BRC 7: No Magic Bullets

From the UK’s Guardian via ClimateArk, an overview of US “techno-optimism.” Writer Paul Brown notes that looking for the “magic bullet” for energy issues may not necessarily be a refuge for scoundrels, but it’s a refuge nonetheless:

But a techno-fix for global warming has always been the refuge of those who hope that lifestyles will not have to change. The US has always believed that there would be some kind of magic bullet, such as cold fusion or some other theoretically plausible but unlikely method of producing electricity, or perhaps hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels.

The G8 countries are investing in many technologies that are already producing carbon-free power or are in advanced stages of development. Some will make a huge difference – and many of them are already in operation in Britain, such as wind and solar power and gas from landfill sites. In countries with hot rocks, geothermal power stations have long been established and many more are being developed. Bio-fuels for vehicles made from sugar, oilseed rape and other cereals are also in use.

Alongside energy efficiency measures, these are the new power sources the countries that have signed up to the Kyoto protocol are relying on to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 2012, when all should have reached legally binding targets.

We’ve got the technology to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. This reduction may not be huge, given the growth in energy demand in the US and worldwide, but shouldn’t we at least push these technologies onto the market a little more forcefully? I said above that waiting for a magic bullet isn’t necessarily the action of a scoundrel, but promoting theoretical fixes while ignoring current solutions certainly seems like it is…

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