September 4, 2011

Denmark: Unified on climate and energy plan for future

A photo of the crescent shaped Earth rising over the lunar rim was taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968 during NASA's Apollo 8 mission.

It gave mankind the first glimpse of home and how fragile it looks in the blackness of space. It is strange to think that the science which brought us to the moon and back — and today warns us of the dangers of carbon dioxide levels and climate change — should be the cause of so much divisiveness.

That is why a recent road map (plan) published in 2010 by a commission established by the Danish government is so remarkable. This Commission on Climate Change Policy found that Denmark can remove fossil fuels from its energy system completely, including transportation, by 2050, without the need for nuclear energy or use of carbon capture and storage.

The government immediately adopted this goal. The contrast to the dysfunctional political happenings in the United States makes their initiative all the more remarkable.

The Danes have looked at the same science, the same charts and data that show fossil-fuel consumption rising rapidly and that reduced availability is going to make it very expensive in the future. They accept the fact that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, that ocean levels will rise and basically said, "OK, what are we going to do about it?"

Another thing to keep in mind is that the capital, Copenhagen, lies more than 600 miles to the north of Plattsburgh. They don't have deserts with lots of sunshine to use photovoltaics to generate electricity, no mountain valleys with rivers of any significance to produce hydropower, no large forested areas to use as a source of biomass for energy generation purposes.

What the Danes have done is use all of the sources of energy available, in an integrated way, without the reliance of some "magic" future technology coming to their rescue.

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