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Confronting climate change.

No quick fix' seen for reducing greenhouse gases and the threat of global climate change

There are no quick and easy ways to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States by the year 2050, according to a recent committee report by the National Research Council.

The report, requested by the U.S. Congress in response to recent increased concern over global climate change due to gases that result from energy production and consumption, recommends shifting R&D priorities to energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy sources.

The committee says research should focus on achieving high levels of energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, and electricity generation; increasing recycling of materials; gaining better understanding of bio-mass, solar, and other technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases; and developing improved technologies for electrical storage and transmission.

The committee recommends allocating more money to programs on conservation and renewables and obtaining the money by refocusing R&D priorities away from magnetic-fusion and fossil-energy programs. The committee also recommends redirecting efforts toward high efficiencies in converting clean coal to electricity.

Other actions recommended:

* Conduct an international study to establish criteria for globally acceptable nuclear reactors.

* Accelerate R&D to increase efficiency and reduce costs of photovoltaic systems.

* Create markets for recycled materials in the manufacture of high-quality products.

The study does not explore the linkage between increased greenhouse-gas emissions and the threat of global warming, but it does contend that, while the United States produces one-fourth of the world's emissions, a reduction in gases emitted in the United States may not significantly affect the world's climate change. Thus, the committee stresses international cooperation and communication of the energy R&D strategies. Source: Confronting Climate Change: Strategies for Energy Research and Development, National Research Council. 1990. 127 pages. Paperback. $17.95. Available from the National Academy Press, 21 01 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418.

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Publication:The Futurist
Article Type:column
Date:May 1, 1991
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