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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Saving the Earth from Climate Change

Sunny-day flooding in Miami happens because of rising seas. Photo: B137, Wikimedia Commons,

George Harvey

Climate situation is rather like a fire in the kitchen. If you act on it right away, it might be possible to put it out with a fire extinguisher, but if you wait five minutes, you probably need to call in the fire department. The fire extinguisher approach is no longer tenable.

Now, having put off acting so long, we need to get very proactive about climate change. Unfortunately, the pace of climate change is far faster than most scientists envisioned. Five years ago, they described different scenarios for what would happen under climate change, including such things as how fast the ice caps on Greenland would melt. Today, those ice caps are at the point they expected for the year 2070. The government of the United States is not only doing nothing; it is in denial and trying to undo environmental protections. Instead of being proactive, it is in retreat.

Still there is hope. One article that is very specific about why there is hope was “Can We Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy in Time to Avert Climate Catastrophe?” published at Truthout. It looks into the work of Dr. Mark Jacobson of Stanford University. Ten years ago, he was coauthor of a seminal paper in Scientific American outlining a roadmap to 100% renewable energy. In it, he showed that we could rely 100% on a combination of solar, wind, and hydro power by 2030. Since that time, Jacobson has remained engaged on the issue.

Dr. Jacobson recently said he is feeling more optimistic, rather than less. He is very aware of the bad news, but he also knows that renewable energy from wind, solar, and battery backup, has become so inexpensive that natural gas plants, the least expensive fossil fuels around, are being closed because they cannot compete. There is no need for fossil fuels, and without a need, they can be eliminated.

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