Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 21, 2005
Life of the planet or life of the poor?
By SUZANNE ELSTON
In the Academy award winning film, Sophie's Choice, a woman destined for the concentration camps is asked to choose whether her son or daughter will die. It is an unbelievably desperate moment guaranteed to rip the heart out of any parent.
In a classic example of life imitating art, we are now being asked to choose between the life of the planet and the life of the world's poor. Or at least that's what leading Danish economist and political science guru Bjorn Lomborg would have us believe. Lomborg asserts that enacting the Kyoto treaty would limit global economic growth to the tune of $150 billion a year.
This amount is estimated to be twice that required to provide the education, health care and clean water so desperately needed in the developing world. Moreover, restricting the use of fossil fuels - the primary source of greenhouse gases - would further penalize countries whose primary source of energy is dirty coal.
All this comes at a time when a new study by Dr. Mark New, a climate expert at England's Oxford University, claims the planet is warming at a rate far faster than previously estimated. The study, which was commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, warns world temperatures are climbing at an unprecedented rate and we may soon pass the point of no return. In other words, runaway climate change may soon become a reality.
"Time is running out to avoid a two degree rise," said Dr. New.
New's research is a paper included in the WWF report 2 Degrees Is Too Much!: Evidence and Implications of Dangerous Climate Change in the Arctic.
So what do we choose? According to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, both.
In an address to the World Economic Forum, Blair is quoted as saying, "On both there are differences which need to be reconciled. If they could be reconciled or at least moved forward, it would make a huge difference to the prospects of international unity, as well as to people's lives and our future survival."
The solution lies in looking beyond our current paradigms. To use my favourite quote by Dr. Albert Einstein, "The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them."
Consider the GENI model. More than three decades ago Dr. Buckminster Fuller gave us an entire new paradigm of energy thinking by posing the question, "How can we make the world work for 100 per cent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone?"
What Fuller's research showed was that by interconnecting the electric power networks between regions and continents over the North Pole, we could create a global energy grid that would allow us abundant renewable energy resources, primarily solar and wind power.
The result is the Global Energy Network Institute (or GENI for short). According to the GENI website, we must first understand that there is no energy scarcity.
"The renewable energies (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal and biomass) are abundant far beyond our needs - and several are now cost competitive. So, tap renewable resources in remote sites (where they are usually found), and move the power via high-voltage transmission lines, which now can reach 7,000 kilometres, connecting nations and continents." In doing so we could provide electricity to the two billion people on this planet who currently live without it.
Fuller maintained his global model would offer a decrease in pollution from fossil and nuclear fuels, a reduction in hunger and poverty in developing nations and an increase in trade, cooperation and world peace and stabilize population growth in the process.
To find out more about the visionary brilliance of the man known as Bucky, visit The Buckminster Fuller Institute at www.bfi.org.
For more on the Global Energy Network Institute www.geni.org.
The WWF study, 2B0 Is Too Much!: Evidence and Implications of Dangerous Climate Change in the Arctic, is available at panda.org. search climate change.
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