Letter from the President
The power we have as a species comes from the harnessing of energy. Yet nearly everything we do in that regard, including manufacturing, transportation, lighting, heating even breathing creates CO2. How can we cool down the earth when the ice caps have melted? This is beyond our capability and power we use to compensate will create more CO2. We are currently pouring billions of tons of CO2 into our thin veneer of an atmosphere every year. In the United States, almost 40% of our Carbon dioxide output comes from our non-nuclear power plants.
The composition of the Earth's atmosphere is, in the most part, a reflection of life on earth.
Life has helped shape the composition of the atmosphere. For example 500 million years ago, in the Cambrian period before amphibians and reptiles had ventured on to land, (where mostly plants had domain) oxygen levels were very much higher than today. This in turn was able to support arthropods of enormous size. We shape the atmosphere and the atmosphere shapes us.
Today the Earth's biomass is much greater and we also have the multiplying factor of industrialization. There is no science that says "this will have no effect".
In 1986 a small hole was discovered in the Ozone layer. It was considered that Chlorofluorocarbons were responsible and a moratorium was placed on those products. Now, only an instant later in geological terms this ozone hole has grown enormously. Now it covers Antarctica and threatens New Zealand, parts of Australia and South America. The Ozone layer protects life on earth from the harmful radiation from the sun itself and is part of the balance of climate.
We must explore the only reasonable alternative to fossil fuels. Wind and solar power alone can not suffice. To supply merely one city would require panels so large as be an environmental danger itself while reducing available forest or farm land. I believe nuclear energy is the only practical alternative.
Since the 1940s civilization’s progress in nuclear power has been limited to harnessing the power of the atom bomb, the fission reaction. This process can be dangerous and produces large amounts of radioactive waste. We as a species now require a better designed nuclear (atomic) power plant.
We also require, right now, a breakthrough in the harnessing of the fusion reaction the power of the hydrogen bomb.
All today's nuclear reactors harness the power of fission, which is low in yield and high in radioactivity. Nuclear fusion however is high in yield and low in radioactivity.
If we do not galvanize the scientific community into action on these issues our legacy of life on earth may be a pale eel-like creature swimming in the deep ocean.
We in reality have only two other reference points to consider. There are three planets in our solar system about the same order of magnitude from the sun. One had life, Mars, but is now a dead atmosphereless planet and the other, Venus, where one would expect life, because of the green house effect, has temperatures which would melt lead.
There is this strange view that the earth will adapt and find a new equilibrium of temperature. It is folly for anyone to believe the earth will form a balance to suit us. Almost invariably all scientific models indicate an increased temperature will itself increase a further rise in temperature. This is an exponential process.
My grandfather was born before the era of the combustion engine. In geological time this period is the wink of an eye and yet we have altered the planet. In that same instant Civilization has made enormous technological changes. We could accomplish now even more technological change in half that amount of time.
Gary S. Schofield
President, The Global Concern