Follow Up Links and Thoughts on a Greener Future
I came away very inspired by the Satellite Meeting in Galway! It was good to hear so many voices and committments to climate change mitigation and justice. While the problem is vast, the time short, and the costs immeasurable, there is cause for hope! First, the green technology revolution is real and is unfolding at tremendous speed. While some have said that technology is not the solution to climate change, I would argue that it is going to play the largest part. But don't trust me, follow the money!
1. Exxon Mobile, once the most valuable company in the United States, and the largest energy company is no more! It's been unseated by an energy company you have probably never heard of - Read all about it: https://qz.com/1933992/how-nextera-energy-replaced-exxon-as-the-us-top-energy-company/?utm_source=YPL
2. The costs of Solar Energy continue to fall, and efficiency and adoption rise. "For projects with low-cost financing that tap high-quality resources, solar PV is now the cheapest source of electricity in history.” So keep your activism on the policy of low cost financing for conversion to solar (and wind). https://www.carbonbrief.org/solar-is-now-cheapest-electricity-in-history-confirms-iea
3. Peak Oil, the moment when demand for oil starts to irreversibly decline is now upon us, far sooner than anyone predicted. The transition to electric vehicles and ever more efficient battery technology has already doomed the internal cumbustion engine, and with it big oil itself. Read all about it https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-peak-oil-era-is-suddenly-upon-us/
4. Peak Coal, in the United States, passed over a decade ago, and continues to decline globally with global peak coal estimated to be 2020. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=44115
5. Electric vehicles are here to stay and are taking over. Did you know Tesla is now worth more (by market capitalization) than many of the combined largest automobile manufacturers in the world ? Follow the money! https://www.statista.com/chart/22043/market-capitalization-of-publicly-traded-car-manufacturers/
and this from June (already dated) https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2020/06/11/why-tesla--gm--honda--ford--fiat-chrysler--daimler/
So thats the big good news! Zero emission energy is here and is taking over. Solar and wind are already the cheapest sources of electricty per kilowat hour, and the costs of implementation continue to fall. Whatever can be done on the local level to grease the wheels of this process can really help! Especially on the policy leval! Oh, and Joe Biden! Voting really makes a difference!
The challenges - Electrification brings its own environmental problems: Lithium mining, needed for batteries is a dirty business (although perhaps not compared to oil drilling), proliferation of Nuclear power to meet Green power generation goals, toxicity in the manufacturing and disposal of batteries, economic innequality making electric vehicles too expensive for many to afford, just to name a few.
Another serious environmental problem is the continued proliferation of plastics in all areas of packaging and manufacturing. Almost all of the plastic created in the world today is not recycled. Global recycling efforts at best manage to reuse only 10%. While household recycling of plastics has become widespread in the industrialized world, this river of recycled plastics most often ends up in landfill or the incinerator contributing to global warming. And plastic waste is often dumped on developing countries creating a significant environmental justice issue. And of course, plastic pollution is everywhere one looks, especially in the ocean, and has made its way into the food chain.. More on that is here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/17/plastic-recycling-myth-what-really-happens-your-rubbish#comment-132053729
So while it is admirable that people particpate in home recycling, what happens to that material after it leaves our homes is an important problem that ought to be addressed loudly at the policy level.
I hope you all find this interesting and helpful! I look forward to people adding to the discussion!
WIshing you all health and a greener future!