By Paul H. Carr, PhD, IEEE Life Fellow
Both COVID-19 and climate change are global and involve temperature increases.
If we wait for a crisis, it will be too late. The “stay in place” crisis response to the increase in COVID cases in March brought about reductions within months.
The response time for a climate crisis could take a century, which is the lifetime of the greenhouse gas CO 2 in our atmosphere. A climate crisis could be a 2 to 10-foot rise in sea level, should an Antarctic ice sheet break off. We need to reduce CO 2 emissions now or swim later. “A stitch in time saves nine.” The COVID “stay in place” restriction with reduced travel also lowered greenhouse gas emissions as much as 17%. Wearing masks and physical distancing is critical to saving lives and our economy.
Government funding to deal with COVID unemployment could reduce climate change. Grants for more energy efficient residences and businesses would create jobs for contractors. Similar funding could expedite the deployment of next generation small modular nuclear reactors. They are safer with half the construction cost. A MIT study showed that a reactor buildup could de-carbonize electricity generation in 30 years. A carbon fee plus dividend could reduce carbon emissions without increasing the US national debt.
Paul H. Carr, BS, MIT, 1957; MS, MIT; PhD Brandeis; IEEE Life Fellow; led the Component Technology Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Bedford, MA. It developed surface acoustic wave (SAW) filters used in cell phones and radar. After retiring in 1995, Paul was awarded Templeton Foundation grants for the philosophy courses he taught at U Mass Lowell. This inspired his book “Beauty in Science and Spirit.” In 2005, after hurricane Katrina forced his relatives to migrate north of New Orleans, he became more interested in climate change. He has participated in IEEE climate change debates, championed The Wicked Problem of Climate Change 2017 conference on Star Island off Portsmouth, NH, and published over 80 scientific papers. In 2002, he moved from Bedford, MA to Bedford, NH to marry Ginny. His web page is: