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Symposium explores ‘clean’ energy sources

April 28, 2006 By Tom Sinclair

Notable energy experts from across the United States and as far away as France will consider energy-production impacts and choices at a symposium hosted by the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The symposium will be held Monday and Tuesday, May 8-9, at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison.

“Consider the Alternatives: Options for Energy Production from Non-Carbon-Emitting Sources” is the theme of the event, which features nearly a dozen speakers from government, academia and industry.

Stanley Bull, associate director for science and technology at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Mark Little, senior vice president and director of global research for General Electric Corp., will give keynote presentations.

“It is clear that we need to explore the development and utilization of new technologies and fuel supplies to protect the environment, achieve energy independence and strengthen Wisconsin’s economy,” says symposium coordinator Erhard Joeres, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering and environmental studies at UW–Madison.

Joeres says the prospect of worldwide climate change, especially global warming, resulting from human activity has moved beyond speculation to questions of how quickly it may occur and how high temperatures will rise.

“A key factor in climate change is the discharge of materials like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which creates the ‘greenhouse effect,'” he explains. “The combustion of carbon-based fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas is a major source of [carbon dioxide] — the primary greenhouse gas — and other substances implicated in a number of environmental problems.”

Other consequences of fossil fuel use include acid rain, mercury-contaminated fish in Wisconsin lakes and heightened occurrences of asthma, emphysema and other human illnesses, according to Joeres. And because there are no fossil fuel reserves in Wisconsin, every dollar spent to purchase them leaves the state.

“All of these are compelling reasons for us to pursue and develop large-scale alternative energy sources,” says Joeres.

The symposium will address current climate change, human and environmental health impacts linked to carbon-based fuels, and options, policy choices and political impediments to the use of non-carbon-emitting energy sources.

Joeres says the meeting is intended for policy makers, public- and private-sector energy and environmental professionals, educators, students and citizens.

Co-sponsors are the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Department of Engineering Physics, the College of Engineering, the Energy Institute and the Office of the Chancellor at UW–Madison; the S.C. Johnson Foundation of Racine; and the Energy Center of Wisconsin.

For an agenda, speaker biographies, registration information and additional details, visit

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