Charles Crumpley, in his March 1st Comment column, stated: “Virtually every form of alternative energy today is either unproven, expensive, limited in capacity or dangerous in its own right.” This statement is dangerous in its own right and threatens our future.
Let’s look at the path we are on. The numbers are grim. To contextualize the statistics: When we compare the sum total of fatalities from all of the wars fought in the 20th century – the highest in the history of humanity at 160 million people – with the results of a midrange global climate crisis during this century, the latter will be of a magnitude of far greater loss to humanity. The estimated carrying capacity of the Earth is 4 billion people. In this past century alone, we tripled our population to 6 billion. By 2050, the UN Population Database estimates that the world population will reach 9.1 billion. At our present course, the extinction of half of all species, plants and animals, will occur by 2100. Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson estimates that the extinction of 25 percent of all species by 2050 will be due to global climate changes.
We are caught in a quagmire. As we meet the increased demand for food supply for this population, the resultant deforestation contributes 20 percent of the global CO2 rise, increasing greenhouse gases to unsafe levels. Our response to the global environmental challenges today will change the course of history. Crumpley fails to recognize the danger of continuing on this path.
Claims against green energy solutions are flawed. The global climate crisis presents to us a lucrative economic opportunity. Today, in the worst economy since the Great Depression, innovators abound: The Isle of Samso, Denmark, 10 years after declaring it will be fossil-fuel free in one decade, has done so; a fuel cell that can produce electricity from natural gas or biogas, at a cost of 10 cents per kilowatt hour, is in beta testing, and a few short years away from prime time; an invention to turn the CO2 of coal plants, combined with calcium and seawater, in a biomimicry of sea coral, to produce calcium carbonate cement and bricks, thereby sequestering carbon to never be released atmospherically, may be the answer to coal energy. The list of profitable innovations that will solve the global crisis is endless.
In addition, the renewable energy industry is not hindering employment, but rather, is the opposite: a massive job creator. Along with each new innovation comes an increase in profitability. The solar photovoltaic power price has been dropping so rapidly with each new invention that it will be at grid parity within five years. Solar thermal energy, though still in its infancy, is now only 4 cents more than the average grid price per kilowatt hour, without any of the risks of nuclear energy. Or, combining solar thermal with natural gas or even coal will immediately drop the price further. There are energy-efficiency assessments and changes to be made, solar panel production and installations to be conceived, solar thermal and wind power plants to be built and operated. …We are standing at the foothills of a Green Industrial Revolution.
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