Global warming and political structures

Huge ice shelf breaks loose in Arctic

A 41-square-mile shelf of floating ice that jutted into the Arctic Ocean for 3,000 years from Canada’s northernmost shore broke away abruptly in the summer of 2005, apparently freed by sharply warming temperatures and jostling wind and waves

This enormous piece of floating ice could presents a risk to offshore oil platforms as it drifts south.

Whether or not this, and other such events, are due entirely to human-induced global warming is irrelevant. Does it matter if the cause is human-induced, a product of long-term natural cycles, or a combination of both? The climate IS changing. Planet-wide solutions are needed.

Governments and countries that cope with this will succeed, those that ignore it or can’t cope will experience serious problems like unhappy citizens, political unrest, water and crop shortages, and migration of the populace out of the stricken areas into other areas where they may not be wanted.

Climate change affects all of us. It’s not just a green issue.

One obvious change is that electricity production based on petroleum and coal has to go. It’s way too wasteful of resources and also contributes mightily to greenhouse gases. For example, in a bizarre and wasteful system, the City of L.A. gets 50% of its power from coal produced in other states.

To ensure a reliable supply of power at consistently low rates, the Department maintains a diversified energy generation mix – including coal (50 percent), natural gas (25 percent), large hydroelectric (11 percent), nuclear (12 percent), and renewable power, such as wind, biomass, solar and cogeneration (2 percent). The Department draws its energy supply from in-basin power plants and several out-of-state facilities in Nevada, Utah and the Pacific Northwest.

Some of the power is lost during transmission on the hundreds of miles of power lines plus the coal is shipped by railroad from Appalachia. This is clearly not a sustainable or intelligent. To their credit, L.A. is moving away from this lunatic method and towards renewables. But they only plan for 20% renewables, and much more than that is needed.

For renewables to be used in a big way, it will have to be a mix – solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, etc. This means the power will become much more distributed. There will be far fewer huge plants, and lots of smaller ones. (There could also be more nuclear plants. France, for example, gets much of their power from nukes.)

Distributed power grids with lots of small generating plants may reflect the political structures that will be created as climate change continues. Political power may become more distributed and less centralized too, something which could have huge ramifications across the planet.

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