Renewable energy will displace fossil fuels when (not if) it becomes as reliable, cheaper, and more convenient. The polls indicate that the latent market for renewables in already in place, with young Americans strongly supporting a transition away from fossil fuels.
The companies that develop cheaper and more reliable renewable energy and energy storage technologies will drive fossil fuel companies from the marketplace. Since Trump’s team won’t help, let’s convince them to end their attack on renewable energy and stay out of the way of the change that is on the way.
While Fortune 500 companies, our state and local governments, and foreign countries are all beginning the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the current U.S. federal government refuses to see the danger of climate change or the economic opportunities presented by modernizing our energy system.
The vast majority of scientists around the world agree that our climate is changing at a faster rate than ever recorded in human history because of our use of fuels such as coal and oil, so-called fossil fuels. The conclusion rests on basic physics known since the early 1800s, when physical scientists first recognized that carbon dioxide, then a recently discovered gas, could act as a sort of greenhouse, preventing heat introduced by the sun from escaping back into space – the “greenhouse effect.”
While President Trump has promised to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, China’s President Xi Jinxing has vowed to continue to tackle climate change and honor his country’s obligations. Will China become the global leader in combating climate change?
The market and government regulators are sending a message that is clear and ought not be misunderstood: people care about the environment and the quality of their air. If people did not support air pollution regulations they would not have cared about Volkswagen’s disregard of environmental law.
No one should underestimate the scale of the challenge that confronts humanity. It will require new technologies and changes in infrastructure, organizational capacity, economic incentives and public policy.
Humans have been burning fossil fuels for only about 150 years, yet that has started a cascade of profound changes that at their current pace will still be felt 10,000 years from now, a new study shows.
What protection can we fall back on when a giant, powerful, multinational corporation leads an effort to change the nature of reality itself and redefine scientific fact? The answer is of course, is the protection of other powerful institutions: research universities like the one I work for, the Congress, and, in this case, the New York State attorney general.
The fact that we are addicted to energy and still require fossil fuels should not be taken to mean that we couldn’t get off of fossil fuels while increasing energy efficiency. We can and we will. But no one is going to give up the current energy system until a cleaner one comes along that can match the cost and convenience of the energy we use today.