We have to act now and act wisely.
There is too much at stake for our society to adopt a wait-and-see attitude about the real costs of our dependence on fossil fuel combustion. Given the decades needed to develop and commercialize new energy sources, we have to act now to nurture the innovations needed to transform our energy economy from a steady, primarily monolithic industry centered on combustion of fossil fuels into a more dynamic, diverse sector that uses fossil fuels creatively and as one of many energy sources. Such an approach is best captured in the overarching theme as provided by the motto of the Boy Scouts of America: "Be Prepared"At this propitious time we should cast the widest possible net for research into near and intermediate term solutions for energy resources that are sustainable, efficient and environmentally responsible.Developing new ways to handle carbon fuel resources is the best strategy for ensuring a smooth transition away from a conventional, combustion-based fossil fuel economy.
Creating these innovations, however, is of no use unless their consequences are fully examined. It is important to adopt a cradle-to-grave assessment that recognizes the full spectrum of potential impacts. For example, the often touted ‘green’ lithium ion battery belies the huge 1.8 GJ of energy used to make only a 1 kWh capacity (3.6 MJ) battery; roughly 500 deep charge cycles (50% of its lifetime) on purely renewable electricity are needed just to break even with respect to the fossil fuels used to produce the battery. Consequences must also include analyses of the economic and social impacts of emerging energy technologies. Millions of people are employed directly or tangentially by the oil and gas industry, and it is vital for the nation to avoid abrupt dislocations in this labor market.
It is this last issue that motivates the focus of the Green Carbon Center on carbon: developing new ways to handle carbon fuel resources is the best strategy for ensuring a smooth transition away from a conventional, combustion-based fossil fuel economy.