The scientists identified 15 technologies from wind, solar and nuclear energy to conservation techniques that are ripe for large-scale use and showed that each could solve a significant portion of the problem. Their analysis, published in the Aug. 13 issue of Science, indicates that many combinations of these 15 technologies could prevent global emissions of greenhouse gasses from rising for the next five decades.
The finding counters the common argument that a major new technology needs to be developed before greenhouse gasses can be controlled, said professors Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow, who conducted the study.
"It certainly explodes the idea that we need to do research for a long time before getting started," said Pacala, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and co-director with Socolow of Princeton's Carbon Mitigation Initiative.
"If we decide to act, we will need to reduce carbon emissions across the whole global economy," said Socolow, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. "Fortunately, we have the tools to do this, especially if we think in terms of 50-year campaigns, not instant solutions."
Although the current study did not examine the costs of scaling up each of the 15 possible technologies, the authors point out that implementing the measures would likely generate economic benefits, including creating new industries, reducing the U.S. dependence on foreign oil and lessening the need for other pollution-control expenses associated with burning coal and other fossil fuels.
Carbon the culprit
The study focuses on the main contributor to greenhouse warming, carbon dioxide, which comes from burning carbon-based fossil fuels such a
Contact: Steven Schultz