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Added Comment on the Future of Electrical Power Generation

I have cued the Instablog post ( for consideration by SA editors as an article.  I had one additional thought occur while writing the article that might, had I included it, turned to article to into one about climate change and environmental factors.  I wanted to preserve that discussion to be about economic issues.  Therefore, I am posting this thought seperately.

In reading Prof. MacKay's op ed (here), the realization was emphasized that humanity is reversing, in about 200 years, hundreds of millions of years of carbon sequestering by our planet.  We may be less than half way through that process, but we certainly have it substantially started.

I admit that many other physical factors have changed over several hundred million years, including the strength of the sun, the exact track of our planetary orbit, the gradual cooling of the earth's core, etc.  But to those who totally dismiss the role of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere, combined with the increased release of other IR absorbing gases (including methane, also sequestered over the same prehistoric time frames), I would point out that you can not take the earth's atmosphere back toward a condition that existed many millions of years ago without expecting some of the conditions that existed then to reappear.  Among these conditions were warmer temperatures and decreased surface of the globe surface above water.

The changes in planetary conditions from year to year, even decade to decade, may be influenced by many factors in addition to the concentration of the so-called greenhouse gases.  But the future variations over centuries and millenia can not occur in contradiction to these effects.  If they do occur over 1,000 years, it could be that many would welcome a transition to a global tropical paradise.  (I would have to exclude alpine skiers and ice climbers from among the happy.)  But if such a change occurs too quickly, say over 100 years, the rapidity of change could produce devastating economic dislocations.