Global warming, climate change and energy are frequently discussed, but poorly understood topics. The media frequently quotes presidents, prime ministers, scientists and CEO’s on these topics. Unfortunately, the message in the media is usually polarizing, placing people into the camp of climate change skeptics or climate change advocates.
Global warming and the impact on climate change is a scientific theory that is accepted by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community. Climate change advocates warn that if the global warming trend continues that our planet could face catastrophic consequences. In my opinion, this is a concern that can’t be ignored or dismissed.
Climate change skeptics argue that global warming and the impact on climate change is a still just a theory. Climate change skeptics will also argue that the earth has experienced periods of significantly colder weather or ice ages and significantly warmer periods over the past several hundred million years. Climate change skeptics argue that government mandated policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas targets will cost trillions of dollars and may bankrupt many global economics.
Each side of the climate change argument raise valid points and significant concerns about our future energy and environmental decisions. Unfortunately, our media is focusing our attention on the argument, not solutions. One of my professors liked to say, “don’t study for the wrong test,” prior to our final exam. His point was to focus our attention on the salient, significant points of the material, not tangential irrelevant facts. In my opinion, the polarization of the climate change argument is irrelevant to the topic of energy and our environment.
There are compelling reasons for America to rapidly move from fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) to renewable energy. In the United States, onshore wind, solar and hydropower can generate electricity for less money ($/kWh) than any form of fossil fuel or nuclear power even without any government subsidies. New technology has been driving down the cost of renewable energy and even lower costs are forecast in the future.
Fossil fuels are commodities and the price of any commodity fluctuates based on supply and demand. Fossil fuels are not renewable resources. Anthracite, the highest quality coal has been virtually mined out around the world. As a result, it takes more lower quality coal to generate power than from the highest quality coal. The cost of electricity from coal-fueled power plants is more than twice the price of electricity from wind or solar energy.
The word is consuming oil at record rates (1,150 Barrels of Oil per Second). British Petroleum (BP) estimate the world has approximately 50 years left of oil reserves. BP also estimates that the world has approximately 100 years of natural gas reserves. At some point in the not too distant future, the world will run out of affordable fossil fuels. The future cost for electricity from fossil fuels will only continue to increase.
Climate change skeptics recognize that fossil fuels do pollute the air, as citizens of major cities like Beijing, Los Angeles and Shanghai can attest. Moving from fossil fuel to renewable energy power plants and internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles will dramatically reduce air pollution around the world.
Over the past decade, hydraulic fracturing or fracking has increased America’s domestic oil production. However, America is still a net importer of oil. America has significant undeveloped renewable energy potential, which could eliminate foreign fossil fuel imports. Renewable energy could provide America with sustainable, reliable and affordable energy.
In my opinion, there are compelling economic and environmental reasons for our country to accelerate the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. In my opinion, this is the message which our media and our government should focus.