Some of you may have read excerpts from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Candidly, I didn’t read the whole thing. Even the summaries were indecipherable. Which is probably a good thing since there is only one shred of good news in the whole report. More on that at the end.
The report — indeed, the entire process — has been depressing. We have had 20+ years of climate activism; many Inconvenient Truths; wildfires, floods, droughts; and now energy wars. Still, the economic interests from fossil fuels and related industries continue to overwhelm the necessary actions. Which is no surprise, since the solution to global warming effectively means the end of the fossil fuel industry. As a result of their logical economic interests, the world is simply not reducing the use of fossil fuels quickly enough. Atmospheric CO2 hit 421 ppm in April. Global temperature increases will be closer to 2.5C under the best of circumstances.
In order to keep global warming under 2C we need to do five things: put a high price on carbon, electrify everything, place high subsidies on renewables, place high subsidies on nuclear, and reduce methane emissions. The IPCC whitewashed these obvious actions, and instead recommend that the world just stop using fossil fuels (easy to say), find a way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere (consumes dramatically more energy than carbon capture at the source, which itself is not economical), curb demand of energy (which will reduce overall economic well-being), spend more money on clean energy (I agree), and tell rich people to use less energy (good luck). Unfortunately, there is no “how” there in these recommendations.
Instead, here are my five realistic recommendations that you personally can implement right now, all of which are practical and will have a direct impact on your quality of life.
- Make your home carbon negative with electrification, solar and batteries. You’ll save money and have a healthier and more comfortable home. Plus, it’s the best way to get back at greedy utilities.
- Buy renewable energy and electrification stocks for you and your children. In general these will be long-term winners. Sell your fossil fuel company stocks for moral reasons even though over the short and medium term they may do OK.
- Do not support climate-change denying politicians in any way. The same goes for politicians who support the fossil fuel infrastructure and rail against clean energy policies such as a carbon tax.
- Do not get a 30 year mortgage on coastal property. If you like the beach, buy a block inland or just rent.
- Eat less meat and more locally grown fruits and vegetables. I’m not sure how much impact this will have on global warming. But a good diet will help you live long enough to see that Al Gore was right.
The one shred of good news is that the economic benefits of renewables — solar and wind — will mean that these clean energy sources will indeed replace fossil fuels. Eventually. But not at a fast enough rate unless we put a high price on carbon. For more about the IPCC report, please tune into this week’s Energy Show podcast.