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Video: Ken Caldeira on limiting global temperature rise

  • 17 Feb 2012, 18:00
  • Verity Payne

Why switch from carbon intensive energy sources like coal to lower-emissions options? The logic is that it's a necessary step to stop global temperatures from continuing to rise. So it may have come as a surprise to some yesterday to read this headline at the Mail Online: ' Switch to low-carbon power sources 'risks making global warming worse' study warns.

In fact, as we pointed out, this headline only tells half the story - a new study actually suggests that switching from coal to low-carbon energy can stabilise global temperature, it will just take a few decades before this happens - a point made by one of the authors Ken Caldeira in the video below.

Why? Largely because switching to 'green' energy means building new green energy plants, and this emits a lot of greenhouse gases, causing some additional warming. As you might expect, once the green energy plants are up and running their greenhouse gas emissions are substantially lower than coal plants, so in the long run the change would obviously lessen global warming.

The study also suggests that switching from coal to gas power has remarkably little effect on limiting temperature rise. In this video, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, one of the study's authors, explaining his research and its findings:

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