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FAQ - Global Warming

Global warming is already causing damage in many parts of the United States. In 2002, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon endured their worst wildfire seasons ever. The same year, drought created severe dust storms in Montana, Colorado and Kansas, and floods caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Texas, Montana and North Dakota. Since the early 1950s, snow accumulation has declined 60 percent and winter seasons have shortened in some areas of the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington. Of course, the impacts of global warming are not limited to the United States. In 2003, extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1,500 deaths in India. Emergency flooding technologies in the UK and the Netherlands had to be deployed for the first time in history, this year.And in what scientists regard as an alarming sign of events to come, the area of the Arctic's perennial polar ice cap is declining at the rate of 9 percent per decade.

They used to be, but nowadays sophisticated blade designs offer noise reduction down to the level of wind blowing through trees for small-scale turbines (under 3kW).

Technically, yes. Legally, no, since there are yet no bylaws concerning decentralised production of energy and feeding into the grid. It is highly unadvisable to do so, since various security issues need to be taken into account before hand, hence the project we are working on.

Recently, researchers -- and even some countries' Defense Departments -- have investigated the possibility of abrupt climate change, in which gradual global warming triggers a sudden shift in the earth's climate, causing parts of the world to dramatically heat up or cool down in the span of a few years. In February 2004, consultants to the Pentagon released a report laying out the possible impacts of abrupt climate change on national security. In a worst-case scenario, the study concluded, global warming could make large areas of the world uninhabitable and cause massive food and water shortages, sparking widespread migrations and war. While this prospect remains highly speculative, many of global warming's effects are already being observed -- and felt. And the idea that such extreme change is possible underscores the urgent need to start cutting global warming pollution.

Yes, it is possible to do so, but connecting to the grid is cheaper. Indeed, these renewable sources have the inconvenience to be intermittent: sun only shines at daytime, and wind isn?t continually blowing. So costly batteries are needed to stock energy for the times when the household does not produce it. This can be avoided by using the grid as a ?backup?. Ultimately, connecting to the grid enables to feed in to it, providing a steady income.

Yes. And this is true for every country of the world. However, Al Gore has highlighted the American situation. The Bush administration has supported only voluntary reduction programs which have failed to stop the growth of emissions. Even leaders of major corporations, including companies such as DuPont, Alcoa and General Electric, agree that it?s time for the federal government to create strong laws to cut global warming pollution. Public and political support for solutions has never been stronger. Congress is now considering fresh proposals to cap emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants from America's largest sources -- power plants, industrial facilities and transportation fuels. Stricter efficiency requirements for electric appliances will also help reduce pollution. One example is the 30 percent tighter standard now in place for home central air conditioners and heat pumps, a Clinton-era achievement that will prevent the emission of 51 million metric tons of carbon -- the equivalent of taking 34 million cars off the road for one year. The new rule survived a Bush administration effort to weaken it when, in January 2004, a federal court sided with an NRDC-led coalition and reversed the administration's rollback.

Cost-effective technologies to reduce global warming pollution from cars and light trucks of all sizes are available now. There is no reason to wait and hope that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will solve the problem in the future. Hybrid gas-electric engines can cut global warming pollution by one-third or more today; hybrid sedans, SUVs and trucks from several automakers are already on the market. Other measures include: 44. Check Your Tyres, 45. Make One Right Turn after Another, 48. Drive Green on the Scenic Route, and 41. Fill'er Up With Passengers. But automakers should be doing a lot more: They've used a legal loophole to make SUVs far less fuel efficient than they could be; the popularity of these vehicles has generated a 20 percent increase in transportation-related carbon dioxide pollution since the early 1990s. Closing this loophole and requiring SUVs, minivans and pick-up trucks to be as efficient as cars would cut 120 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution a year by 2010. If automakers used the technology they have right now to raise fuel economy standards for new cars and light trucks to a combined 40 m.p.g., carbon dioxide pollution would eventually drop by more than 650 million tons per year as these vehicles replaced older models. For more information on hybrid vehicles, see NRDC's hybrid guide.

