"Given the state of the planet," writes 350.org founder Bill McKibben in his new feature piece for In These Times, it would have been ideal for the world to have fully transitioned its energy systems away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable sources "25 years ago." But we can still push for the "second best" option, McKibben concludes. To do so, we must move toward wind, solar, and water "as fast as humanly possible."
Zero Population Growth … actually need huge negatives there !!!#
And business as usual will prevail …
It may be feasible to have 100% renewables for electricity generation within the next couple of decades. Making a transition in the transportation sector will probably take longer. The transition for heating will also likely be slower. In any case this transition to renewables must be speeded up considerably to make a real difference in limiting global warming. .
Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, Democrats need to win next time. Hope it is Progressive Democrats.
First off, ignore the Koch brothers’ hired corporate troll, above. The troll business writes extra-long stuff to push the real messages way down the page so more people won’t get that far down.
Now, Mr. McKibben wants “As fast as humanly possible”. Here’s how to do it! Yoo Hoo, Mr. McKibben!!
We need a committee in charge of practical renewables/climate R&D. We’re looking for “bleeding edge” innovations that for some reason don’t quite register on the megacorporations’ short, short time scale.
Previous good examples: Photovoltaic electricity used to cost 100 times as much as oil-fired turbine electricity. U.S. researchers had to bring down the cost. Rhode Island had to put five wind turbines in the water offshore, at a significant short term cost to the state, to show that offshore works on the East Coast (smart state!) Denmark already as built up a long lead in the offshore wind field, and continues to reap a huge national standard of living.
Where we’re going now:
–Solar-based building heat
–Better solar greenhouses
–More robust heliostats for better daylighting
–Solar thermal-based electricity so that we can store power for nighttime and cloudy day use
–Many transit inventions
–We have to put carbon in the ground. Climate change is now a positive feedback loop regardless of what humanity does. We must fight this forest fire and soon.
–We equally have to disable other greenhouse gases such as methane and NOx.
–Ecologically benign ways of restoring the Arctic Ocean’s 14 foot thick ice pack. Yes, ecological solutions exist and they’re affordable! (Don’t smear the ecologically balanced plans with any of the ecologically screwball schemes out there, please. Would you like it if you were smeared with schemes that the fracking industry puts out?)
–We must protect God’s critters from extinction. If Noah was asked to do it, we should do it too.
Next we need to go to 500 friendly but skinflint universities and demand that they perform the vital research, not junk. We must also go to 1000 greenwashing corporations and find a few that will walk their talk. We also have many dozens of regional, state and national governments who occasionally are wise enough and intelligent enough to go out on a limb and win fame, jobs and prosperity for their own citizens. We need activists to do this lobbying.
That’s the plan. R&D is at least ten times as powerful per dollar spent as any other climate-solving strategy, including massive political lobbying, although as you have just seen, sometimes the two have to go together.
Yes, I have read “Drawdown” by Paul Hawken. The book makes a horrible error in not looking at future R&D strategies, but otherwise I admire the committee approach to comparing technologies.
Congratulations, you have just won the award for the most ignorant post ever on Common Dreams
Forget about calling AGW a hoax, extractive means of fuelling energy are limited by the fact that there is only so much to extract and it is therefore not sustainable. Unless you want to live in a landfill or an abandoned pit mine, at some point you have to start thinking about sustainability and recyclability, else your grandchildren will live in a Republican/Libertarian dystopia. But hey, enjoy your selfish present. Hope a pipeline pours some Exxon/BP/Chevron quality goo in your NIMBY.
As for innumerate, if you look at all the land that has been ruined by oil drilling, pipelines and hard rock mining in the US, I’ll bet you’ll find it’s way more than anything needed for renewables (which can coexist with grazing or fishing).
Nonsense, I powered my sailboat with a wind generator and solar panels that provided all the power I needed. Local generation without the transmission losses is the most effective way to go. Americans just need to earn how to conserve and get by with less…basically not being so self-centered and greedy.
Get with the program. If Germany can do it…oh, wait that’s right they also have universal healthcare and other good stuff. BTW if you like your tuna and swordfish, most of the mercury in them comes from your beloved coal. Mercury levels have only been increasing and will continue to increase with the continued burning of coal. Of course, if you want a population who can’t think because their brain has been addled by mercury, hey, coal’s your boy.
But none of this information matters.
Trump is Hitler!!!
The state of South Australia, which has extensive wind and PV solar power generation, has just decided to install the world’s biggest grid-connected battery to provide grid-stabilisation and back-up for its intermittent generation capacity. They’ve done a deal with Elon Musk. There is also to be a large molten salt thermal solar plant by 2020.
Our national government is hopelessly compromised and cowed by the fossil fuel lobby, and internally paralysed and pitiably conflicted by climate-denialist, right-wing religious zealots. There is negligible leadership or legislative support for renewables. (To get an idea of how corrupted Australia’s energy decisions are put “Adani Carmichael coal mine” in your search engine!)
When South Australia had a state-wide prolonged power outage after massive storm damage to transmission lines the national Government and the coal industry were quick to (falsely) blame the intermittent nature of wind and solar, and they persisted in this outright lie for months since. Ironically it was this false attribution, and associated lies about the reasons for high electricity costs, that spurred the State Government to go-it-alone and make massive investments to gain independence from the restrictions and perverse rules of our national electricity market.
