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Why celebrate energy?
Well, it provides us the heat we need, the food we need, and the electricity and fuels we need to enjoy our lives, do our jobs, and live each day. Biologically, energy keeps us alive and allows us to think, to work, and to play. Energy allows us to experience our world in a car, on a plane, on a boat, or on a train. We can connect with our friends and family and learn more about the world around us because of the electricity that powers our computers, our cellphones, and all of the technology we use each day.
Today, people use more energy than ever from a variety of sources for a multitude of tasks and our lives are undoubtedly better for it. Our homes are comfortable and full of useful and entertaining electrical devices. We communicate instantaneously in many ways. We live longer, healthier lives. We travel the world, or at least see it on television. All of this celebration requires moderation too.
We must continue to improve energy efficiency - getting as much work as possible out of a unit of energy and reducing our waste. We make choices each day about our use of energy - turn on the lights, carpool, take public transportation, drive a more energy efficient car - and we must consider the impact of our choices on our economy and our environment.
This month, let's celebrate what energy allows us to do and let's celebrate the scientists, engineers, public servants and citizens who seek smarter ways to use energy wisely each day.
Meet JAMES HRYNYSHYN and comment upon his thoughts on CELEBRATING ENERGY!!
James Hrynyshyn is an independent communications consultant and journalist specializing in science, ecology and, whenever possible, marine issues. He has a degree in marine biology, another in journalism, and experience working on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts. He brings all that to bear on an almost daily basis through his blog, The Island of Doubt, as part of the SEED magazine scienceblogs.com team. He devotes as much of each working day to studying and reporting on the changing nature of the Earth' heat balance. He is also a member of the The Climate Project , a national team of trained climate-change slide-show presenters.
The real clean energy debate
If you're a regular follower of conservative opinion leaders in America, you might have been led to believe that the most important debate in energy circles these days revolves around anthropogenic global warmining -- the idea that humans are to blame for climate change. You would be wrong. Despite what the Washington Post's George F. Will and Fox News' Glenn Beck endlessly repeat, despite what you hear from politicians like Minnesota's Rep. Michele Bachmann or Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe, the real debate among those who have devoted their professional lives to studying the issue is not whether we're heating the planet, it's what to do about it. The major conversation in Washington at the moment when it comes to climate change isn't about hard science at all, in fact, but resides in the the much murky world of competiting national economic strategies. On the one hand are those who want to introduce a tax on all fuels and sources of electricity that emit carbon, the element responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere, and thereby encourage the switch to clean sources of energy. It would raise the price of just about everything, so most proponents of a carbon tax also advocate some kind of offsetting dividend that would make the tax revenue- and wallet-neutral. On the other are champions of a cap-and-trade system that would mandate a declining limit to how much carbon the entire economy can emit, and let industry pay for shares of that shrinking cap. Supporters of a tax, including the country's chief climatologist, James Hansen argue it is simpler, will allow for fewer loopholes, and won't let middlemen game the system, and extract wild profits from consumers, as they did in the housing credit market. They also point out that the European experiment in cap-and-trade has been a miserable failure. Swiss Re, one of the continent's largest insurance companies, just closed its carbon trading desk, for example. But cap-and-trade proponents, including the president, have essentially comes to the conclusion that American's won't swallow anything called a tax, even if cap-and-trade amounts to the same thing. So it looks like that's where we headed, whether it stands a chance of actually reducing carbon emissions or not. As this is my last post at the Year of Science, I'll sign off by pointing you to some of the better sources of information on this critical issue, which will dominate much of the rest of the year. Joe Romm's Climate Progress can be a little heavy on the hyperbole, but remains essential reading to anyone following government's attempts to develop climate policy. The Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog is relatively free of the scientific ignorance that dominates the paper's editorial pages, and keeps a close eye on how the country's captains of industry are struggling to adapt to the new reality. And Yale University's e360 magazine does a bang-up job analyzing the larger forces at work throughout society. There is plenty to debate out there when it comes to plotting the path to a stable-climate energy portolio. Don't get distracted by those who can't bring themselves to admit we've been on the wrong one too long. If you're a regular follower of conservative opinion leaders in America, you might have been led to believe that the most important debate in energy circles these days revolves around anthropogenic global warmining -- the idea that humans are to blame for climate change. You would be wrong.
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