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Princeton professors' climate change game

NPR ran a piece on Morning Edition this morning about a climate change game that starkly lays out the challenges we face over the next 50 years. But there's a positive spin - part of the goal is to show that we have a lot of technology-based solutions already, if only we'd implement them on a scale that matters.

The piece is part of NPR's Climate Connection series, which is a joint effort with National Geographic to draw attention to the challenges the world faces in addressing global warming.

The game is being played not only by school children, but also by business executives. The goal is to keep carbon emissions flat over the next 50 years - not even reduce current levels - and according to those who've played, it's difficult.

Here's how it works:

The world's carbon emissions keep going up and up and up. This game takes the projected increase for the next 50 years and slices it into seven equal wedges.

You have to get rid of these wedges. And to do that, you have options. To be precise, you have 15 of today's technologies, such as fuel efficient cars or nuclear power.

Of course, to get rid of just one wedge, you have to scale a technology up. Big time. For example, Hotinski says, just consider fuel efficient cars.

"If we doubled the fuel efficiency of all the world's cars, projected 50 years from now. That would be one wedge," she explains. "So that's a really big undertaking, all the cars in the world, doubling their projected fuel efficiency."

Unfortunately, just doubling fuel efficiency isn't enough. Worldwide - and particularly in the United States - we have to reduce our dependence on the automobile for transportation. A robust nationwide train system is what we need, as well as congestion taxes and other incentives to reduce usage of cars and increase usage of public transportation. It's the only way. Our love affair with the car has got to end.

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