Banning New Coal Power Plants Will Slow Warming
Washington (AFP) Feb 27, 2007
A moratorium on coal-fired power plants is key to cutting carbon dioxide emissions that promote global warming, NASA's top climatologist said Monday. "There should be a moratorium on building any more coal-fired power plants until the technology to capture and sequester the (carbon dioxide emissions) is available," said James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
"This is a hard proposition that no politician is willing to stand up and say it's necessary," he told journalists at the National Press Club.
The build-up of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases in the atmosphere increases the so-called greenhouse effect, which warms Earth by letting light in, but blocking the heat from escaping the atmosphere, much like glass in a greenhouse.
Hansen said the technology to capture carbon dioxide "is probably five or 10 years away."
By then, he said, "all coal burning power plants that don't capture the CO2 will have to be bulldozed."
Electric power plants and transportation are top emitters of CO2, which has been largely responsible for increasing Earth's temperature since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, which brought a sharp increase in the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil.
Recent dramatic photographs of Earth's melting polar ice caps have convinced many skeptics that global warming is here to stay.
"The assumption that it takes thousands years for ice sheets to change is very wrong," Hansen said.
"Because of the melting of the ice sheet, the sea level is now rising at the rate of about 35 centimeters (14 inches) per century," he said.
"But the concern is that it is a very non-linear process that can accelerate," he said.
"The West Antarctic ice sheet in particular is vulnerable and if it collapses, that could make the sea level rise by five or six meters (16 or 20 feet) -- possibly on a time-scale of a century or two."
Source: Agence France-Presse
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