A team of New York University researchers conclude the Earth’s atmospheric carbon
dioxide (CO2) content can be stabilized only with a tenfold increase in non-carbon
emitting power sources over the next 50 years. The current 1.5 terawatts of clean
power generation must increase to 15 terawatts by 2050, from its current 15 percent of the global total to at least 50 percent.
“Stabilizing CO2 at twice pre-industrial levels without untenable economic disruptions implies a massive shift to carbon-free power, particularly in developing nations,” said physicist Matin I. Hoffert, leader of the research team. “There are no energy systems technologically ready at present to produce the required amount of carbon-free power. Fission and fusion concepts now at early research and development stages could, in principle, provide the needed carbon-free power. Without policy incentives to overcome socioeconomic inertia, these could take more than 50 years to penetrate to their market potential. He called for an international effort pursued with the same urgency as the Manhattan Project or the Apollo space program.