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| Earth on Apr 08, 2009

Albert Carnesale: Limiting carbon emissions might help economy

Even in a tough economy like we’re seeing in 2009 – limiting carbon emissions might lead to economic opportunities, according to Albert Carnesale of UCLA. He’s an expert on international affairs and security and chairman of a U.S. National Academy of Sciences committee on America’s Climate Choices.

Albert Carnesale: There are very few people left who do not accept as fact that the Earth is warming, that climate change is taking place, and that man is contributing to that trend. The challenge is real, and the problem will be great if we do nothing.

That’s Dr. Albert Carnesale of UCLA. He’s an expert on international affairs and security – and chairman of a U.S. National Academy of Sciences committee on America’s Climate Choices. The committee has launched studies – requested by our Congress – to inform U.S. climate policy.

Albert Carnesale: It’s different in the sense that we were asked specifically, what should we be doing – what should be America’s response to climate change.

Ninety seven percent of active U.S. climate scientists, responding to a 2008 survey, agree that humans play a role in causing global warming. Dr. Carnesale said – even in a tough economy like we’re seeing in 2009 – limiting carbon emissions might lead to economic opportunities.

Albert Carnesale: Well, for example, should we have a price on carbon that’s emitted in to the atmosphere, carbon dioxide? If the answer to that is yes, in one way or another, whether it’s a tax or a cap and trade program, that will open opportunities for alternative energy sources in ways that are not currently, economically viable. That’s new kinds of jobs, new kinds of research and development.

And as fuel prices rise, it might make even more sense, said Carnesale, to insulate homes better for lower bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

The United States, with less than 5 percent of world population, emits roughly one-quarter of the total amount of carbon dioxide added to Earth’s atmosphere each year. Scientists now predict that Earth could warm from two to five degrees by mid century, largely depending on what actions are done today to limit CO2 emissions not just in the US, but across the globe.

Our thanks to:
Albert Carnesale
Committee on America’s Climate Choices
Chancellor Emeritus, Professor
University of California, Los Angeles