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Climate Change and Global Energy Security

Climate Change and Global Energy Security: Technology and Policy Options

Marilyn A. Brown
Benjamin K. Sovacool
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 432
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  • Book Info
    Climate Change and Global Energy Security
    Book Description:

    Tackling climate change and improving energy security are two of the twenty-first century's greatest challenges. In this book, Marilyn Brown and Benjamin Sovacool offer detailed assessments of the most advanced commercially available technologies for strengthening global energy security, mitigating the effects of climate change, and enhancing resilience through adaptation and geo-engineering. They also evaluate the barriers to the deployment of these technologies and critically review public policy options crucial to their adoption. Arguing that society has all the technologies necessary for the task, Brown and Sovacool discuss an array of options available today, including high-efficiency transportation, renewable energy, carbon sequestration, and demand-side management. They offer eight case studies from around the world that document successful approaches to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and improving energy security. These include the Danish approach to energy policy and wind power, Brazil's ethanol program, China's improved cookstove program; and the U.S. Toxics Release Inventory. Brown and Sovacool argue that meeting the twin challenges of climate change and energy security will allow us to provide energy, maintain economic growth, and preserve the natural environment--without forcing tradeoffs among them.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31065-9
    Subjects: Political Science, Physics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Motivation and Organization of the Book
    (pp. 1-12)

    Marion King Hubbert, the geophysicist who famously predicted when oil production would hit its peak in the United States, once commented that all of industrial civilization was threatened by the incompatibility of two elemental systems: the age-old system of matter and energy (with which humans and other animals have evolved symbiotically for thousands of years) and the more recent money-based culture (which has operated without respect for limits and constraints on growth).¹ Hubbert believed that the two systems could coexist only so long as the matterenergy system had sufficient reserves to enable the industrial-monetary system to grow. He worried that...

  5. 2 A Tale of Five Challenges
    (pp. 13-64)

    In the 1830s, the American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson traveled to Europe on a sailing ship and returned on a steamship. He crossed the Atlantic on a recyclable vessel powered by solar and wind energy and controlled by craftsmen practicing ancient arts, but returned on what would become a steel rust bucket spewing oil into the water and smoke into the sky, operated by men shoveling coal into boilers in the dark. Emerson ruefully contemplated the symbolic implications of this shift, noting that the more “advanced” vessel cut passengers off from the forces of wind and nature as...

  6. 3 Technologies for Mitigating Climate Change
    (pp. 65-124)

    In his novelSlaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut asks readers to imagine what the firebombing of Dresden during World War II would have looked like in reverse.¹ American bombers, full of holes and wounded men, would have taken off backward from airfields in England. German fighter planes would have sucked bullets and shells out of the aircraft over France. The bombers would have opened their doors and “exerted a miraculous magnetism” to shrink flames, restore buildings, and bring the dead to life. What amazing machines, Vonnegut is musing, the tools of war would be if they instead did the opposite.

    The same...

  7. 4 Technologies for Geo-Engineering and Adaptation
    (pp. 125-146)

    Late in the sixteenth century, the Mogul Emperor Akbar the Great decided to build a capital for his empire on the dry sands of what is now Northern India. The Emperor expended vast sums of his resources, hired the finest artisans and crafts persons, and constructed a city of imposing squares and awe-inspiring architecture. In building his capital on such a grand scale, however, Akbar did not anticipate how it would interact with the area’s surrounding natural environment. Just 15 years after it was completed, Akbar’s capital completely exhausted its water supply and its rulers summarily abandoned it. The residents...

  8. 5 Barriers to Effective Climate and Energy Policies
    (pp. 147-178)

    In 1992, Al Gore, then vice president of the United States, made a prophetic remark while discussing the causes behind climate change: “We are in an unusual predicament as a global civilization. The maximum that is politically feasible, even the maximum that is politically imaginable right now, still falls short of the minimum that is scientifically and ecologically necessary.”¹ Gore feared that the conditions responsible for energy-intensive lifestyles had become so entrenched in American and European society that fighting climate change was politically impossible. The solutions being touted at the time, moreover, touched on the fringes of the issue but...

  9. 6 Overcoming Barriers to Effective Climate and Energy Policies
    (pp. 179-214)

    Denny Ellerman, a leading authority on emissions trading and energy economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, compares today’s environmental problems to an earlier problem dealing with a common pool resource—land. Much like air and water today, land was once free for the taking, but population growth made it scarce and property rights emerged to allocate the scarcity. Today, practically no one questions that allocation of property rights, even though the initial allocation may have been “coercive and unfair.” Ellerman notes that the “ancient act” of switching to property rights is “lost in the mists of history and no...

  10. 7 The Case for Polycentric Implementation
    (pp. 215-240)

    At this point in the book, readers could rightly ask why it is that, despite all the policy and technology options available to cities, states, countries, and global leaders, greenhouse gases continue to be emitted and many components of energy security continue to deteriorate. Although this book does not provide an ultimate single answer, recent advances in psychology and academic professionalism may provide a partial explanation.

    Some research has shown that human beings develop psychological protective mechanisms to shelter them from the full force of many of their daily actions. Psychologists have tended to describe this function as “diffusion of...

  11. 8 Case Studies
    (pp. 241-316)

    An old joke has been circulating through academic circles for some time: A professor of economics and an elected official were passing through a field one day when they suddenly stumbled into a deep hole. After they regained consciousness and inspected themselves for broken bones and physical damage, the official looked at the walls of the hole, which ran a good 10 meters to the surface. She asked the professor if he had a plan for getting them out. After pondering for a moment or two, the professor replied “Well, first assume that we have a ladder….”

    The joke is...

  12. 9 Conclusions
    (pp. 317-330)

    At 10 o’clock on a cold winter night, figures emerge from a dark seawall and walk in the direction of a brightly lit power plant. They climb two 10-foot razor-wired electrified security fences, cross a parking lot, and continue toward the gentle hum of boilers and generators. They enter an unlocked part of the generator house and cause a giant turbine to crash. Before leaving, they put up a poster, handmade from an old bed sheet, that says “No New Coal!” They walk out the way they walked in, hop back over the fence, and recede into the darkness.


  13. Appendix A: Experts Contacted and Interviewed for Case Studies
    (pp. 331-338)
  14. Appendix B: Methodology for Case Studies
    (pp. 339-342)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 343-402)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 403-412)
  17. Index
    (pp. 413-416)