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March 21 News: NAS Report Says Silver Buckshot Needed To Adequately Reduce GhG Emissions

By Ryan Koronowski on March 21, 2013 at 9:30 am

"March 21 News: NAS Report Says Silver Buckshot Needed To Adequately Reduce GhG Emissions"

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A new report from the National Academy of Sciences showing how the U.S. can cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 80 percent by 2050. Unsurprisingly, this will take more than just one single policy or technology. [Washington Post]

Case in point: In the past few years, the Obama administration has enacted a series of ambitious corporate average fuel economy standards that will require new cars to get around 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. (That will translate into about 35.4 miles per gallon on the road.) That sounds impressive, but the NAS study concludes that current standards aren’t enough to hit even that 2030 goal for oil use.

In fact, the report argues, it’s tough to find any single technology that can cut oil use in half by 2030 on its own. Making conventional cars more efficient won’t do it. A major push on electric vehicles won’t do it. The only things likely to work are a massive switch over to natural-gas vehicles (which would, in turn, make it much harder to hit the greenhouse-gas goals) or a combination of efficiency, electric vehicles, and advanced biofuels.

The Water Resources Development Act will come to the Senate floor as soon as April, which could contain strengthened coastal infrastructure to to minimize damages from extreme weather events. [The Hill]

The Alaska Senate decided to cut taxes for oil companies, sending the bill to the state House. [Alaska Dispatch]

Energy Secretary nominee Ernest Moniz continues to draw attention for his industry ties. [ProPublica]

New research reveals that nearly all books about climate denial are funded by conservative think tanks. [DeSmogBlog]

Receding Arctic sea ice is leaving polar bears less time to eat. [Christian Science Monitor]

Would a “tiny carbon tax” shift behavior, reduce emissions, or raise revenue? Probably not. [Bloomberg]

The U.S. Midwest and Great Plains will need above-average rainfall to recover from last year’s drought. [Businessweek]

In case you missed it: LED bulbs are cheaper, last longer, can be any color, are dimmable, can turn on instantly, and use much less electricity to light your home. [New York Times]

Elementary school students in a North Carolina classroom blew past their Kickstarter goal to make their classroom 100 percent solar powered. [Cleantechnica]

Harrison Ford makes the case that conservation is important because “nature doesn’t need people — people need nature.” [BBC]

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14 Responses to March 21 News: NAS Report Says Silver Buckshot Needed To Adequately Reduce GhG Emissions

  1. fj says:

    US can cut human transport emissions by 80% by 2020 if transitions to net zero transportation and transit.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    The Post is suggesting “advanced biofuels” as a possible solution. This has about the same meaning as “clean coal”.

    Biofuels are the brainchild of malevolent alliances between companies like Monsanto and Georgia Pacific. Dead plants need to be returned to the soil, allowing nutrient replenishment. Removing biomass and replacing it with fertilizer and petroleum based nutrients is a doomed effort on a finite planet.

    The quantity of plant matter required to produce adequate fuels is staggering, and would impoverish ag land and ecosystems. As with corn, which is as bad as oil, the effort would also be quite GHG intensive.

    • M Tucker says:

      I agree Mike. My feeling is all these biofuels, including algae, are just a way to grab a little market share from big oil. They always claim the result will be carbon neutral but none are ready to go live so these claims cannot be tested. They all require government handouts, just like big oil, and the result will be burned just like oil fuels. When you look at the enormous volume of gasoline and diesel that is produced each day in the US it seems like an impossible dream that any of these will be able to substitute for petroleum fuels. I think electric has the only chance of substituting for gasoline but the development has been painfully slow. I don’t think electric will ever work for long-haul trucks though. What we really need is something completely different. A new paradigm.

      • I agree, and well said. There is another alternative: scrubbing tailpipe emissions of soot, NO, and CO2 and then cracking (reducing by electrolysis) the NO and CO2. Preferably as part of a dynamic muffler for noise reduction and power harvesting from the waste heat out the exhaust.

    • Corn ethanol produces 50% of the GHG as gasoline. If you run the distillers on solar rather than natural gas or coal, the GHG total is about 70% less than gasoline. If you run the farm equipment on EV or ethanol feedstock, then the GHG contribution is around 90% lower.

