Monday, February 18, 2013

Changing perspectives on climate change

Monday, February 18, 2013
For most of his career, my art teacher had written the letters "POV" on the ceiling of the classroom middle school. From time to time would be confused eleven-year lasting about the meaning behind the acronym overhead to inquire. Yes, "he would answer," that depends on your point of view.

So it is with climate change. Numerical evidence we listen every day with our growing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) apart should compel us. We have long enough studied the problem to announce with confidence: blame the oil companies. China's growth will kill the planet; Coal is the enemy. The data are clear, and the answers are in front of us, so why waste time on what we already know?

Because while the oil companies, China and our perspectives of the problem of coal, which all contribute to a warming climate are often rather limited. That has, committed by us, climate change tends to be solidified in what we believe are the solutions. We are so passionate about ensuring that wind turbines remain economically competitive or end construction of coal fired power plants, for example, we tend the to forget these efforts are only a means to an end. A look at some popular statistics about helps US emissions, show how the change our view of the problem which can transform the possibilities, what we think solutions.

In 2010, the United States to spend 6822 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (CO2-e), a standard were metric used to quantify greenhouse gases responsible. One of the most common ways to present a breakdown of the emissions is responsible according to the sectors of the economy, for it: on the basis of the above pie chart, we see that the electrical power engineering 34% of our total emissions in 2010, followed by the transportation sector in 27% contributed. Put together these two more than 60% of total emissions, numbers that would have us believe, that we have not received, in dealing with climate change, if we double our commitments to the solar panels and electric cars. These technologies are, although important however reject the chart the effects of emissions from residential, commercial and other sectors. Present the same data from a different angle, shows the following diagram of additional lever for change.

While an important source of greenhouse gas emissions is electricity generation, its emissions are from our homes and businesses due to demand. Another way to consider our emissions is through the inclusion of emissions from power generation in areas where electricity is used. Seen from this perspective, we can see that the residential and commercial sectors contribute serving 40% - the largest single, we've seen so far. Sure, renewable energy our emissions would be represented no matter how the data, but this perspective emphasizes the importance of energy efficiency at home and in the workplace. Suddenly, stricter building codes and energy-saving devices like no brainers, a conclusion seem absent from the first chart. And the importance of remaining consciously the boundaries of our point of view not to the end throw a look at the next picture and check how it provides yet a different approach.

This chart clearly stresses the need, oil rise, but provide insight, as we type, could do while the other two are forcing us some ways we consider these fuels use. And if you take the three charts together, you can draw many of the same conclusions, an indication of its robustness. For example, the reality can avoid no reasonable dataset that our dependence on oil and coal is the main reason for our growing emissions.

As a last example how the same numbers can be interpreted as different consult the EPA GHG reporting program that collects data on all facilities emitting greenhouse gases in the United States, such as power plants and refineries. In 2010, only 5% of facilities for 60% of total emissions were responsible. This program only accounts for stationary sources such as power plants and refineries, but the massive skew distribution suggests that the most effective strategy in fact rather policy could develop the few major emitters as a target to reduce emissions as a wider ceiling. In the absence of federal legislation, the EPA seems (deferred) plans to limit emissions from the largest plants agree.

We must be vigilant in our own assumptions. Is the core of the problem of our dependence on oil? Inefficient homes? Coal fired power plants? The answer to each is of course "Yes;" therefore our challenge lies not in to determine which approach is right, but rather, as we the lessons from different perspectives more effectively can combine advocates for change.

The Verdict: some realities about greenhouse gases are inevitable. Offers a range of technologies and guidelines serious potential to reduce our emissions, and we need to pull it all into consideration. But we are their full benefit only reap, if we can avoid anchoring, when you realize that different vantage points offer varied yet valid insight into the complex challenge of the fight against climate change. Taking care not to be limited by the close of a single perspective we guarantee a real chance at a meaningful changes.

Jordan Garfinkle is the founder of, a resource for anyone, the fact-based assessments of technological and political solutions to environmental problems.

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