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TheStreet Open House

Energy Industry Ignores Global Warming

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The American Association for the Advancement of Science on Tuesday unveiled a new information initiative aimed at building public support for the scientific consensus surrounding climate change and calling for a global response to curtail carbon emissions. 

The appearance of such an aggressive campaign is welcome, given the public misinformation on all topics related to global warming, as demonstrated in articles and comments in recent weeks at TheStreet, and foot-dragging on the part of the U.S. government and the energy industry as a whole in addressing the problem of growing CO2 emissions. That misinformation has included very public disagreements between scientists on the details of their conclusions. However, as the AAAS literature states, such debate is an illusion that masks an underlying acceptance of global warming science.

The energy industry as a whole has used the public confusion on the issue to avoid doing anything to develop a solution.

Dealing specifically with "anthropogenic global warming" caused primarily by human-produced carbon dioxide, the organization's new Web site, "What We Know" offers articles and videos using strongly worded statements, clear language and little equivocation.

The What We Know initiative is dedicated to ensuring that three "R's" of climate change communicated to the public:

  • The first is Reality -- 97% of climate experts have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening.
  • The second is Risk -- that the reality of climate change means that there are climate change impacts we can expect, but we also must consider what might happen, especially the small, but real, chance that we may face abrupt changes with massively disruptive impacts.
  • The third R is Response -- that there is much we can do and that the sooner we respond, the better off we will be.

The Industry Response

In a perfect world, the "response" would see the energy industry building on its existing initiatives to create new momentum for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. But industrywide, suppliers and fossil fuel energy producers feel little pressure and have made little effort to implement technology being developed and deployed in isolated instances.

"That's true and it's kind of tragic," said Susan Hovorka, a scientist and researcher at the Gulf Coast Carbon Center and the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. While noting a public discussion of alternative energies, she also pointed out that that the world's energy infrastructure is currently constructed around fossil fuels and no alternative can compete with them for portability and utility.

"The solution that's not discussed very much is dealing with the problem, the release of carbon dioxide," she said.

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