Economist.com


Climate change: This house believes that tackling climate change means leaving fossil fuels behind completely and quickly


September 30, 2009

Featured guest
Mr. Robert A. Hefner III
The world's abundant, low-carbon natural gas is the natural bridge fuel to other non-carbon energy technologies, because natural gas has only one carbon molecule and four totally clean hydrogen molecules. Energy transitions are gradual, but can be significantly accelerated or delayed by government policy. Energy transitions are always the displacement of a less efficient, more primitive, dirtier fuel by a cleaner, more efficient modern fuel around which new groups of innovative technologies abound. The transition from coal and oil to the age of energy gases, natural gas, wind, solar and hydrogen is well under way. To attempt to leapfrog to totally non-carbon alternative energy sources will create significant and costly economic turmoil and displacement that unnecessarily damages the existing economic system. Rather, the acceleration of an ongoing transition tends to expand the economy and add jobs.

My book, The Grand Energy Transition, shows how civilisation itself, through trillions of energy decisions made continuously by all individuals on earth, is driving change within our energy system. That change is a grand transition from unsustainable, primitive, inefficient, dirty, high-carbon solid fuels, such as wood and coal, through what history will record as a brief liquid transition that used high-carbon oil and its products, to a millennia-long epoch that I call the age of energy gases. Read the full article here.