Science Magazine Ignores Half the Solution

Energy efficiency, energy efficiency, energy efficiency — is it really so hard to remember that solving global warming will require dealing with energy supply AND demand?

Science magazine just published an article titled “A Roadmap to US decarbonization” with the summary: “Alternative energy sources could replace 70% of fossil fuels in America within 30 years at a cost of $200 billion per year” (Subs. Req’d for full article).

But the analysis looks only at clean energy supply options (such as solar and nuclear), which are inevitably more expensive than fossil fuels like coal. It ignores entirely energy-efficient technologies that can pay for their extra cost–in part or in whole–through reduced energy bills.

Yet just eight years ago, Science published a similarly-titled article (that I co-authored), “A Road Map for U.S. Carbon Reductions,” that looked at both supply and demand solutions. We found very significant energy-efficiency opportunities that kept total cost far lower than simply pursuing supply-side options. Our analysis was based on a major study by five national laboratories, which concluded that an aggressive set of policies could achieve significant carbon reductions without raising the nation’s total energy bill.

Science is a terrific publication, especially on global warming, with news coverage that wastes far less valuable ink presenting the long-discredited views of the global warming Deniers and Delayers than the popular press. But articles like this generate headlines in newspapers like, “Plan to Escape Warming Comes With a Hefty Tab,” which serve only to confuse the real debate we need to have.

2 Responses to Science Magazine Ignores Half the Solution

  1. […] The article is important and well worth reading in its entirety. Unlike many articles on this subject, it does not neglect the critical area of energy efficiency, and cites recent work by John Holdren, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: The most immediate gains could come simply by increasing energy efficiency. If efficiency gains in transportation, buildings, power transmission and other areas were doubled from the longstanding rate of 1 percent per year to 2 percent … that could hold the amount of new nonpolluting energy required by 2100 to the amount derived from fossil fuels in 2000 –a huge challenge, but not impossible. […]

  2. […] one of the central strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Until recent, the subject has not been exciting enough to get the kind of media attention that alternative energy generation techn…. But because of the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we all will ultimately have to […]