Superstorm Sandy: Why We Need to Go Fuel Free

October 30, 2012 in Building the Green Economy, Climate Destabilization, Quipu Economic Forum, Renewable Resources, Zero-combustion paradigm by Joseph Robertson

A single massive cyclonic storm system, spanning from the Carolinas up through New England, generated a blizzard in Ohio and West Virginia, massive coastal flooding throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, devastation to the infrastructure of New York City—now under a federal major disaster designation—and has left more than 7 million people in 13 states without power. Superstorm Sandy was a hybrid weather system combining a major hurricane, a powerful storm from the northern Great Plains, and an Arctic cold front; of the escalating rash of superstorms of recent years, it was the most powerful.

This kind of interclimatic weather system convergence is the direct result of the destabilization of major climate bands, due to the steady and accelerating heating of the atmosphere. The incredible volumes of new water that poured into New York City and the wider region were pulled from the Caribbean, the Arctic, and the Plains. That massive dislocation of moisture will not be immediately noticed in intensely wet places like the Caribbean, but the vacuum effect that results from moving so much water will ultimately threaten reliable climate patterns.

There is no built-in climate mechanism for moving such huge volumes of water in the exact reverse direction. Sandy is more than a superstorm and more than a symptom of climate destabilization; it is one of the compounding impacts that will help to alter the regional climate prognosis in ways we have little precedent for understanding.

Specialized climate anomalies, like the protected El Yunque rainforest in the eastern center of Puerto Rico—which exist in part because three distinct climate bands converge consistently at this one point, generating a unique ecosystem and incredible biodiversity—may see their unique circumstances begin to unravel, if major climate bands continue to shift to other regions.

What we most need to stay focused on, however, is that we can do something about this now: we have had the technology, at least since 2009, to transition to a 100% carbon free, zero-combustion energy economy, in all sectors. We can move hundreds of billions of dollars in private capital into hugely profitable investments in new technologies, by deploying a simple corrective price signal for carbon-based fuels.

Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, along with the Virgin Green Fund, the Carbon War Room, the US Department of Defense and other entities, public and private, are already pioneering low-carbon and zero-emissions jet fuels, while Swiss-based Solar Impulse has already successfully flown a solar-only airplane for more than 24 hours without landing. The Bloom Box is already allowing us to re-imagine how ultralight battery systems can allow for industrial scale self-powering structures, transports and other operations.

Everything we do can be done better, more reliably and more affordable, with clean, renewable resources; all we need to do is reverse the negative externalization inherent in the fossil fuels sector, by sending a price signal to the marketplace.

The Carbon Correction Fee would be applied to any entity that wants to impose on American consumers and taxpayers the huge unfunded costs of using carbon-based fuels, and a Household Bonus check would be returned to every household in the United States, to make sure the cost does not get externalized back to the Main Street economy.

The steadily escalating fee will generate an unmistakable incentive for major private-sector investment in the cutting-edge technologies that will free the American and world economies from the economy-wide indenture of paying unaffordable externalized costs associated with burning fossil carbon in a failing energy market. Market correction with respect to the real value of our energy options is the only way we can reduce the risk of escalating climate destabilization and displacement of such immense volumes of climate energy.

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