The movement to address and resolve the mounting global crisis resulting from pervasive climate destabilization is not born of utopian fantasy; it is about dealing with and addressing reality, and doing it to the best of our abilities. We have the technology now to go 100% fuel free, but we are trapped in a vicious cycle of economic and political inertia that has prevented us from deploying the infrastructure to fully take advantage of clean energy technologies.
The false assertion that wind, sun and water do not contain enough energy to safely, securely and reliably power our economy is a dangerous mythological prejudice that is undermining our solvency and security, as a nation. We have far more wind energy than we can possibly harvest and many times more than we need. The solar radiation striking US territory every year is many thousands of times our total demand.
As early as 1991, the Department of Energy found that just three states—Texas, Kansas and North Dakota—had enough wind generation capacity, given the technology then available, to power the entire US electricity grid. By 2004, an updated study found that those same three states had, given the more powerful and efficient turbines then available, could meet 100% of national energy demand—electricity, industrial, transport and military.
In 2009, Mark Jacobson, of Stanford University, published a study in Scientific American that detailed how the United States could actually transition our entire energy production and distribution infrastructure to clean renewables, and do so affordably, within 20 years. Solar technologies are advancing more rapidly in productive capacity than any other source of energy in history, with cutting edge technologies emerging, such as:
- solar glitter
- solar paint
- printable solar PV film for paper or fabrics
- solar nano flakes
- nano-solar—nanotechnology allows for solar paint, printable solar, solar flakes
- solar-capture PV windows
- Solar Roadways
- Solar Impulse solar-only airplanes
- 24-hour molten-salt solar thermal
The only component missing from the real-world problem resolution we require is: how do we motivate funding to move to these far more efficient, quality-of-life expanding technologies, given the vicious cycle of economic and political inertia keeping us dependent on scarce, costly, high-impact pollutants? The inertia is rooted in the biggest market failure in world history: the failure of markets to accurately price carbon-emitting fuels.
We need to correct that market price failure.
We can do this, too, and we can do it without degrading the economic situation of the middle class, or of families, communities and small businesses. If we apply a carbon correction fee to carbon-dioxide-emitting fuels at the point of entry to our economy—the mine, the well, the port—then return 100% of revenues to households, we motivate a massive transition of capital to clean energy technologies, insulate consumers and non-carbon-fuel businesses, decentralize our energy economy, and rebuild the middle class.
We can go fuel free now. We can overhaul our entire energy economy, while moving more and more capital into technologies and industries that favor middle class job creation. We can break the vicious cycle of economic and political inertia that imposes massive hidden costs, and the more visible ones—like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha—and set ourselves on a course to a new future of clean, sustainable prosperity.
If you want to have a say in this transformational process:
The future is our responsibility. Only our best is good enough.
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Originally published Dec. 8, 2012 at TheHotSpring.net