In the 1970s, scientists discovered that chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons were being spewed into the atmosphere.
To their shock, they found that the chemicals — then common in refrigerators, air conditioners and hair sprays — were damaging the ozone layer that protects the world from dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation. In time, as the scientific evidence of the threat grew, the public demanded action — and got it, in the form of a treaty phasing out the compounds.
Now the world faces an even bigger risk — the devastating impact of climate change from the greenhouse effect. Evidence continues to mount that carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning — and methane, another greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent — is changing the climate.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science recently warned that average global temperatures are climbing. The evidence indicates that the world’s oceans are rising about a foot a century, and scientists think it will accelerate with the continued emission of large quantities of greenhouse gases.
More recently, the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group comprised of the world’s leading atmospheric scientists, warned that we are running out of time.
The IPCC said countries need to develop a plan for phasing out greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Because the window to do something about it is closing, corporations are taking the matter seriously. ExxonMobil, the world’s largest investor-owned oil and gas company, recently agreed to warn investors of the risks that stricter limits on carbon emissions would place on their business. Nike, which has more than 700 factories in 49 countries, has already reported the impact of climate change on its financial-risk disclosure forms to the Securities and Exchange Commission. One by one, other companies are becoming engaged in efforts to bring about a more stable climate. But companies do best when they follow where science leads.
The only way to produce large amounts of emission-free energy without loading the atmosphere with more greenhouse gases is to use nuclear power, and countries around the world now recognize its importance.
Here at home, the U.S. inventory of around 100 nuclear plants accounts for 64 percent of America’s zero-carbon energy. Five new nuclear plants are under construction, and a dozen additional large reactors are planned, along with a new group of small modular reactors. Recently, James Hansen, for many years NASA’s pre-eminent atmospheric scientist, and three other prominent climate experts, said nuclear power is crucial in the battle against global warming.
Worldwide, 435 nuclear plants provide electricity to 32 countries, and more than 70 nuclear plants are being built and another 350 are planned.
Asia has the most ambitious nuclear programs. In China, 26 reactors are under construction, including the world’s first Westinghouse AP100. China plans to quadruple its nuclear capacity by 2020.
South Korea gets more than 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, and has four nuclear plants under construction. Australia, Vietnam and Thailand are planning their first reactors. India has 20 reactors in operation, and seven under construction. And Japan, which shut down its nuclear plants in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident three years ago, recently announced plans to restart some of its plants.
In South America, Brazil and Argentina are expanding on nuclear capacity they already have. And in Europe, France gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, and exports some to neighboring countries. The British government is planning 10 new reactors to replace and add on to the 19 reactors that currently provide 20 percent of its electricity. Ireland, Poland, Norway and Turkey are planning their first reactors.
Countries are using nuclear power to replace coal plants, and in doing so they are doing something important for the world.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>