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This paper was presented at a seminar on environmental aspects of transport policy held by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of the Bavarian CSU Party. It gives an overview of the phenomenon of global warming, of the main scientific predictions and of the world's complex carbon cycle. The paper advocates the removal of carbon itself from the world's energy systems. To continue using fossil fuels while attempting to dispose of carbon dioxide outside the atmosphere, either in space or in the oceans, would present enormous logistical and economic difficulties. Massive planting of trees would only attenuate the problem and postpone the disposal of the CO(2). Indeed the local increases in temperature caused by forest cover might lead to additional CO(2) emissions from accelerated putrefaction. The importance of clouds is a neglected factor in the global warming equation. Solutions such as mirror satellites and nuclear energy are dismissed as completely unrealistic. Zero economic growth would be less beneficial than improved energy efficiency. Efforts to this end should be concentrated more on eastern countries and less on attaining peak efficiency in highly developed economies. In the longer term, the paper favours a world energy economy based on hydrogen, produced by using solar and hydro power. This would require no great technological breakthrough: pilot projects are being planned already. Given taxation of fuel at a rate which took account of true invisible costs to the environment, it would be competitive and would bring economic advantages to poor but sunny regions of the world.

Additional information

Authors: GRETZ J, JRC Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: Energie-Emission-Klima: Lösungsansätze für den Verkehr, Wildbad Kreuth, November 5-8, 1989
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper DE 35128 ORA
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