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Oil, Coal and Gas Step Up to the Plate

A Report on the 7th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies by D. H. Gottlieb

EASTSOUND, WA, September 27, 2004 --/WORLD-WIRE/--
So you think the oil companies the utilities companies, the coal companies don't care about Global Warming? Think again. No one I questioned at this industry conference doubted that human induced climate change is occurring and CO2 is a major factor. Over the last decade the prominent oil, coal and utility companies have spent R&D dollars, lots of them, working to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions through research partnership worldwide in scope and collaboration.

Their focus: How do we keep the CO2 byproduct of our energy needs from getting into the atmosphere? Surprisingly to me, these companies and utilities have a workable plan to mitigate greenhouse gases. Unfortunately the plans to overhaul our energy technology takes decades to implement, the solutions can be politically and monetarily expensive, and the climate may not wait.

Current solutions to Global Warming are in the R&D stage and implementation is more than a decade years off, execution is tricky from a technological standpoint, scary from a political standpoint, and potentially expensive. These organizations are put in the unfortunate position of trying to solve a global energy predicament with limited budgets--and they need to address the situation without getting the public in an uproar because the cost of energy afterwards might sting.

To be more specific: think double your present utility bill as a result of CO2 remediation. Tough position to be in especially when you see the climate getting more and more unpredictable.

The new power plants will require 10-15 years before full scale commercial deployment can take place. One of the world's largest reinsurers, Swiss Re, reports that severe weather damage claims have increased from 4 billion dollars a year in the 1980's, to 40 billion a year in the 1990's, to 60 billion a year in 2003. They expect claims to reach 150 billion a year by the end of this decade. (All in 1999 dollars). Early estimates for just Hurricane Francis, Charles and Ivan are already estimated to be in the 20-40 billion dollar range for this year. And no one knows how much misery Hurricane Jeanne will bring.

Frankly, I came to the meetings ready to see a lot of hemming and hawing. Instead I saw dedicated researchers and developers hard at work on a daunting problem. The climate is going to make it tough enough on all of us in the near future as it adjusts to the increased heat we retain due to our need for cheap, abundant energy.

It is a time for courage: We must learn to respect the immense power that the climate has over our lives and remember that the political will, which we the people own, will define the rate and effectiveness of our response to climate change. The longer we delay the more difficult our task. The way we use energy will take change and time. Get ready for it. The End

(D.H. Gottlieb is a resident of the Pacific Northwest and Author of "The GALILEO Syndrome" - A novel on Climate Change. His interest in Climate Change began 20 years ago in Silicon Valley.)

For additional information contact Deborah Perry, Publisher CANOPY Publishing 360.376.6074

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