From the past there is the perception that major environmental problems on the transboundary or global scale can be solved with technology. This was for example the case for the ozone layer depletion. Banning the usage of FCKW and the implementation of FCKW free technologies has solved the problem. The ozone hole of Antarctica is out of the scope of the public and the media. Also the waldsterben is not an issue any more. To curb its main cause, sulfur dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants, appropriate mitigation measures are available. They just have to be applied. In Europe and the US this happened and the issue can be considered as solved.

 

The issue is different with greenhouse gas emissions. Aside from the question of the real contribution of greenhouse gases to global warming one problem becomes more and more clear. Contrary to popular believe there is increasing indication that a solution only based on technology is not possible in the foreseeable future. What are reasons for this?

 

First of all, it is the fact that many climate neutral technologies can not really or only at much higher cost replace the utilization of fossil fuels. To name two examples, solar power and wind power compared to fossil fuels are not reliable and stable in their electricity yield. To use them for electricity production either requires reserve capacities or large storage capacities after transformation of the energy produced by them into some storage-capable form, e.g. hydrogen generated by climate neutral electricity via electrolysis.

 

Secondly there is the issue of biofuels. Doubt is growing about the real ability of biofuels to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions and growing awareness of negative impacts of biofuel production on biodiversity, water and soil, both directly and through indirect land-use change at the global level.

 

In essence for the foreseeable future there is no indication that renewable energy will reach cost levels of traditional fossil fuel and nuclear based technologies. A global comprehensive dissemination of these technologies is therefore hardly probable. What remains in the end? The demand must be curbed constrained. An approach more people should think about. It will also help to get more independent from corrupt and greedy oil and gas dictatorships.

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