Home' Technology Review : November December 2009 Contents NOTEBOOKS
TECHNOLOGY REVIEW NOVEMBER/DECEMBER
gies for capturing and sequestering car-
bon emissions, and better ways to store
power from renewable sources.
We must also adress the problems asso-
ciated with "fracking," a process involved
in drilling for shale gas, which can pollute
air and water. Any program to increase
demand for natural gas must include
additional environmental safeguards,
such as comprehensive scientific analysis
and a requirement that gas producers
report their use of toxic chemicals.
Expanding the market for natural gas
would increase America's energy inde-
pendence, reduce the emission of green-
house gases, and create jobs. None of
these benefits, however, will occur with-
out comprehensive legislation.
DANIEL J. WEISS IS A SENIOR FELLOW AND DIREC
TOR OF CLIMATE STRATEGY AT THE CENTER FOR
Do No Harm
THE ANCIENT GREEKS CAN
HELP GUIDE THE USE OF
TECHNOLOGY IN MEDICINE,
SAYS STANLEY REISER.
We live in an age of technological
medicine, benefiting greatly from
its probings and treatments. Yet patients'
encounters with it can leave much to
be desired (see "Prescription: Network-
ing," p. 34). In addressing those deficien-
cies, there is no better place to begin than
a text produced 2,500 years before the
modern technological era.
The work is an essay called "The Art,"
produced by Hippocrates and his disci-
ples in ancient Greece. In his time, prac-
titioners of medicine considered their
discipline to be an art, not a science. This
meant, in essence, that doctors knew
they must use their ethical judgment to
direct the limited number of interven-
tions in their therapeutic arsenal.
The Hippocratic physicians were
concerned that intemperate use of these
DANIEL WEISS EXPLAINS
WHAT IT WILL MEAN TO TAP
THE COUNTRY'S LARGE
SU PPLIES OF NATU RAL GAS.
Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel---
it produces half as much carbon
pollution as coal, and one-third less than
oil per unit burned. Recent advances
make it a ordable to develop the natural
gas found in shale deposits, so we have
more of this resource than was previ-
ously thought: at current production
rates, there could be enough recoverable
fuel to supply the United States for the
next 90 years (see "Natural Gas Changes
the Energy Map," p. 44). This o ers an
opportunity to use natural gas as a bridge
to a clean-energy economy that relies on
e ciency, renewable power sources, and
low-carbon fossil fuels.
The American Clean Energy and
Security Act passed by the U.S. House of
Representatives in June, aimed at reduc-
ing the pollution that contributes to
global warming, would increase demand
for natural gas. The bill requires power
plants and other industrial facilities to
reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide
and similar pollutants by allotting them a
diminishing number of sellable "allow-
ances" to release these gases. This system
would increase the price of electricity
generated at old, ine cient power plants
fired by dirty coal---making electric-
ity from newer, cleaner, more e cient
natural-gas plants more competitive.
The House legislation would also
increase investments in wind, solar, and
other sources of renewable electricity.
Some of these power sources are inter-
mittent---they generate electricity only
while the wind blows or the sun shines,
for example. Natural gas can provide
backup power when these technologies
are unable to generate electricity.
Natural gas could even replace petro-
leum fuels for buses, heavy trucks, and
fleet vehicles. Proposed legislation
would require federal agencies to buy
alternative-fueled vehicles for their fleets;
it would also create economic incentives
for companies to purchase heavy vehicles
fueled by natural gas. As a result of these
policies, cleaner domestically produced
natural gas would replace some of the
dirtier imported petroleum we use today.
Other policies, too, could help expand
demand for natural gas and decrease the
pollution implicated in global warming.
The starting price of pollution allowances
should be raised to $14 per ton, which
would come even closer to equalizing
the price of electricity generated from
coal and gas. We should create incen-
tives to retire aging, ine cient, dirty
coal-fired power plants and replace them
with renewable and low-carbon electric-
ity. And we need to conduct research on
more e cient turbines, e ective strate-
Links Archive January February 2010 September October 2009 Navigation Previous Page Next Page