On the Supreme Court decision: About damn time. The EPA hasn't done their bloody job since Bush took office, and I'm getting really sick of it, since they're only, you know, the primary agency responsible for fighting the single* greatest threat to the human race since the Black Death.
"20 in 10" is pathetic. How about "100 in 10"? Eliminate all gasoline, and start phasing out coal and oil power plants and petroleum-based plastics, by 2018. That's plenty of time to get alcohol refineries up and running and retool the car fleets for complete-combustion engines with synthetic-rubber gaskets instead of plastic (which alcohol dissolves). We'll need some government-provided incentive to get the car companies to go for it, but if we drop the idiotic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that'd free up a cool $12 billion a year, probably close to enough. The technology all exists; we just have to build it.
*Okay, "single" is a misnomer. Global warming on its own is actually relatively simple to reverse. It's just a matter of actually doing it. The real threat is the global warming-overconsumption-despeciation trifecta, which is a very real and serious threat to the survival of the species.
Seriously. Ten years? Bwuhuh?
I cannot tell if your "bwuhuh?" is meant to convey "That is plenty of time; why is Bush being so stupid?" or "All that in 10 years? You're crazy, Froborr."
A 2% decrease per year in use of gasoline as a motor fuel hardly qualifies as significant action in my mind. I can understand that they might need some ramp up time to get there, but I would have expected a higher ultimate goal, particularly so because making more changes beyond that would probably require more ramp up time. Aiming to fix our dependence on gasoline in 2058 is just pushing off the problem to future generations. I think that if we planned to eliminate gasoline entirely, it might need a longer lead-up time given the requirements for building infrastructure and recycling the current crop of vehicles which do depend on gasoline, but I'd expect 90-100% in 15-20 years, not 20% in 10. I had originally thought that your plans with regards to coal/oil plants was a little ambitious, but I just reread and noted that you stated "start phasing out", which is, to my mind, much more realistic.
I agree with you.
I had a lengthy response describing what we need to do, but my Internet connection is extremely spotty today and ate it.
Short version: alcohol cars with Flex engines (capable of using gasoline or alcohol) are already being manufactured by General Motors and Volkswagon. They are mostly sold in Brazil. Thus, the R&D has already been done; it is simply a matter of handing the car companies some cash and passing a law requiring Flex or alcohol-only engines by 2012. By 2018, when selling or possessing gasoline for use as a fuel source would become a crime, virtually all cars would be alcohol-capable, especially if you give out a tax credit for trading in your gas-burning for a Flex or alcohol-burning car.
Eliminating coal and oil plants will be hard. Solar power is the best bet for replacing them, but the best bet for solar is one very large plant in Nevada, and that would result in a very precarious power grid. So we'd need to remodel the power grid and construct back-up clean (wind, solar, hydroelectric, etc.) power plants all over the country. Definitely need a few decades for that.
However, if we got rid of the cars and planted a lot of trees, we might be able to reach carbon neutrality in 20 years, and after that we'd be a net carbon absorber.
I agree with you.
A rare occurrence indeed, especially when we're not talking First Amendment!
The problem with power is that it would require mass-producible room temperature superconductors in order to rewire our power grid so that we could get all our power from one large source.
I think our best bet for power generation over the next century is going to be nuclear. Just riddle the countryside with meltdown-proof pebble beds and bury the waste in Nevada, and we should be covered until the materials science can catch up. Heck, by the time we start running out of uranium and be forced to consider the security implications of mass deployment of breeder reactors we should be pretty close to figuring out fusion.
In my original, eaten post I'd discussed fission. Best-case estimates I've heard for world uranium supplies are 100 years of *current*, *U.S.* consumption. It's naive to think that our power consumption will not rise over the next century -- it will, and probably by a great deal. Meanwhile, we'll be in competition with the entire rest of the world for that uranium supply, as they're all going to be trying to wean themselves off oil, too.
Ultimately, some variant of fusion, whether solar or artificial, is the only way to go, but both will require extensive research and development, and no one fuel source is going to supply our needs in the meantime. Hence my suggestion of continuing to use a reduced amount of fossil fuels, offset by increased planting of trees, during the "few decades" it would take to get large-scale solar up and running. All evidence is that solar technology is progressing significantly faster than fusion, and is probably therefore the better bet.
Not, ultimately, that any of this matters. Resource overconsumption and despeciation are going to collapse our food supply (and, thus, our civilization) well before we run out of uranium. Maybe even within our lifetimes, though hopefully not.