Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Focus on technology overlooks human behavior when addressing climate change

Technology alone won't help the world turn away from fossil fuel-based energy sources, says University of Oregon sociologist Richard York. In a newly published paper, York argues for a shift in political and economic policies to embrace the concept that continued growth in energy consumption is not sustainable.

Many nations, including the United States, are actively pursuing technological advances to reduce the use of fossil fuels to potentially mitigate human contributions to climate-change. The approach of the International Panel on Climate Change assumes alternative energy sources - nuclear, wind and hydro - will equally displace fossil fuel consumption. This approach, York argues, ignores "the complexity of human behavior."

Based on a four-model study of electricity used in some 130 countries in the past 50 years, York found that it took more that 10 units of electricity produced from non-fossil sources - nuclear, hydropower, geothermal, wind, biomass and solar - to displace a single unit of fossil fuel-generated electricity. Read More