Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The transition to sustainable energy will not be automatic or painless

Date:
November 4, 2013
Source:
Radboud University Nijmegen
Summary:
The production and consumption of energy cause serious problems – such as global warming, pollution and geopolitical conflicts – that make the current energy system unsustainable. Transformation into an alternative, sustainable energy system is essential, experts say.

The production and consumption of energy cause serious problems -- such as global warming, pollution and geopolitical conflicts -- that make the current energy system unsustainable. Transformation into an alternative, sustainable energy system is essential. Jιrτme Dangerman studied the world energy system and concluded that the system is locked into its current situation and no transformation will come abut without intervention or a crisis. On 5 November he will defend his doctoral thesis at Radboud University.

In his interdisciplinary thesis, Dangerman maps out the entire global energy system in its full complexity and the elements that play an important role, such as economics, technology, politics and sociology. He does this to answer the following question: is a transformation taking place or is the system 'locked-in'? He concludes the system indeed is in state of lock-in and it will not transform without determined intervention or an uncontrolled crisis. So there is hope, but only if forceful and decisive measures are taken.

But things are going well, aren't they…?

An important mechanism in technological industries, which affects the classical principles of free market forces and which conserves the current energy system, is what Dangerman calls the principle of 'success to the successful'. A successful activity attracts more success, at the expense of alternatives. The question of whether alternative action should be taken is essentially not addressed -- until it's too late. That is, until the climate has been irreversibly disrupted, essential ecosystems have collapsed or energy has become unaffordable. For this reason it is important that the current flows of subsidies and investments, which are now primarily aimed at conventional energy, be redirected towards renewable energy.

Ray of hope

Although Dangerman observes there are still many signs indicating the absence of transformation of the current energy system, he sees a ray of hope in the fact that production and consumption of renewable energy are nonetheless growing -- albeit much more slowly than possible and still insufficient in absolute terms. In this phase of the system, targeted involvement of governments stimulates that growth through legislation or subsidies. The experiences thus gained in Germany are highly instructive for the rest of the world.

Shareholders should also pay

An intervention that Dangerman previously suggested in an article in PNAS is to have shareholders also pay for environmental damage (http://www.nrc.nl/klimaat/2013/01/08/aandeelhouder-laten-opdraaien-voor-milieuschade/). With such measures, investment flows will shift towards companies that produce and use energy more sustainably.

Irreversible crises

According to Dangerman, if we continue on the current path, it cannot be excluded that critical transitions (jargon for irreversible crises) will occur in the global energy system and global ecosystem. 'The cynic may say that the loss of an old system creates lots of room for change and innovation,' says Dangerman. 'That may be true, but what is the cost of allowing the entire system to crash? Moreover, only a few of the strongest and a couple of lucky ones can absorb the consequences of a crashing system. It will be less painful to take measures now.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Radboud University Nijmegen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Radboud University Nijmegen. "The transition to sustainable energy will not be automatic or painless." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131104092726.htm>.
Radboud University Nijmegen. (2013, November 4). The transition to sustainable energy will not be automatic or painless. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131104092726.htm
Radboud University Nijmegen. "The transition to sustainable energy will not be automatic or painless." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131104092726.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) — Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins