Introduction

The Energy Story

  Energy Is Born
  Energy Types
  Energy Changes
  Energy Generation

The Energy Problem

  Conservation of Energy
  Aging of Energy
  Finite Resources
  The Oil "Crisis"
  Energy Pollution
  Discussion Topics

The Energy Solution

  Conserving Electricity
  Appliance Efficiency
  Heating Conservation
  Renewable Energy

Web Links

Teacher Guide

About the Author


Secret Lives Title - The Energy Problem


Topic

TOPIC QUESTION: Should our country legislate reductions on carbon dioxide emissions in power plants to avert global warming?



Introduction


bar chart of tons of carbon output by country
CBS Newsletter - Summer 1997 - pg 6
Schipper L. Ting M, Khrushch M, Golove W. 1997.
"The evolution of carhon dioxide emissions from energy use in
industrialized countries: and end use analysis." Energy Policy 25(7/9):651-72.

The above graph shows the quantity of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere per capita for the major industrialized countries. Per capita means the amount for each person living in that country. Notice that the amount for the USA is almost twice as much as for any of the other countries.


During the 1990s, the world became aware of the problem of global warming, and that the emission of carbon dioxide gas (along with several others) was causing the problem. During this time there were a number of meetings of the nations of the world to debate this problem and possible solutions. A number of agreements to limit the emission of carbon dioxide gas were signed by many countries of the world. One of the most famous negotiations occurred in Kyoto, Japan, at the World Conference on Climate Change. An agreement know as the Kyoto-Protocol was hammered out, with at least 37 countries signing this agreement to limit global warming or greenhouse gases. United States president George W. Bush has stated that the United Sates will not sign the Kyoto-Protocol, fearing that the costs to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will hurt the United States' economy. As the present time the United States, which is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, seems to have little interest in even talking about an agreement.


Some Pros and Cons
Pros
Cons
The reduction of carbon dioxide is crucial in order to avoid a possible world wide catastrophe of rising temperatures, rising tides, and severe weather changes. The connection between carbon dioxide and global warming has not been proven. More research is required to be sure that there really is a problem.
The technology to reduce carbon dioxide is available.
The technology to reduce carbon dioxide needs several more years of research and development.
The costs of reducing carbon dioxide is affordable and as the technology is tested and refined, these costs will decline.
The costs of reducing carbon dioxide are prohibitive and would not only drive up energy costs, but potentially put many energy utilities out of business.