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The cover story on global warming remedies raises some difficult questions. Developing nations need cheap energy to develop and help their citizens to rise out of poverty. How can we coordinate a civilization-wide effort to reduce CO2 emissions to their economic disadvantage when we can't get our rich neighbors down the street to trade in their Porsches for Hybrids and recycle?
The economics of energy is working against us. Energy derived from fuels that emit greenhouse gasses in to the atmosphere is cheaper than clean energy, and as long as that is true, individuals, industries, and governments will act in their short-term interest to the detriment of the planet. There are occasional exemplary individuals, corporations, and governments who act for the greater good, but the sum of their impact is negligible. Not until it is financially beneficial for the majority of us to use clean energy may the problem begin to resolve. We can only achieve this result through technology and innovation over time.
There is a window of opportunity to solve the problem of climate change, but no consensus as to how long we have before global warming is irreversible. In addition to the recommendations outlined in the story above, there are some obvious short-term measures our government could take to extend the window of opportunity while we pour resources into research and development. We could drop tariffs on cheap ethanol produced from sugar cane in South America, raise gasoline taxes to curb consumption, and sign the Kyoto Treaty to mention a few. However, we still lack consensus and the political will to act.
I'll be more optimistic when my neighbor's Porsche can go 80 mph without emitting greenhouse gases.
–Burton Roberts (HS'74, TPR'89)
This was a very interesting article about global warming. I have always liked the technical writings better than the rambling conjecture that we usually get on this subject. But all I ever hear is that it is the CO2 that's the problem, whereas the article clearly states that we also get too much sunshine energy staying on the Earth.
Wouldn't it help resolve the global warming if we could change the reflectivity of the Earth's surface to reflect MORE of the sunshine back into space rather than having it absorbed?
I would like to see the investigation of this some day.
–Don Schwartz (CIT'72)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Not long after our feature story on Granger Morgan appeared, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. (There was no confirmation that the voting was swayed by last issue's cover story.) Morgan, head of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Engineering and Public Policy, was one of 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 12 countries named to the academy, which has approximately 2,000 members and 350 foreign associates, of whom more than 200 have won Nobel Prizes.
I thoroughly enjoy each issue of Carnegie Mellon Today and think it is just a perfect way to keep us old alums connected to our alma mater.
–Robert Gariano (A'71)
Lake Forest, Ill.
This is great reading.