It's simple: by reducing pollution from vehicles and power plants. Right away, we should put existing technologies for building cleaner cars and more modern electricity generators into widespread use. We can increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind, sun and geothermal. And we can manufacture more efficient appliances and conserve energy through energy efficient lifestyles. To optimise energy use in your own life or business CLICK HERE.

Global warming doesn't create hurricanes, but it does make them stronger and more dangerous. Because the ocean is getting warmer, tropical storms can pick up more energy and become more powerful. So global warming could turn, say, a category 3 storm into a much more dangerous category 4 storm. In fact, scientists have found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with ocean temperature over the past 35 years.

Yes. First, we must use more efficient appliances and equipment in our homes and offices to reduce our electricity needs. We can also phase out the decades-old, coal-burning power plants that generate most of our electricity and replace them with cleaner plants. And we can increase our use of renewable energy sources such as wind and sun. Some American states and countries are moving in this direction: California has required its largest utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2017, New York has pledged to compel power companies to provide 25 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2013 and countries of the world have set renewable energy targets.

Yes. Although local temperatures fluctuate naturally, over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. And experts think the trend is accelerating: the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990. Scientists say that unless we curb global warming emissions, average temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by the end of the next decade.

South Africa in general, and NMBM in particular, is a region of choice for both wind and sun. On the coastline, the windy city offers good conditions for turbines, and the irradiation is 95% of the world?s most sunny regions.

Yes. Global warming is a complex phenomenon, and its full-scale impacts are hard to predict far in advance. But each year scientists learn more about how global warming is affecting the planet, and many agree that certain consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue. Among these: Melting glaciers, early snowmelt and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages in the American West. Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding on the Eastern seaboard, in Florida, and in other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico. Warmer sea surface temperatures will fuel more intense hurricanes in the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Forests, farms and cities will face troublesome new pests and more mosquito-borne diseases. Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows could drive many plant and animal species to extinction. First world and developed countries have the economies to support these devastating impacts, however more worrying is the consequences in the Third World.

Solar energy production is still at its early stages, and the cost of the panels is still high. The reason why it is affordable in Europe and the US is because of attractive feed-in tariffs and/or subsidies as a result of political choices.

There are many simple steps you can take right now to cut global warming pollution. First and foremost, we most all take responsibility of educating ourselves, you can start by reading our news page which is there to help with this. Make conserving energy a part of your daily routine. Each time you choose a compact fluorescent light bulb over an incandescent bulb, for example, you'll lower your energy bill and keep nearly 700 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air over the bulb's lifetime. By opting for a refrigerator with the Energy Star label -- indicating it uses at least 15 percent less energy than the federal requirement -- over a less energy-efficient model, you can reduce carbon dioxide pollution by nearly a ton in total

Carbon dioxide and other air pollution that is collecting in the atmosphere like a thickening blanket, trapping the sun's heat and causing the planet to warm up. Coal-burning power plants are the world's largest source of carbon dioxide pollution -- they produce 2.5 billion tons every year in the United States alone. Automobiles, the second largest source, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually in the US. Here's the good news: technologies exist today to make cars that run cleaner and burn less gas, modernised power plants that decrease carbon emissions and the ablilty to generate electricity from nonpolluting sources, and cut our electricity use through energy efficiency. The challenge is to be sure these solutions are put to use.

The United States. Though Americans make up just 4 percent of the world's population,they produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning -- by far the largest share of any country. In fact, the United States emits more carbon dioxide than China, India and Japan, combined. Clearly America ought to take a leadership role in solving the problem. And as the world's top developer of new technologies, they are well positioned to do so --they already have the know-how.

Solar powering is a very rapidly growing market, and new technologies are constantly being developed. It is likely that prices will drop considerably throughout the next decade.

It's simple: by reducing pollution from vehicles and power plants. Right away, we should put existing technologies for building cleaner cars and more modern electricity generators into widespread use. We can increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind, sun and geothermal. And we can manufacture more efficient appliances and conserve energy through energy efficient lifestyles. To optimise energy use in your own life or business CLICK HERE.