasing any carbon, and we know that in order to scale it to be a relevant contributor to energy production, thousands of more reactors will need to be built. If we are to wait a few decades for innovation to come up with the ideal solution, I fear it will be too late; until then, I believe we must work to direct funds to creating current viable energy options - such as nuclear - in order to slow our biggest enemy, inertia. A crucial part of this is recognizing that we do not have to invest our money in or choose only one energy source, but rather viewing the climate crisis as a puzzle that requires a variety of pieces. Before any change can be made, however, we must locate the proper funds for projects to solve the carbon problem - which would require only 1% of GDP aka what we spent on the Iraq war - and that begins by first getting the correct policymakers and influential people to believe that the climate crisis is real and worth investing in.

Carter Dummett

I think that Shrag's approach is an interesting one. I feel as if we hear all the time that we need to convert to renewable energy and we need to do it now and then we talk about the downsides of each technology. In that conversation or ones that I have had nuclear energy is not a part of it. People need to understand that yes the tech is flawed but by taking a multi faceted approach we can work to combat those flaws. On top of that if we start implementing these technologies people will, in greater numbers, work on improving said technologies as well. Why would anyone want to go into a space where there incredibly useful technology will continue to be shot down and ignored? the answer is simple, they wouldn't.I also never thought about how we were able to get out of a glacial period at any length. Snow and ice would reflect back the suns rays due to their high albedo and keep temperatures pretty cool. It was interesting to actually understand now how we got out of the glacial period to where we are now which is supposed to be cooling again. We just aren't.

Blake Cote

In the Schrag article I found it optimistic when he points out that we need to change existing energy systems. He noted that the changes must be in three different areas: increasing energy efficiency, increasing the stock of non-fossil energy generation, and adopting technologies for capturing and storing carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. I find it less intimidating that he speaks on altering existing systems and not creating the eerie and uncertain demand for an entire new system and if we don’t create it, we are doomed. I also like how he pointed out how many companies and countries are paying more attention to nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy. A question arose for me after he also stated that these are all very expensive alternatives and I question how different countries are going to be able to fund these greener alternatives of energy acquisition. In the Harvard Magazine article one part in particular that made me feel unsettled is when Shaw talks about how with the amount that we currently suspect that is stored in the Earth we will run out of oil in 41 years, natural gas in 67 years and coal in 164 years. But with an ever expanding population and with the suspicion that global population growth will increase by 50% by the end of the century, the demand for energy and the dependence on these natural resources will only continue to grow. Sometimes, the depth of the problems associated with climate change unnerve and I begin to feel hopeless. Keeping in the back of mind that coal is the “dirtiest” fossil fuel only adds to this stress and anxiety. I appreciated the following points that there are two ways to sort of “clean up” the process of getting energy from the burning of coal. The first is to gasify the coal to separate the CO2 before it is able to be released into the atmosphere, and the second way would be to sequester the CO2 by directing it into underground reservoirs where experts think (as of now) it will remain buried forever. While these two practices might not be the perfect end solution, it is a start in the right direction and could buy us some time before we are able to discover the optimal, most cost effective way to get closer to being able to depend on renewable energy sources completely in the future, and creating coal-gasification plants.

Clara Ortwein

I found the Harvard article to be particularly interesting because of the commentary on carbon sequestration. I have learned in previous courses about carbon sequestration methods and have placed a lot of hope in their future success. Reading this article, however, brought back the sense of hesitancy that always creeps in after first learning about climate solutions. What worried me most was the goal that Daniel Shrag set to limit atmospheric concentration of CO2 to 550 ppm, which is a high number. Even this would require such a high level of intervention, and yet it will be "disastrous." Even as an Environmental Studies major, I read this and I wonder what the point of trying is if we can't set a goal below that. But then again, I realize it doesn't do much good to set a completely unattainable goal. In this energy transition, the description about coal cleaning carbon sequestration technology sounded very promising to me, I wonder what the technology that can take carbon out of the atmosphere could contribute to this transition. There wasn't much mention of this being applied, and I don't know how advanced this technology is, but this seems like a crucial piece of the puzzle, considering how unlikely it seems that many of these coal gassification plants will be built widespread globally in the near future. But then the question is, who will invest in these technologies to account for global carbon emission? With the lack of stringent carbon controls in so many countries, particularly the US, I feel unoptimistic.

