Feb 262013
The one way to slow devastating storms and reverse climate change is clean energy, and the only way to do that is to pay more for R&D.

We’re losing the war on climate change. And our best weapon is one we’re badly under-utilizing.

The world is in the midst of the greatest surge in carbon emissions it has ever seen. In 2013, the residents of planet Earth will likely emit around a billion tons more CO2 than they did in 2012, where in turn they emitted almost a billion tons more CO2 than they did in 2011.

The drivers of this surge of carbon pollution are simple. Around the world, 6 billion people are climbing out of what most Americans would consider poverty. Those men, women, and children–in Asia, in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Latin America–crave cars, larger homes, central heat, air conditioning, televisions, and mass-produced goods of all sorts. All of that takes energy. And what sort of energy do people choose? The cheapest kind available.

There are a host of proposals for how to address climate change around the world: a global cap-and-trade system, pervasive carbon taxes, renewable energy mandates, even geo-engineering schemes. All of those are worth pursuing. Many of them are yielding fruit today. But so far, they’ve proven very far from sufficient in tackling the problem.

There is one over-arching, unilateral strategy that would address climate change, without the need for global treaties or bruising fights with industry. It’s this: Make renewable energy so cheap that it hardly makes sense to use anything else. Make it cheaper to use solar and wind than coal or natural gas, and utilities and industry will switch. The larger the price difference is, the faster that switch will happen.

The potential is there. The Sun strikes Earth with thousands of times more energy than humanity uses from fossil fuels. The energy in just a few weeks of sunlight is greater than our known or projected reserves of fossil fuels, combined. Solar panels on less than 1% of Earth’s land area could meet all of our energy needs for the century to come. And the prices of solar panels are already plunging, dropping by more than half in the last two years, and by a factor of four since 2000.

Read more . . .

via FastCoExist – RAMEZ NAAM

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