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Climate Change & Manufacturing

david dornfeld“When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

The subtitle to this article, the so-called “first law of holes,” is attributed to various sources (earliest going back to 1911 in the Washington Post) and is usually interpreted as “if you find yourself in an untenable position, you should stop and change, rather than carry on exacerbating it.” (fromWikipedia)

China became the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter in 2006, overtaking the US due primarily to electricity generation and industrial processes. However the per capita carbon footprint of a Chinese person is still much lower than the average US person. This is not good. Increasing industrialization and the slippery slope to more consumption.So, what’s the “hole” and how do we stop digging?

Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist, recently commented on a public radio talk program broadcast on KQED in the San Francisco Bay Area (Michael Krasny’s  Forum program) about the recent release at the end of last year by the United Nations of one of its bluntest and bleakest reports to date on the dangers of global warming. The UN study, prepared by he Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that the world must cut nearly all greenhouse gas emissions by 2100 in order to head off the worst effects of climate change. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders to act, saying that “the science is unambiguous”.

The IPCC study now argues that humans are affecting the climate with 95% certainty (this is the same degree of certainty with which the medical community links smoking to lung cancer … there is always a possibility that it is not the case but the preponderance of evidence indicates there is a cause-effect relationship).

By way of background, the aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:

1    Human-induced climate change, 2    The impacts of human-induced climate change, 3    Options for adaptation and mitigation.

One of the first items in the IPCC “Summary for Policymakers” is the following clear and concise statement:

“Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.”

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One thought on “Climate Change & Manufacturing

  1. This article just strengthens my belief that either (a) there is nothing we can do to stop climate change so we might as well start preparing the best we can for its negative effects or (b) world leaders should start formulating a plan so as to “geo-engineer” the climate, even if this means taking a substantial risk. I don’t mean to sound flippant about global warming but renewable energy technology is simply too little, too late to stop global warming.

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