Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Climate change / / Frontline

Belgium 07
Originally uploaded by trudeau
1. In what ways might climate change affect the way people live?
- Sea level rise, diminished water supplies, severity of storms, rise in cost of living.
2. Describe how our economy and way of life are dependent on fossil fuels.
- Americans depend on coal for their electricity and petroleum to fuel their cars.
3. Describe the problems developing countries face in trying to modernize.
- There is a conflict between the goals of providing people with comforts - such as cars, highways and nice housing - and the maintenance of the environment.
4. Describe how U.S. policy toward global warming changed between the Kyoto Protocol and the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Bali.
- During the Kyoto bargaining the US position was "We participate only if our work is equaled by the developing nations." During the Bali conference the US compromised and agreed to work with the majority decision, or the consensus.
5. Why is the expression “America is addicted to coal” true?
- Some 80% of our electricity comes from coal-fired plants and there is no substitute power in sight.
6. Why is “clean coal” technology going to be difficult to implement as an environmentally acceptable fuel for producing electricity?
- Clean coal requires burying the CO2 underground; that's a dubious plan.
7. Historically, what has been the U.S. automakers’ policy on fuel-efficient cars?
- Detroit will make cars fuel efficient when forced to by government policy.
8. How has this policy benefited the automakers and cost the American consumer?
- The car makers have concentrated on short-term profit, leaving the overall health of the company in jeopardy.
9. Explain how the oil industry’s attitude toward renewable energy is similar to the U.S. automakers’ attitude toward fuel-efficient cars?
- The oil industry tends to concentrate on short-term sales of petroleum rather than investing in renewable sources of power.
10. Describe the lesson learned after the Clinton administration’s attempt to encourage U.S. automakers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Automakers such as GM offered only a temporary commitment to efficiency.
11. With all the evidence indicating that fossil fuel consumption contributes to global warming, why do you think Congress is still unable to come up with a plan to address the problem?
- Political polarization is part of the problem. When the major political parties are in a war for power, legislation is slowed. Additionally, some conservatives have decided to dispute the legitimacy of global warming.