We’re going to write the obituaries of many 20th century glaciers before 2050, as they disappear from warming temperatures. The OK glacier in Iceland is just the latest, disappearing over the last 30 years, leaving nothing behind but a lake. This week, Iceland unveiled a plaque for future generations to see. It’s worth reading and a real punch to the gut!
Global Warming: Who’s to Blame? Maybe it’s all of us? Or only the oil, gas and coal companies? Based on the dozens if not hundreds of lawsuits that have been filed by state’s attorney generals, citizens, young people and other aggrieved or merely greedy parties, you’d think it’s ONLY the purveyors of fossil fuels. See if you can find your point of view in this week’s blog.
For real action on climate change, we need today’s students to step up in a big way. My favorite quote of late is from a teenage coordinator of Extinction Rebellion, Sophie Anderson. “It’s not our job as high-schoolers to come up with solutions to climate change. We’re not the ones with the answers. We just want people to take action.” Today’s mid-teenagers will likely be alive and retired in 2075. There’s no question that they will be living in a world hotter, more disease-ridden, and more dangerous than we live in today. Would you blame them for being really, really angry at that prospect?
Do we need a moonshot to deal with the climate crisis? Here we all were, celebrating last weekend the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Along with 600 million other people, I watched it live on TV in July of 1969. Yup, folks, “we” did it! From takeoff of the moon program (when President Kennedy set out the goal), to successful landing (and return) of two men took less than seven years. Why can’t we do the same with decarbonizing the U.S. (and world) economy?
Climate change in the form of global temperature rise about 2C might be “locked and loaded” into the global electricity system already, according to a new study of projected power-plant emissions. We do not yet recognize how dramatic the shifts are that are required to keep global warming in check. The kids are right - we are rapidly flying into the clouds of a climate crisis, a time of unimaginable turbulence, without our seat belts fastened.
Think about it: 40% of Americans live in coastal counties. With rising sea levels and greater damage expected from storms, hurricanes and wave surges, much of coastal America will be in growing danger. Each year, predictably and unpredictably, the sea will inundate low-lying coastal areas. Rising sea levels will affect billions of dollars in real estate, destroying some of it and devaluing much of the rest.
The climate emergency is rewriting human history, year by year. We no longer have a choice between preventing massive climate change and putting adaptive measures in place - we simply must do both, with a speed that has never been seen in political, social and economic affairs. That requires a massive public education program by all professions and a massive commitment to training millions of professionals in new strategies for zero carbon design and climate adaptation/mitigation engineering.
Joe Biden released his Climate Plan this week, to mixed or tepid reviews. At what point will he advocate stripping the fossil fuel industry of all tax advantages and start asking everyone to pay the true cost of carbon emissions? A carbon tax means pain for all of us, and the last thing politicians want is to promise you pain! The vague promises of “making the polluters pay” ignores that our entire economy is still predicated on the promise of cheap, readily available and abundant fossil energy. The Clean Energy Revolution needs to be completed by 2030, not 2050, as Biden’s plan promises.
Two weeks ago, Washington Governor Jay Inslee introduced a plan to address the Climate Crisis with an “Evergreen Economy Plan.” The plan proposes to “catalyze” $9 trillion of investment over ten years — with at least $300 billion in average annual federal spending leveraging approximately $600 billion in private and local government investment each year. Inslee’s plan is detailed, thorough and feasible, but has received little public attention.
A more efficient Trump Tower? Three related stories caught my eye in the past two weeks. First, New York City mandates energy efficiency upgrades at all tall buildings, including Trump Tower (lawsuit against the mandate to follow?); second, Amory Lovins is back with another paean to energy efficiency, a drum he’s been banging for 40 years; third, renewable energy mandates are incredibly costly compared to efficiency upgrades.