Thursday, December 22, 2011

Slashing California Greenhouse Gas Emissions

When talks of combating or mitigating anthropogenic climate change come up, the inevitable “well,even if it exists, how can we act without crippling our industries” question or statement comes up. It may sound pessimistic, but it’s a vital question that must be answered. Humanity has been pumping out massive amounts of greenhouse gases for the past 150 years, and we need to lower our output significantly by 2050 or so in order to make the impacts of climate change less severe. But given how inefficient and dirty the current global energy infrastructure is, people often ask, rightfully so, whether or not it’s unreasonable to expect massive carbon emissions cuts within the next 40 to 50 years.

Even thinking on the small scale, such as reducing emissions in California-a giant state in and of itself-may seem impossible at first. But, according to a team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the San Francisco-based energy consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics, it is.

Distilling the article, the three main ways that California can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 are as follows: the primary method will be energy efficiency (“The scientists found that the largest share of greenhouse gas reductions from energy efficiency comes from the building sector via improvements in building shell, HVAC systems, lighting, and appliances.”), the next two methods will be cleaner power generation (“Another 27 percent reduction in emissions comes from switching to electricity generation technologies that don't pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Renewable energy, nuclear power, and fossil fuel-powered generation coupled with carbon capture and storage technology each has the potential to be the chief electricity resource in California. “) and going from gas to electric for many items (“So they turned to cars, space and water heaters, and industrial processes that consume fuel and natural gas. They determined that most of these technologies had to be electrified, with electricity constituting 55 percent of end-use energy in 2050, compared to 15 percent today. Overall, this nets a 16-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the final push needed to achieve an 80-percent reduction below 1990 levels.”).

The article is linked in full here: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-11-how-to-slashing-california-greenhouse-gas.html

1 comment:

  1. Hello from University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK!!
    This is Lilian. Do you remember me? as I am far away now, it seems like ages since I connected with you guys. How are you doing? Apoorva, is my hunch true? Are you considering Caltech??
    I just got a message that your blog was updated and I checked it out. Going local now?? Sounds great. I am soooo proud of you.
    Though I came here because my parents forced me to, I am loving it here. Good luck with your project work. Happy Holidays. As my parents are here, I am not visiting US this time. Let us see, when I will be able to meet you both.