      Corn ethanol is not a great source of energy. But it’s certainly better than oil.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Excellent points. Robbing the soil of nutriment means devastating soil flora and fauna (as does glyphosate and other toxins) thereby sterilising the soil. Once again the business greedheads and their Rightwing enablers are either mad or deeply, deeply, malevolent. Or both, of course.

      • J4zonian says:

        Yes, Mulga

        It’s hard to understand exactly what the problem is but whether insane, stupid or lying, on the surface, it’s clear they are all 3. You can’t lie about the impending deaths of billions without denying, being insane, and being criminally, intentionally, militantly ignorant all at once. Whatever their real thoughts, emotions and motives, on the surface they appear to be oblivious to the direness of our situation and stubbornly continue to come up with goals that are woefully inadequate to save us and means that are woefully inadequate even to meet those pitiful–or monstrously evil–goals.

        Besides the necessary massive changes in the way we live, revolution is all that’s left. I hope to God it’s peaceful, at least on our side, but the longer we wait, the less chance there is of that. There’s virtually no chance, of course, that it will be peaceful on their side. We have to do what’s needed anyway.

  3. Sasparilla says:

    “Energy Secretary nominee Ernest Moniz continues to draw attention for his industry ties. ”

    What ay, ah, surprise….have a feeling he’s going to make Chu look like a saint in comparison.

    From the article (obviously industry got someone who’s more to their liking):

    “His connections to the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries threaten to undermine the focus we need to see on renewables and energy efficiency,”

  4. rollin says:

    Privately owned vehicles in the US produce 330 million metric tons of CO2 per year. Fossil fuel and concrete manufacture produce 33.4 billion metric tons of CO2 per year worldwide. So US cars produce about 1 percent of global fossil fuel CO2 pollution. If we cut US CO2 vehicle output by 50% then we cut fossil fuel CO2 by 0.5%.
    Seems like we are looking at the wrong area to cut back, politically it’s easier to nail the citizen.
    Here is another kicker, total worldwide transportation produces about 13% of greenhouse gas emissions.
    Also CO2 emissions are 57% of total greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

    The biggest source of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels is electricity production and industrial heating (26%) of total.Agriculture, industry and forestry each produce more greenhouse gases than transportation. Only waste/watewater and building heating produce less.

    • Ummm. According to the EPA transportation accounted for 27% of GHG emissions from 1990 through 2010. Transport in the US was second only to electricity generation which produced 34% of GHG emissions.

      So if the US is trying to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (the second highest in the world) it makes good sense to go aggressively after transport as well as power generation.

      Please don’t mix apples and oranges. And the post spamming is rather lame too.

  5. rollin says:

    Privately owned vehicles in the US produce 330 million metric tons of CO2 per year. Fossil fuel and concrete manufacture produce 33.4 billion metric tons of CO2 per year worldwide. So US cars produce about 1 percent of global fossil fuel CO2 pollution. If we cut US CO2 vehicle output by 50 percent then we cut fossil fuel CO2 by 0.5 percent.
    Seems like we are looking at the wrong area to cut back, politically it’s easier to nail the citizen.
    Total worldwide transportation produces about 13 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
    Also CO2 emissions are 57percent of total greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

    The biggest source of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels is electricity production and industrial heating (26 percent of total).Agriculture, industry and forestry each produce more greenhouse gases than transportation. Only waste-wastewater and building heating produce less.

  6. rollin says:

    Total worldwide transportation produces about 13 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
    Also CO2 emissions are 57percent of total greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

    The biggest source of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels is electricity production and industrial heating (26 percent of total).Agriculture, industry and forestry each produce more greenhouse gases than transportation. Only waste-wastewater and building heating produce less.

  7. Best path is to:

    First reduce electricity-based emissions by:

    1. Phasing out coal.
    2. Phasing out natural gas.
    3. Replace all with renewables (wind/solar/biomass/hydro/geothermal etc).

    Second reduce land use emissions by:

    1. Reducing meat consumption and factory livestock farming.
    2. Increasing polyculture/organics.
    3. Promote veggie/vegan lifestyle.
    4. Finding ways to reduce CO2 via concrete (different materials, new process etc).

    Third, reduce vehicle emissions by:

    1. Increasing EV penetration
    2. Increase advanced biofuels penetration.
    3. Phase out all gasoline-based autos.
    4. Shift air transport to biofuels.
    5. Increasing electrified rail transport.

    Fourth, sequester more carbon by changing land use.

    All of the above and more will likely be necessary.