Florida Climate Change summit begins

07/12/07 Mitch E. Perry
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After Gov. Charlie Crist kicked off the two-day Conference on Climate Change this morning, the first panel dealt with addressing any lingering concerns that global warming is man made.

Bill Chamedies is the chief scientist with Environmental Defense, one of the environmental organizations helping to fund and organize the summit.

He said over the past few decades, when it was obvious to scientists that the earth was warming up due to increases in C0 2 emissions, theories were tried and failed as to the source of such emissions.

And Chamedies said that today carbon dioxide emissions has a 100-year lifespan in the atmosphere.

Chamedies was followed by Mike Sole, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection Director. He said that Florida is already seeing the impact of global warming, though the symptoms may not be as severe or dramatic as other scenarios depicted in other parts of the country or the world.

The next panel focused on effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

Steve Bolze, president of Power Generation for General Electric, said we should expect to see electricity generation double in just the next 25 years.

Wind is among the alternative sources of energy that Bolze believes will become more popular.

Dr. Neil Elliott is the Agriculture and Industry Program Director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) . He said Florida is one of the most rapidly growing states in the country, with so many houses built each year; so building codes will become an important issue, since they can reduce the amount of energy used in the future.

In recent years, Florida has gotten better at having homes built to codes that withstand hurricanes. Now, Elliot said, it must do the same based on energy.

And he said raising public awareness and rate incentives are ways to get everyday citizens to care about the issue.

James Fenton is with the Florida Solar Energy Center, which was created by the state Legislature some 30 years ago. His mantra, repeated throughout his presentation, was efficiency, efficiency, efficiency.

Fenton said 190,000 homes were built in Florida last year, but only 2-percent were EPA star efficiency homes. One of the criticisms of solar power is that it’s so expensive. However, Fenton says that will change in less than a decade.

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