November 21, 2006 1:44pm CST
Every person on the planet is dependent on the natural resources that make up our environment—our "natural capital." We sometimes take it for granted, but this capital is vital for sustainable economic and social progress. Energy is a key driver of economic progress throughout the world, yet the development, transport, and use of energy from all sources impact the environment. So how do we protect our "natural capital" while ensuring an ongoing supply of reliable and affordable energy? One of the most critical environmental challenges facing the world today is reducing long-term growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The use of fossil fuels to meet the world's energy needs has contributed to an increase in GHGs—mainly carbon dioxide and methane—in the earth's atmosphere. Many think this increase is leading to climate change, with potentially adverse effects on people, economies, and the environment—from coastal flooding, to droughts, to changes in ecosystems and biodiversity. Many governments and businesses agree on the importance of addressing the risk of climate change. The challenge is to do so while still providing the energy required to meet the demands of growing populations and economies.
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