AJ Mabaka

I found both these articles to be, naturally, quite unsettling, but also interesting. I think that two very important points were made in each article, the first being that climate change is already occurring and no amount of mitigation techniques will be able to prevent climatic change from happening. The second point was that there is no silver bullet to mitigating climate change, but rather, a multifaceted approach is necessary to begin mitigating and then adapting to climate change on the global scale. Only by relying on solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, and biomass energy collectively, can we then hope to increase efficiency in energy production and (ideally) retire the currently inefficient energy systems we use (i.e., oil, gas, and coal). Interestingly, I thought that Shaw's article brought up an intriguing point regarding nuclear power specifically. In the post-Chernobyl world, there are serious sentiments of fear and mistrust regarding the use of nuclear power, which is arguably fair given the devastating events seen when nuclear power "goes wrong"/fails. On the other hand, a form of energy that doesn't produce carbon is rather attractive given the ever pressing need to reduce carbon emissions. Yet Schrag points out that upscaling nuclear power and the number of power plants , as seen with Chernobyl, would likely have devastating consequences. "Think about a world with 10,000 nuclear reactors... We have only a few hundred today. What is the probability of a big accident? It’s going to happen."

Nevertheless, I also found the idea of restructuring society, from Schrag's article, to be rather important. Once we, as a society, can commit to cleaner renewable energy systems and dispose of our reliance on fossil fuels, then I think we can truly begin to combat climatic change. However, as Jackson so elegantly put "it is only at the point where one does not have to go out of their way to make a sustainable decision that is truly going to begin to reconstruct society." There are certianly clear political and economic barriers that limit the widespread adoption of more efficient and renewable energy systems. Although, it's only fair to acknowledge that the lack of scientific research and understanding of these renewable energy systems also limits their widespread implementation. Nonetheless, I wonder how the message of urgency regarding the need to adopt these systems can be better communicated? Because I think it's easy to read articles like these with a grain of salt so to speak, wherein we operate under the assumption that these drastic climatic changes will happen gradually (in such a way that those of us alive today won't be as adversely affected). However, both articles point out the fact that our current climate prediction models are likely conservative and may significantly underestimate the degree of variability in anticipated climatic change. As such, we may very well see drastic and adverse climatic changes in the span of 100-500 years, but it is the latter end of that time scale range that I think warrants the most concern and level of urgency in developing solutions and mitigation/adaptation strategies.


I honestly appreciated Schrag's realistic approach to the climate change situation, and he basically left it at, "It depends". No one knows what the future holds and what the outcomes to "solutions" hold. Although I appreciated the viewpoint and the realism of the article, it did leave me feeling worried about the state we are in. It sounds like no matter what solution we implement, and Schrag made it clear that there is no one solution fix-all for the situation, there really is not a solution at all. He says, "the first challenge we most confront in working towards a solution to future climate change is that any "solution" will be incomplete". Nothing we do will ever be enough and climate change is inevitable. This was highlighted by him saying even if we reduce our emissions to zero immediately (which obviously is the furthest thing from possible) it would take over 200 years to restore the atmosphere to pre-industrial conditions. Although mitigation tactics were mentioned in the article, it seems like an article I would not want a lot of the world reading. I feel like the realistic viewpoint of being too far gone to help but the possibility for adaption to new norms would make a lot of people confused and not care about making a difference. I think adaptation efforts need to be a point of stress over just "solutions" because it seems like that is our only hope. Every single "solution" presented was also followed by reasons why the strategy was hard to achieve. The part about there being no single strategy for how the world needs to address climate change resonated with me as well. I think there need to be different teams for different locations coming up with "solutions" or mitigation tactics. (There might be already I just do not know) I guess the problem with if we are going to be okay in regards to climate change goes back to the golden words, "It depends".

