Part II: Solutions to stop climate change
If you have been reading the news, you might have heard that a new UN report came out painting an even bleaker picture of Climate Change and where we are headning than I did in my last article. Now 91 scientists from 40 countries agree that if global warming continues at the current rate, all of the world’s coral reefs will die by 2040. In other words, the backbone of life on our planet will die within most of our lifetimes.
The report states that in order to avoid the most serious damage, we must cut our consumption of fossil fuels by one-third in the next twelve years.
Is this even possible? The report notes that one important step is a carbon tax, which has already been implemented in some countries – most recently in China.
But first, we must stop subsidizing fossil fuels! I would guess that most people don’t even realize that taxpayer money is funding our continued use of fossil fuels – above $300 Billion In 2017 in fossil fuel subsidies, IEA Reports.When the IMF released its report that was 6.5% of global GDP. For comparison, at that time the amount of subsidies for all of the renewable energies combined was in the billions.
Clean energy is the only way
As we decrease our investment in fossil fuels, we must increase our investment in renewable, clean energy – wind, solar, hydro, tidal and heat power. Fortunately, there are big investments taking place, most visibly in the private sector, where billionaires like Jack Ma, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have all invested in a fund called Breakthrough Energy. The biggest focus of the fund is on storage, which is a necessary component if we continue to place most of our hopes on solar and wind – since neither can provide a base load.
Believe it or not, there is good news. At the start of 2018, as part of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, they announced that a fifth of the world’s electricity is now produced by renewable energy.
That’s partly because more wind and solar are being installed worldwide. Big developments in solar are hitting the market, like Tesla’s famous solar roofs, solar “skins” and wearable solar. But even with advancements, the most efficient solar panels are only able to achieve 22.5%.
Wind turbines are getting bigger and more efficient. We’re even sending them out to sea, like these floating turbines off the coast of Scotland, which will work even where the seafloor is too deep to mount stationary units. Hywind says its floating farm is operating at 65% capacity, which is quite a lot compared with the average wind farm capacity of 30%.
We must invest in heat power
As we continue to invest in solar, wind, hydro and tidal power, we must simultaneously make an even larger investment in heat power. Heat power has the greatest potential to replace fossil fuels, contribute in reducing CO2 emissions and by that reaching SDG7 and reverse Climate Change. Unlike solar and wind, it is 100% efficient. It can provide a baseload power supply anywhere in the world.
Heat power can be created from the earth’s geothermal heat, or from the waste heat generated in industrial processes like cement and steel manufacturing. It can even be harnessed from ship’s engines. New, modular units can be operational within months.
If we spent as much money on implementing heat power and other clean energies as we spend on global subsidies in one year, we could stop global warming.
The time to act is now
As you can see, there are solutions to stop Climate Change. We just have to start applying them. The latest UN study was not only bleak in its predictions of the accelerated damage due to climate change, it also suggested that governments will not intervene swiftly enough. I am more hopeful, but I believe it will require us all to take action. In my next article, I will tell you how.