Extensive R&D Needed to Defeat Global Warming
WASHINGTON — Weeks after Congress approved legislation that dedicates $35 billion to promote energy efficiency, lawmakers forged ahead Friday to determine how they will spend it.
They hope to push the U.S. economy toward more renewable energy while moving away from fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.
Some Democrats said an ambitious environmental policy could help in the recovery from the recession created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Addressing the climate crisis is a unique opportunity to get America back to work,” said Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
The Energy Act of 2020 Congress approved in late December integrates more than 60 bills to authorize research and development of emissions-reducing technologies. It creates dozens of opportunities for the Biden administration to invest in these technologies.
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is one of the lead committees to decide how the technologies are funded.
Some of the proposals are similar to goals of the Green New Deal, which seeks to transition the United States to 100% renewable, zero-emission energy sources.
It would use government regulations and investment to create incentives for electric cars and high-speed rail systems. It would impose a “social cost of carbon” through fees or fines on industries that emit greenhouse gases.
Authors of the Green New Deal say the costs to the economy would be offset by new environmental jobs.
Republicans say the plan would increase the national debt to the point it could overwhelm the rest of the U.S. economy.
Witnesses at the House hearing Friday spent most of their time talking about the dangers of global warming rather than specific funding proposals.
Michael Oppenheimer, a geosciences professor at Princeton University, told the committee that in 2020, the earth maintained a record temperature averaging 2-degrees Fahrenheit higher than the early industrial era.
“Associated with this warming, pervasive changes have been detected in many features of Earth’s climate system, including more frequent hot days and nights and fewer extremely cold ones, increases in the frequency, intensity and amount of heavy precipitation events, greater intensity and duration of drought in some regions, increase in the intensity of North Atlantic hurricanes and sea levels rising nearly worldwide,” Oppenheimer said in his testimony.
Zeke Hausfather, a policy analyst for the Oakland, Calif.-based environmental research group the Breakthrough Institute, suggested a multi-faceted approach to reducing greenhouse gases.
“We shouldn’t put all our hopes into a single future technology,” Hausfather said.
He advocated for electric vehicles, solar energy, a new generation of efficient nuclear reactors and carbon capture technology that traps carbon dioxide from industrial emissions.
“But as long as emissions remain above net-zero, the world will continue to warm,” Hausfather said.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., cautioned that any congressional approach to climate change should be based on incentives and technology development rather than regulation.
“America’s clean energy future is driven by innovation, not by mandates,” Lucas said.
Strict government regulation to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions could hurt U.S. international competitiveness, especially against China, he said.
“We can do this without raising energy prices and hurting American consumers,” Lucas said.
In The News
One of the more disturbing trends of the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the susceptibility of diabetic Americans to the virus. Researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso conducted a study that indicates unmanaged diabetes is a decisive element of COVID-19 severity and complications,... Read More
Stanford researchers recently published a study which examines the brains of those who died from COVID-19, finding they resembled those with Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative conditions. “We want to understand how the brain responds to this virus and people with severe disease, and it was a... Read More
In a medical first, researchers harnessed the brain waves of a paralyzed man unable to speak — and turned what he intended to say into sentences on a computer screen. It will take years of additional research but the study, reported Wednesday, marks an important step... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A congressional panel called a group of virologists together Wednesday to figure out the source of the COVID-19 virus but ended their hearing by concluding they still don’t know. However, they did agree the virus that has killed more than four million people worldwide... Read More
WASHINGTON - Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Dr. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., are leading a renewed bipartisan drive to improve the nation’s diagnostic testing capabilities and ensure hospitals and laboratories across the country are better able to respond to future national health emergencies, such as the COVID-19... Read More
This article is by Prachi Patel and was originally published by Anthropocene magazine. Using compostable forks and spoons might soothe an environmentalist’s soul, but the reality is that most of this cutlery ends up in landfills, where it sits around just like conventional petroleum-based plastics. Researchers have now found... Read More