U.S. is worlds behind on global warming | VailDaily.com

U.S. is worlds behind on global warming

Peter Leslie

if you are convinced by Al Gore’s propaganda about global warming, now is the time to put pressure on our politicians to act decisively.

Until the last possible moment at the recently concluded United Nations climate conference in Bali, the United States held out against the European Union’s push for a decision that industrialized nations should commit to greenhouse gas emission cuts of 25- to- 40 percent by 2020. The final conference compromise included no specific emissions targets, but only acknowledged that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective” of avoiding dangerous climate change.

With large developing nations such as China and India refusing to consider any cuts, but instead planning to increase their polluting emissions, U.S. citizens should be asking their representatives to take action in a number of areas.

The first is to increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to bring U.S. vehicle miles per gallon more in line with other industrialized nations. A major mistake was made in not increasing these standards gradually each year since they were introduced in 1975. Another major mistake was to exclude light trucks and SUVs from the standards, an error that Detroit automakers exploited to concentrate on the more profitable gas-guzzling SUVs exempt from CAFE regulations, effectively surrendering the compact and mid-size car market to foreign competitors.

Failure to make major increases in the average fuel efficiency of U.S vehicles has led to ever increasing reliance on oil imports at a huge cost and subsequent impact on our foreign trade deficit. If vehicles in the U.S. were as fuel efficient as in other developed countries, world oil demand would be considerably less, oil would probably be half its present cost and we would all be saving at the pump.

And we would not be pouring billions of dollars into the coffers of hostile countries such as Venezuela and Iran and enabling so-called “friendly” countries such as Saudi Arabia to spread fundamental Islamic doctrines around the Middle East and other unstable regions.

The second area where we should demand a major change is electricity generation, where we should be pushing for much greater use of nuclear power. Here we should follow the example of France, which was a net electricity importer through most of the 1970s, but now is the world’s largest net electricity exporter. France’s 59 nuclear reactors, supplying over 430 billion kWh per year of electricity, provide 78 percent of the total electricity generated.

While in absolute terms the United States is the world’s largest supplier of commercial nuclear power, nuclear power accounts for only 20 percent of the country’s electric energy consumption. New nuclear power stations have not been built for more than 30 years. As a result coal-fired power stations have continued to spew out pollution all over the country. A move to rapid expansion of our nuclear generating capacity could play an important part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

And, over the longer term, cheap electricity, available during off-peak hours, could be used to charge batteries of hybrid/battery vehicles, saving billions of barrels of oil, reducing our dependence on oil imports and consequently reducing world oil prices and our balance of trade deficit.

Wind power in the United States is a growing industry and has a present capacity in excess of 11.6 GW ” enough to serve 3 million average households. Germany, with a population only one-third of that of the U.S., but with 20.6 GW of installed wind power, is the world leader. The United Kingdom has recently disclosed plans to build offshore wind farms that will by 2020 provide sufficient electricity to power 100 percent of UK homes.

We, as private citizens, can play our part in reducing energy consumption by using our purchasing power to demand more fuel efficient cars, moving to hybrid and battery-powered vehicles as they become available and more affordable, and encouraging new “green” construction in the Vail Valley and elsewhere.

In this current election cycle, please pressure the politicians to take this issue seriously and act accordingly. If other developed countries can make progress, so should we.

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