Essay: ‘Critical Thinklandia’ Climate Change Proposal
Eric Kleist, Zoraida Loza, Ricardo Diaz, Rachel Gonzalez
08 May 2016
‘Critical Thinklandia’ Climate Proposal
Climate encompasses one of the biggest components to life and all living things, it is more than just the temperature that we receive in any place; it encompasses seasons, rain, snow, humidity and even wind speed (Washington). When we see a gradual change in Earth’s weather pattern, that is what we call climate change. Not only does climate change provide us with different weather patterns it changes our natural ecosystems as well. These natural ecosystems that we rely upon to sustain our way of life are highly sensitive and a continued change in our climate is leading us towards the Earth’s sixth mass extinction (Zielinski). The high levels of carbon dioxide emissions and other fossil based fuel emissions are rapidly increasing due to an increased human population and a modernization of global economies. These fossil fuels accumulate in our atmosphere creating what is known as the greenhouse effect which has been determined to be the major leading cause of global warming. The nation of Critical Thinklandia is proposing a shift in policy which will show our commitment to reducing our fossil fuel emissions while still being able to maintain the high quality of life that our citizens are accustomed too. There were many directions that we could have taken with this policy, and each idea was analyzed for both its effectiveness, reliability, and humanitarian concerns. After this detailed analysis process, we conclude that requiring clean coal technology on our coal based emissions and extending our current tax credit program on Renewable Energy through 2030 is a required step to decrease our fossil fuel emissions without negatively impacting our citizens.
“Burning coal pollutes our environment with toxins, produces a quarter of [Critical Thinklandia]’s global warming emissions, and accounts for a whopping 80 percent of all carbon emissions produced by power generation nationwide” (Union). Even though technology is available to reduce the amount of carbon emitted by the burning of coal, companies have been slow to implement the technology due to the required upfront investment. We propose to enact a policy which requires power plants and other coal burning facilities to install approved clean coal technologies by the year 2030. Our projections show that this change in policy will be responsible for reducing our coal-based CO2 emissions 30% by the year 2030. The EIA (Energy Information Administration) estimates that coal consumption is expected to rise 0.2% by 2030 (Energy), which means without our clean coal technology initiative, we will be emitting 1528 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from coal per year. With our initiative in place we will be reducing our 2030 coal based CO2 emissions to 1070 million metric tons, which would reduce coal’s percentage share of CO2 emissions to 20.3% (with an assumption that all other fossil fuel emissions stay the same). This reduction in CO2 emissions will account for a net reduction of 6.3% in total CO2 emissions per year. All of these numbers are based off the above mentioned estimates for carbon emission reduction, and also the EIA Short term energy and summer fuels outlook (Energy). Requiring clean coal technology in our country could have other positive effects on a global net carbon reduction. The policy will force companies to invest in clean coal technology, which will increase profits for the clean coal technology companies, which means they can increase their Research and Development budget to help improve this technology further. Improved technology means a reduction in pricing for current technology which could make clean coal technology affordable for other developing countries as well which would mean an even larger reduction in coal based CO2 emissions globally. This reduction in CO2 based emissions will help slow down the rate of global warming without negatively affecting the citizens of Critical Thinklandia.
Renewable Energy (RE) refers to any energy source which can be continually harvested or attained without depleting the resource. Currently the main RE sources are wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass. These RE energy sources have been demonstrated to be the safest and cleanest sources of energy and there deployment typically means a reduction of 80-90% of fossil fuel emissions. Although RE sources significantly reduce fossil fuel emissions, the expenses associated with RE installations and energy production are much higher than energy created from non RE sources. The price for this technology makes it out of reach for most Critical Thinklandia households and businesses. Additionally, RE technology needs to be developed further to improve it’s reliability before we recommend a mandate requiring renewable energy installations. Even though we are highly optimistic about the future of RE sources in our country, we feel that a slow transition is advised so we can ensure that the deployment of RE energy sources does not negatively effect the citizens of Critical Thinklandia. Our proposed policy for RE is to extend our current tax credit program through 2030. By making a general extension through 2030, we demonstrate our nation’s continued support for renewable energy technology and development. Currently available data regarding RE is lacking or contradictory so we also recommend constructing a committee that would be in charge of maintaining statistics and improvements provided by the enactment of this policy. It is estimated that we currently produce 190 GWH from RE sources and a recent NREL study predicts that continuing our tax credit program should increase our RE capacity to 450 GWH by 2030 (Mai). If this increase in RE capacity is achieved we will be reducing our annual CO2 emissions by 1420 million metric tons (Renewable).
The above two initiatives will help move Critical Thinklandia towards a carbon-free future. Although our proposed plan is not enough to stop the effects of climate change completely, it will slow our rate of emissions and therefore reduce the effects that global warming and climate change have on our citizens, our nation, and our Earth. If our proposed plan is enacted we will be one step closer to a carbon-free future. Keeping the environment clean and safe lies in the hands of us, the people of the world, and how we manage our coal emissions and RE deployment will showcase our countries dedication towards a sustainable future.
Energy Information Administration. “Annual Energy Outlook 2015.” Independent Statistics & Analysis. U.S. Energy Information Administration, n.d. Web. 08 May 2016.
—. “Short Term Energy Outlook.” Independent Statistics & Analysis. U.S. Energy Information Administration, n.d. Web. 08 May 2016.
Mai, Trieu, Wesley Cole, Eric Lantz, Cara Marcy, and Benjamin Segrin. Impacts of Federal Tax Credit Extensions on Renewable Deployment and Power Sector Emissions. Tech. no. NREL/TP-6A20-65571. Golden: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2016. Print.
Renewable Energy Sources & Climate Change Mitigation. Rep. no. 9789291691319. N.p.: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2011. Summary for Policymakers. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 01 Jan. 2012. Web. 8 May 2016.
Union of Concerned Scientists. “Benefits of Renewable Energy Use.” Renewable Energy. Union of Concerned Scientists, n.d. Web. 08 May 2016.
—. “Smart Energy Solutions: Decrease Coal Use.” Energy. Union of Concerned Scientists, n.d. Web. 08 May 2016.
Washington State Ecology Department. “What Is Climate Change?” Climate Change Education. Washington State Department of Ecology, n.d. Web. 08 May 2016.
Zielinski, Sarah. “Climate Change Will Accelerate Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction.” The Age of Humans. Smithsonian, 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 08 May 2016.
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