There are scientists who are optimistic about the chances we have to heal the planet and reduce its warming, scientists who are definitely rejecting anything related to global warming, saying it doesn’t exist, and scientists who are butt-kickers and telling the world what works and what doesn’t. Martin Hoffert, from the University of New York, is one of the third kind, in my opinion.
“So far, efforts to curb emissions through regulation and international agreement haven’t worked,” Hoffert writes. “Emissions are rising faster than ever, and programs to scale up ‘carbon neutral’ energy sources are moving slowly at best.”
Hoffert shows why current technologies are not efficient in curbing emissions to the desired levels. He says that on the one hand, alternative energy sources such as solar and wind can’t yet compete with the others don’t have “massive market penetration”. Since they are intermittent sources of energy, huge energy storage facilities have to be instated, but the issue is that they also have huge costs. He gives Denmark and Norway as examples of countries who built such storage systems, but also says these aren’t “widely feasible in the United States, and other approaches to store power are expensive and need substantial research and testing.”
“Broad investment will be crucial to enabling basic research findings to develop into applied commercial technologies,” he also writes. “Carbon taxes and ramped-up government research budgets could help spur investments. But developing carbon-neutral technologies also requires, at the very least, reversing perverse incentives, such as existing global subsidies to fossil fuels that are estimated to be 12 times higher than those to renewable energy.”