Deputy Secretary of the Office of Energy and Technology Deployment, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions
Visit this link for more information on Dickinson’s Focus the Nation programs.
Issue in Context
Global warming is a phenomenon believed to occur as a result of the build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Over the past 200 years, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil has caused the concentrations of heat-trapping “greenhouse gases” to increase significantly in our atmosphere. These gases prevent heat from dissipating, somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse.
Greenhouse gases are necessary to life as we know it, because they keep the planet’s surface warm. But, as the concentrations of these gases continue to increase in the atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature is climbing above previously recorded levels. According to NASA data, the Earth’s average surface temperature has increased by about 1.2 to 1.4°F in the last 100 years. Eleven of the last twelve years rank among the warmest years recorded since 1850, with the two warmest years being 1998 and 2005. Scientists are certain that human activities are changing the composition of the atmosphere, and that the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases will change the planet’s climate.
A March 2006 Time magazine, “ABC News”, and Stanford University poll revealed that most Americans are not aware of the broad scientific consensus on global warming and the majority of the survey participants see it as a problem for future generations. Human-induced warming has regional and global consequences ranging from hurricanes of greater intensity and duration, global water shortages, altered patterns of rainfall, massive forest loss, and large-scale species extinction.
Using energy more efficiently and moving to renewable sources of energy, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and bioenergy would significantly reduce the emission of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. The non-profit organization Focus the Nation is initiating a national teach-in on global warming solutions for America, creating a dialogue at over a thousand colleges, universities, high schools, middle schools, places of worship, civic organizations and businesses across the United States in order to mobilize human energies and create a sense of collective and moral purpose toward implementing efficient energy fuels and technology. The motivation for this project is to explore a new model of collaborative, interdisciplinary education, on a national scale. Focus the Nation provides an exciting model opportunity to create for one day a true national community of scholarship bridging traditional disciplinary boundaries.
About the Speaker
Daniel J. Desmond is the deputy secretary for the Office of Energy and Technology Deployment (OETD). The Office, created in January 2003, is responsible for identifying and supporting markets for innovative environmental and advanced energy technologies. OETD manages several grant initiatives focused on these business sectors, including the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, Energy Harvest, Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants and the Small Business Advantage grant programs. OETD works with citizen groups, businesses, local governments and NGOs on policy matters and strategies to encourage pollution prevention and energy conservation practices.
Mr. Desmond also served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Energy Office and was with the agency from 1983 until its merger with the Department of Environmental Protection in 1995. From April 1995 until his appointment in May 2003, he was chair of the Pennsylvania Energy Resources Center, an advocacy and public education project aimed to secure funding for renewable energy in the aftermath of utility deregulation. In addition, he was president of Sustainable Systems Research, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based firm specializing in the development and commercialization of environmentally beneficial technology.
Desmond Web site:http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/energy/cwp/view.asp?a=3&Q=466252
Governor’s Energy Independence Strategy: http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/energindependent/site/default.asp
Penn Future’s support for most of the Governor’s program:http://www.pennfuture.org/campaigns_detail.aspx?CampaignID=40&Home=Y
Web sites for a critique of the Governor’s program by PA environmental activists:
On the act itself implementing “alternative” requirements:http://www.actionpa.org/cleanenergy/
On waste coal and coal to diesel:http://www.energyjustice.net/coal/wastecoal/
On alternative transportation fuels:http://www.energyjustice.net/fuels/
Citizen Power in Pittsburgh: http://www.citizenpower.com/RenewableInitiatives/frontindex.html
Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions for America http://www.focusthenation.org/
Department of Environmental Science – Focus the Nation conference schedule http://alpha.dickinson.edu/departments/envst/news_ftn.htm
Global Warming Solutions: Act Now to Save the Planet http://www.globalwarmingsolutions.org/
Time Magazine/ABC News/Stanford University 2006 Global Warming Poll http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1176975,00.html
NASA Global Temperature Trends: Summation 2007 http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2007/
Video of the Program