Kate Hannon

In “Fueling our Future”, Professor Schrag, a professor of earth and planetary studies at Harvard, describes an exercise in which undergraduate students are asked to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of CO2 below 550 ppm by the year 2100. Schrag chose 550 ppm because it would require major changes in our behavior but is probably achievable (unlike lower ppm levels). I really enjoyed learning about this project. Though it is sad that success is so difficult to achieve, exercises like this one give me hope because it allows people to quantitatively visualize possible climate change solutions at the undergraduate level. Personally, though I care about climate change and have tried to educate myself on it, real solutions to issues like CO2 levels have always felt like something only experts could understand. Being able to be a part of these solutions, even on a theoretical level, makes the climate crisis seem so much more accessible to college students. Even if, as Schrag’s students quickly learned, these solutions are complicated and extremely difficult, they gain a much greater understanding of what must be done to stabilize our levels of CO2 production. Reading about this project made me feel more capable of understanding the specific policies that will define the level of success or failure of our response to climate change. It is unfortunate that only students in Professor Schrag’s “Technological Approaches to Mitigation of Climate Change” are expected to complete this project; I would argue that this exercise, or something similar, should be mandatory for all college students, especially students at liberal arts colleges like W&L. Just as we value cultivating a baseline understanding of literature and math, understanding the ways in which we can address climate change is an important part of cultivating educated and socially responsible citizens.

A Facebook User

Upon reviewing the reading by Schrag, one thing that was brought to my attention immediately was the comparison to Venus and Earth. Schrag talks about how if Earth was similar to Venus in that it was dry, it would be far easier to predict the affects of humans on the earth. He discusses how water plays a large factor in emissions and their absorption. Earlier in the article he says that while 60% of CO2 emissions stay in the atmosphere and 20% are consumed by terrestrial ecosystems, 20% of CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean. While it may not be a shock to many, I found this statistic to be very interesting. I was not aware of the large portion of emission that are absorbed by the water on earth. Although he states that this is not a solution for the short term, when discussing possible solutions for CO2 emissions, Schrag states that reducing such emissions to the point where they are below the level consumed by the ocean and the biosphere could be a potential solution down the road. While this may not come as a surprise to most people, I am surprised by the large portion of CO2 that is absorbed by the planet itself, and not simply discharged into the atmosphere.

Alice Chen

After reading both articles, I felt the same sense of dread that I experienced after our most recent class on climate change. Also noting that the Harvard article was written in 2006 and Schrag's article was published in 2007, it's a little disheartening to see that despite all these warnings, we have continued to burn more coal. I definitely agree with Schrag that we need both adaptation and mitigation strategies and from what we've been talking about in class, adaptation strategies are really overtaking mitigation strategies at the current moment. In fact, it reminds me of when I lived in the Netherlands, where dikes, levees, man-made sand dunes and other technological advancements were adopted to prevent the entire country from going under. While the Dutch are praised for their technological innovations, I think that at some point they will not be able to protect themselves against the rise in sea-levels. Thus, these adaptation methods are not useful for the long-term unless we want enter the never-ending cycle of adaptation until we can't keep up.
It also seems pretty difficult for countries to want to mitigate their carbon emissions. Alternative sources of energy can be expensive and scary to many people. While many countries are trying to reduce their carbon emissions, many developing countries are still increasing emissions because it is the cheapest method to produce energy and grow their economy. Then the question goes to, should we subsidize alternative methods of clean energy in these developing countries? And, would these subsidies even make an impact given the current state of our carbon emissions?

Valerie Sokolow

I thought that the solutions for rising CO2 presented in the Harvard magazine were very interesting and I had not considered many of them. The one that stood out the most was injecting CO2 deep into the ocean. I did not even know that this was possible, let alone helpful when considering the amounts of CO2 in the world. I wonder, if this solution were to be implemented, would it act as more of a mitigation or reset? Would it be used to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at the same rate that it is put in to balance it down and make sure levels are not increasing or would it be used along with abatement to decrease carbon dioxide in the atmosphere overall? Overall, though, I tend to think of these readings as somewhat depressing, especially when I consider the publication date. Clearly, we have options and the technology to pursue these options. The fact that we haven’t already done so just makes the introductions to these problems more overwhelming because there’s kind of a precedent set that nothing will be done. What would it take for these solutions to be pursued on a large scale and for the world to finally address these issues in a real way?

Jack Lewis

I especially enjoyed reading Shrag's article as it served as a huge wake-up call. Figure 2 was a great representation of what's been going on with the atmospheric CO2. It's crazy to think that nowadays the red line should be even higher since we are at around 415 ppm for CO2. I also thought figure 4 was mind-opening representation of the southeastern US if half of the Greenland ice sheet melted. As Shrag discusses in the article, it is clear that we need to expand non-fossil energy systems. This is a classic representation of substitution due to there being large negative externalities from fossil fuels. Shrag discusses how wind power is that it is the most economical and efficient. I think if we as a society and if authorities in our country fully commit to using renewable energy resources such as wind, water, solar, nuclear, biomass, and geothermal, the initial costs of implementation would become outweighed by the benefits realized in the future. Lastly, I like Shrag's realization that these debates over energy and CO2 emissions will not be hypothetical or just "talked about" for long. Sooner or later, major mitigation movements will need to take place.

Mohammed R Mourtaja

Comment about the IPCC report:
One of the things that I liked about this report is how it reminds us that climate change is highly dependent on what we do as humans in political and economic reforms. What is so interesting about this report is that it mentions how inequality and demographic shifts play a big role in causing climate change, and not fixing those problems is just going to make it worse.
In addition, even though we might reach an intermediate greenhouse emissions scenario, we are still going to exceed 1.5 C. Moreover, there is at least a greater than 50% likelihood that global warming will reach or exceed 1.5°C in the near‐term, even for the very low greenhouse gas emissions scenario.
This is really scary because it shows how much behind we are and how quick and fast we have to act in order to be able to survive this catastrophe. I also relate this to the last graph of this report where we see that if we do not make the right choices by 2027, there is no way to reach the high Climate Resilient development and if we do not act by 2030, we will not even reach the medium level. Prof. Jim told us that the last real legislation for climate change in the US around 2002/2004, this was twenty years ago. So, Imagine this: If we do not act boldly in less than half of this 20-year old period, we will never reach half of the CRD.
Impacts of climate change will also be enormous. Heat-related human mortality, more wildfires, rise is sea levels, and more. Africa, Europe, North America, central and south America, and the Mediterranean region are the most impacted by climate change. However, there are still a lot of things that have not been examined because of insufficient data, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Overall, however, mostly all ecosystems and human systems will hugely be impacted by climate change. One impact I saw, and I think is already happening because of climate change: Displacement. This issue as I imagine it would be the most catastrophic because people from countries affected the most, the majority from poor countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, would travel to countries that are safer like Europe and America. The problem is that we already see big refusal for this immigration right now, which would be nothing compared to climate refugees. So, this would be a huge moral question for the developed countries them: Should they save those innocent people or keep the resources for themselves? What is interesting to think about is that those developed countries are the ones responsible for most of the greenhouse emissions, so why would not they act now not for the sake of humanity, but also because they would be in a huge problem if they don’t.
There is more that could be discussed from the report. I think those reports should be shared and publicized more because they show the real damage of climate change, and it is the most existential threat we face as human beings.

Hayden Roberts

Schrag’s paper on confronting the climate-energy challenge reveals an alarming picture for future atmospheric temperature levels. The science shows that there will be an unavoidable rise in atmospheric CO2 even if drastic changes are made. This rise has already begun as shown by figures 1 and 2. Schrag mentions that investing more in other forms of energy like nuclear or wind power could help slow down this rise and stabilize CO2 levels at a level much higher level than even today. From my view, even this attempt to slow down CO2 will not be enough. I recently attended a talk from a geology alum who explained that even with the transition away from fossil fuels, petroleum use will continue to rise to match the increasing demand for energy. In this case, CO2 levels will continue to rise even if renewables overtake petroleum. The only good news is that the current oil prices are almost at record high levels. If these prices persist, then a greater push to switch away from petroleum could occur.