Profits pervert and profiteers sabotage here as in the US, but individuals, companies and at least one of our states are none-the-less forging ahead with investment in renewables in spite of outright opposition from our Federal “leaders”. Hope in bleak times.
It all matters, and the problems will be solved in spite of Trump.
We need to eliminate at least 90% of emissions in the next 5-8 years or we face exponentially rising risk of utter collapse of civilization and the biosphere. No population solution can possibly have an effect in that time, although we should do what’s already proven to reduce population growth. Equality, education and empowerment for all especially women, security in hard times, sickness and old age are good things anyway.
The poorest half of humanity emits only 7-10% of human GHGs; the poorest 6 billion people emit only about 20%. The only population growth still happening is among the poorest, and the growth rate is coming down rapidly as it has been since the 1960s. This and almost every other part of the environmental crisis is being caused by the rich. (us)
Well, the problem with this article making nonspecific arguments is that it lumps the best technologies in with the worst.
Yes, measuring Energy Return On Energy Investment (EROEI) is a good idea. We’ve seen our share of various fake green technologies. Alkafuel from heavily fertilized and pesticided GMO corn uses something like 0.92 gallons of fuel to create 1 gallon equivalent of output fuel. Nuclear power uses more energy than it creates if we count the energy that should be used in developed country disaster cleanups. The world has a bad habit of clear-cutting an old growth forest, then putting in a bunch of four inch tall tree seedlings and claiming that they’re taking carbon out of the atmosphere by planting those trees.
I tend not to push the mining-heavy technologies. Solar heat storage can be dirt cheap if you’re using dirt as the heat storage medium. A rock bed will last as long as the building that I want to heat in winter, once it’s built. I do have to watch out for mold, dust and radon, but my prototype is getting around that engineering problem.
According to Scientific American, coal provides less than 30% of the country’s energy production and that is rapidly dropping despite Trump’s attempts to turn back the clock!
New generation wind turbines including large scale off shore facilities make mockery of your old figures from even 5 or 10 years ago. The end of fossil fuels revolution is speeding ahead despite the Trumps and mcsillybug trolls like you!
As before >>> do some current research instead of citing out of date figures! Sheesh!
”Taking up land” is a relative thing. 98% of the land ”taken up” by wind farms can be used for other things. Once land is taken up by a solar, geothermal, hydro or wind facility it supplies energy indefinitely without expansion. In fact, as improvements are made old technologies can be replaced and the same amount of land will supply more and more energy. Fossil and fissile fuels, otoh, severely degrade an ever-expanding area of land (and the land and water around it and even far distant land, water and air through pollution). That damage can last millennia, even millions of years, or in the case of MTR and extinctions they cause, forever.
The damage even accelerates, because poorer ores are resorted to as the ”best” ones are played out. The same is true of offshore oil wells and other extraction methods and substances—fracking is a reaction to using up most of the gas and oil, as are metapetrolic fuels like tar sands, gasified and liquified coal, etc. They cause damage at an exponential rate of increase as their EROEI is also much less than oil used to be. At some point the EROEI is 1:1; it takes as much energy to get the resource as the resource provides. Insanely, because of profit, subsidies that go 10-13 times more to fossil and fissile fuels than renewables* and externalities that are even larger and more restricted to fuels, we often keep extracting fuels at less than 1:1, causing land loss, incredible health and ecological damage, inequality and the degradation of democracy, and for absolutely no purpose!
And that overstates the case because most of the so-called renewable subsidies in the US have gone to corn ethanol, neither renewable nor sane, as it already has an EROEI of about 1:1.
All the lies of the Denialati and their trolls don’t change the truth.
Our goal has to be 100% renewable energy. Some parts—concrete, steel, shipping, trans-ocean flying—will be harder than others and take a little longer but every problem is probably close to being solved (15 years at most) and meanwhile, we need to eliminate more than 90% of fossil fuel use afap plus sequester carbon and reduce other harm through forestry, agriculture and industry changes, under the umbrella of a US-WWII-type citizen and industrial mobilization. McKibben, Bernie Sanders and the Democratic platform all endorsed this but at levels far too slow to avoid cataclysm. We’ve failed to capture power in the US by electoral means and the right is strengthening its position all the time it’s in power. We need a peaceful revolution to finally have a democratic government that will respond to reality and the needs of the people and the Earth.
It is easy to spout propaganda and brainwash the masses. This kind of BS has been going on since the Raygun administration at least. I found some other sources that refute your right-wing sources:
“If solar provided one-third of Americans’ electricity in 2050, it would require just 4,000-11,000 sq-km. In other words: with an area no larger than the amount of land currently devoted to golf courses, we could power a third of the country with solar energy.”
"Powering one-third of the country in 2050 with wind farms would thus truly impact only on the order of 2,000 sq-km, of which less than 700 sq-km would be permanently removed from production.
That’s an almost trivially small amount of land, equal to only 7 percent of the land area wasted, er, devoted to golf in this country."
Also see the following:
A bit of BS here. Fly ash is a natural result of burning coal, the residual part.