Technology too inadequate to mitigate climate change effect

March 20th, 2012 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 20 (IANS) Scientists and planners taking the help of technology to mitigate the effects of climate change may find it too inadequate to help, warns an expert.

Richard York, professor of sociologist at the University of Oregon, argues that technology alone won’t help the world turn away from fossil fuel-based energy source. It requires a paradigm shift in political and economic policies to recognise that continued growth in energy consumption is unsustainable.

Many nations, including the US, are actively pursuing technological advances to reduce the use of fossil fuels to potentially mitigate human contributions to climate-change, the journal Nature Climate Change reports.

Based on a four-model study of electricity used in some 130 countries over the past 50 years, York found that it took more that 10 units of power produced from non-fossil sources — nuclear, hydropower, geothermal, wind, biomass and solar — to displace a single unit of fossil fuel-generated electricity, according to an Oregon statement.

Besides, the approach of the International Panel on Climate Change assumes alternative energy sources — nuclear, wind and hydro — will equally displace fossil fuel consumption. This approach, York argues, ignores “the complexity of human behaviour”.

“When you see growth in nuclear power, for example, it doesn’t seem to affect the rate of growth of fossil fuel-generated power very much,” said York.

He also presented two models on total energy use. “When we looked at total energy consumption, we found a little more displacement, but still, at best, it took four to five units of non-fossil fuel energy to displace one unit produced with fossil fuel.”

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