Trip Wright

The "Fueling Our Future" article was loaded with key information about the climate crisis at stake and informed about the stark reality at play and the "best" options we have at our disposal. I appreciated the introductory discussion about nuclear energy because, too often, I hear that form of energy being thrown around as if it is the solution to "save us all" from Earth's widespread climate problem but rather has yet to be implemented widescale. I asked myself "Why is this?" and learned that the current hesitancy with nuclear energy is the risks at play. Shaw points out that Chernobyl acted as a pause on shifting to nuclear energy because that accident occurred with only a few hundred reactors in the world. In reality, roughly 10,000 nuclear reactors would be desired to address climate change; this was an interesting metric. Shaw is blunt in his writing and thoughts on climate change. He does not write about reversing all of our CO2 outputs and putting a cease to energy consumption because that just is not logical or our reality. I appreciated his focus on CO2 parts per million (ppm), which sees a level today around 380-400ppm. The unfortunate reality is that we are going to continue to increase the number of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, at least in the short run. Shaw is confident that before 2050, ppm levels will cross 500. His response comes in the form of a challenge, to keep concentrations of CO2 below 550ppm by 2100. That gives us 78 years to change/modify/adapt our methods of energy production and the waste that is produced as a result. The solution to reaching this goal is not an easy one, but ideas exist. One that really shocked me was that we must embrace the use of coal…seriously! I have known that coal is the "dirtiest" source of energy due to its large production of carbon emissions, much more so than natural gas or oil. The focus on coal as our next big source of energy is that the current known global reserves will last 164 years: enough time to disrupt the current energy production process. Additionally, with global populations rising and countries becoming increasingly more developed, our demand and dependence on energy will only increase. The solution, proposed by Shaw, can be attributed to the properties of CO2 that make it denser than seawater under high pressure and low temperature. So, here we are combining Economics with Chemistry to generate a potential answer to mitigating climate change on Earth: emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of climate change and how many niches of academia ought to be involved to prevent its costly effects. Nevertheless, CO2 will not be released into the atmosphere from the burning of coal, but rather captured, then pumped underground to a location with such conditions mentioned prior. As Shaw reports, "the CO2 would form an ice-like-cap over a spreading liquid plume and eventually dissolve, diffusing slowly into the oceans over millions of years at a rate that would not affect marine ecology." I was so motivated by this proposition, feeling as though we had finally found the answer to a problem that has been stagnant for too long. Then, I remember this article is going on sixteen years old…yikes. Unfortunately, despite all the favorable science and plausibility, our governments have yet to act mainly due to the three I's: ideology, interests, and ignorance. The clock on climate change is ticking, however, intellect is not. I see education of the general populous as the catalyst to begin climate action. I had no idea that we could feasibly pump CO2 emissions underwater, into seafloor sediment, and then it is stifled from polluting the air. The key is to muster the will to act, as Schrag put it, and I remain optimistic in my generation to do just that.

Isabel Lourie

I appreciated the synergy between the two articles, which seemed to draw from largely similar fountains of background information within a certain temporal context of discovery. This makes sense, given that both were published within a year of one another. A substantial amount of word space was devoted to proving the existence of the Anthropocene. As someone who has opted into discussion and study of climate change, my circles of discussion may be biased, but my impression is that the "climate has always been cyclical" argument is no longer widely made. I remember arguing with friends in middle school over this, but 15 years later, it seems that we may have at least come as far as collectively identifying emissions-related climate change as a real and urgent problem. Given the extent of adaptation and mitigation action required for even an optimistic climate outlook, it is clear we are still behind in terms of sociopolitical readiness, but it is food to see that some things have changed in the 15 years since these articles were published.

I can't say reading this is not stressful. While Schrag seems doubtful that nuclear power can be safely expanded in a meaningful way as a fossil fuel replacement, Shaw brings in the opinion of a government and international affairs expert to assert that the need to fulfill energy demands may outweigh the tremendous risks involved in rapid nuclear proliferation. According to the World Nuclear Association (https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-power-in-the-world-today.aspx), there is actually one less operable nuclear plants than there were in 2007. I am excited about the prospects of developing the Fischer-Tropsch process for biomass conversion, or coal gasification. Their existence and potential really mean very little when it comes to implementation. Without international cooperation (much less cooperation within the United States), the cheaper option may continue to be used until it is exhausted. Chine continues to burn coal in traditional plants. The articles cite dense pupulation as part of the problem for countries like China, but they fail to mention the process by which American and other "developed" western consumption drives production practices across the globe.

These readings confirm that "Ecological changes due to climate change that has already occurred will continue to unfold for decades." If we halted atmospheric carbon growth right now, the existing damage could be enough to finish off melting glaciers. SO many interacting systems create feedback loops to multiply the sheer volume of CO2 emissions. Our moderate progress towards energy efficiency doesn't resemble the rate needed to barely curb the most disastrous of effects.

15 years later, have we really mustered the will to act?

