Why Change the National Energy Profile? Gren Ways 2 Go‘s opinion!
Perhaps most importantly are the measured increases of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG) over the last century and the associated measured and predicated impacts of climate change (droughts, floods, hurricanes, wild fires, glacial melting, ocean acidification, shoreline loss, etc.), which has been statistically correlated with the amount of global fossil fuel combustion. James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist, stated in 2008 that the 2008 concentration of 385 parts per million (ppm) atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) already represented an irreversible tipping point. Dr. Hansen further states that 350 ppm CO2 should be targeted as a sustainable maximum. CO2 is the largest man-made contribution to climate change and represents over 80% of the man-made GHGs. This means we cannot get the water back into the glaciers, cannot lower the acidity of the oceans, and we cannot stop the weather patterns from changing; we can only lessen the severity by stopping the continued addition of green house gases into our atmosphere. In May of 2012, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) measured the average level of CO2 at nearly 400 ppm . If we stay on the same pace of fossil fuel consumption and green house gas generation, the severity of global climate changes is expected to only worsen.
This increasing scarcity of fossil fuels coupled with environmental and climatic factors are interacting to force a paradigm shift in how we manage our energy, and in particular, the energy we use for transportation. The US Federal Government is aggressively looking to improve the efficiency of our average vehicle (gasoline and diesel) fuel economy and is also seeking alternative ways of fueling our vehicles (e.g. electric vehicles, natural gas, propane, biofuels and hydrogen fuels).
Amplifying the urgency to move from conventional energy to alternatives is the fact that new ideas and technology can take many years to develop and then successfully launch into production. During such a paradigm shift in energy sourcing, many ideas have been and will be tried – this is the nature of innovation (whether privately or publically funded). R&D and production ramp up to competitive levels can take up to a decade or longer. Alternatives to oil as our primary energy source for transportation need to be developed and deployed now, not later.