Michael Nobel, the great-grandnephew of Nobel Prize founder Alfred Nobel, joined a group of local governmental officials and business leaders yesterday in Taipei to call on the public to take the battle against climate change seriously, a subject they said could affect the survival of humanity.
Nobel was the key guest speaker at the Energy Efficiency and Green Environment Forum, an event cosponsored by the Taiwan Architecture and Building Center and the Taiwan Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (TSHRAE).
"Much of the comfort of modern society depends on freely available electricity at reasonable prices. However, non-renewable energy, like the name suggests, will run out," Nobel said.
Not only is the world facing an energy shortage crisis, but energy consumption at present levels creates heavy pollution, which is causes global warming and threatens the survival of all species on the planet, he said.
"If the world"s carbon emission does not decrease by 50 [percent] to 85 percent by mid-century, the ecosystem that we have now could collapse," Nobel said, citing last year"s Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate change.
Taiwan should make greenhouse gas reduction the highest priority in its energy policy and act on global warming immediately, as the nation"s rate of temperature rise was steeper than the rest of the world, said Liu Shaw-chen (劉紹臣, director of the Research Center for Environmental Change at Academia Sinica.
"Since the industrial revolution, Taiwan"s temperature has increased 1.4?C, while the global average was 0.6?C," he said.
The impact of this rise for Taiwan has been serious, including shorter periods of sunshine －300 hours less each year compared with three decades ago －50 percent less relative humidity and 30 percent to 50 percent less light rain in the past 30 years, he said.
"Light rain is essential for the environment," Liu said.
The increase in the frequency of sandstorms in China in recent years is a possible result of that decrease in light rain, he said, because "while heavy rain usually goes directly into rivers, light rain is absorbed by the soil and keeps it moist."
During the forum, dozens of governmental officials and business leaders made vows to do more to conserve energy and preserve the environment.
"A `no-waste awareness" should be instilled in the public ??technological advances can also be used to develop more energy-efficient equipment," National Taipei University of Technology department of energy and refrigeration professor Chuah Yew-khoy (蔡尤溪 said.
The legislature will formulate new environmental laws and policies, including tree-planting projects and carbon emission reduction goals, Deputy Legislative Speaker Tseng Yuan-chuan (曾永權 told the audience.
"Ultimately, carbon emission reduction requires collaboration between governments, industry leaders, academics and the public," TSHRAE chair Tony Soo (蘇仲 said.
"If you don't change the way you think and behave, the result will be the same ??By doing small things like reusing your towels at a hotel, or setting your air-conditioner at a reasonable temperature, your efforts add up quickly," he said.