Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Research Spending Lacking in the Fight Against Global Climate Change

The New York Times carried a fairly in-depth story on Monday highlighting the lack of research dollars - both public and private - flowing into climate friendly energy technology development worldwide.

Despite growing awareness and consensus that action must be taken to address global climate change, the Times reports that research into energy technologies - both government and private spending - has not been rising, but falling. According to the Times, the annual United States federal spending on all energy technologies, not just climate friendly ones, has fallen from an inflation-adjusted peak of $7.7 billion in 1979 to just $3 billion in the current budget.

In contrast, federal spending on medical research has nearly quadrupled since 1979 and military spending has gone up 260% since then to $75 billion a year - over 20 times what is spent on energy research.

[Graphic: Public and private energy research spending. Click the image to see how it compares to spending on other areas (Source: NY Times)]

According to the Times, President Bush has sought an increase to $4.2 billion for the 2007 energy research budget, but that is still only a small fraction of what most climate and energy experts say would be needed.

Energy and climate experts across the world - including more than four dozen scientists, economists, engineers and entrepreneurs interviewed by Times - are sounding the alarm and warning that unless the search for abundant carbon-free and renewable energy sources becomes far more aggressive, the world is likely to face dangerous warming and international strife as nations with growing energy demands compete for increasingly inadequate resources.

Read on at: "Budgets Fallin in the Race to Fight Global Warming", Andrew Revkin (New York Times, October 30, 2006).

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