Grace A Stricklin

Shaw ends his “Fueling Our Future” article with a quote from Daniel Schrag, a professor of earth and planetary sciences whose research is cited throughout the article, in which he says that a goal of 550ppm of CO2 emissions may be the best we can do but “it is still a disaster”. This is a rather bleak statement which does not leave one with much hope even after reading an article which has many ideas for possible solutions. Unfortunately, Shaw noted earlier in the article that the most feasible way to slow down climate change and decrease CO2 emissions is to use some of our coal. The United States, China, and India all have a significant amount of coal, but none of these countries have carbon emission laws to go along with this new power source. If these countries did decide to decrease their emissions despite the lack of a law telling them to do so, they will have to process their coal differently than the old way so as to capture and subsequently sequester the CO2 created during the process. So, even though this is the most realistic solution, it would still be very costly and would require the U.S., China, and India to rapidly shift their emissions policies and overall views about global warming. Thus, I believe that Schrag’s bleak outlook is rather justified, the potential solutions we do have are not likely to be implemented in time to be as helpful as would be ideal and, even if they are implemented in a timely manner, our planet will still be too warm.

Camryn Bostick

While reading Schrag's article, I found it very interesting that there was a potential solution offered. In many articles about climate change and the need for more proactive environmental regulations, it purely describes the harm that is being caused, but in this one it also describes the different types of resources that could be used to reduce pollution. While many people believe that making changes to environmental regulation will be impossible because of the changes needed for society to make in their own lives. In Schrag's article he states that reducing CO2 by reducing energy consumption does not necessarily require you to make economic changes in energy usage. Technological achievements and developments can make it more possible to universally reduce energy usage. For example, the conversion from gas cars to electric cars has been a gradual but promising change in energy use. More car manufacturers are offering electric models to fit in with the on-going "trend", which will benefit the environment if it continuously spreads throughout the industry. Similar developments in more environmentally-conscious energy use can revolutionize reduction of carbon emissions.

Matthew Todd

While reading the articles I found myself interested in the idea of breaking up positive environmental change into "wedges"- ways that this could be done in smaller increments as opposed to one catch-all solution. While I hope that many of the solutions offered in the articles could prove to be feasible down the road, there is one that I feel is especially pertinent in the coming years.

Cars are among the worst assets to buy, due to the rate at which they depreciate. This, coupled with environmental concerns that come with gas consumption, the negative impact of emissions on the highways on those leaving nearby, and even the high environmental cost of creating new EVs makes cars a large environmental issue to consider. However, robotaxis should fix/mitigate many of these issues. Estimated to operate at consumer costs of around 10-20 cents a mile, the robotaxi is more economical than driving when you factor in both the physical costs associated with driving around a car that depreciates with more mileage and has costs associated with its fuel- but it also saves the passenger time that they can spend on work/leisure while not having to devote attention to operating vehicles. I'm curious to see how technological advancements in the coming years can serve to either intentionally or unintentionally help make positive changes to reduce energy usage. While I tend to believe that change through foreign policy will be extremely difficult, I feel that technology offers a more optimistic view into better energy usage, so long as we can find creative ways to align market efficiency with energy efficiency.

Merritt McCaleb

While I appreciated both articles, I found that Jonathan Shaw’s “Fueling Our Future” particularly interested me. Professor Schrag’s expertise in the environmental field piqued my curiosity, and Shaw’s way of writing about such scary issues was riveting. For example, in the very first paragraph of the article, Shaw writes, “even forecasts of…rising sea levels worldwide that will someday drown major cities have thus far failed to mobilize public action in the United States.” This phrase made me think of when we were discussing whether it’s better or worse to frame environmental issues in a negative or positive light. The phrase above paints global warming in a pessimistic way that most likely overwhelms many people, even paralyzing them. After all, the thought of major cities being wiped out due to high sea levels is an image I doubt anyone wants to picture – it’s horrifying. The concept of global warming and climate change isn’t hard to grasp, but when trying to think of solutions, many people become paralyzed and therefore, little action to alleviate risks occurs. As we discussed in class, people definitely need to understand the scope and extent to which climate change occurs, but if we do so in a more optimistic and hopeful manner, then perhaps we will be more likely to act quickly. Furthermore, I found the information offered on known global reserves to be deeply unsettling. Schrag says that, based on consumption in 2006, “known global reserves of will last 41 years.” This article was written in 2006, so 41 years from that would be in 2047. That is 25 years from now….Finally, toward the end of the article, Schrag says, “the only thing missing…is the will to act.” How terrifying – it truly is haunting thinking about how we’re fully capable of avoiding environmental catastrophes, but that we might fail to do so simply because of our failure to act in a timely manner.

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