KINGSTON, Ontario, Jun 25 (IPS) – North America’s abject failure to meet the challenge of climate change has been “un-American”, environmentalist and scientist David Suzuki told delegates Tuesday at the World Wind Energy Conference, the first ever in the region.
“We’re facing an ecological crisis, a crisis far, far worse than Pearl Harbour,” Suzuki said.
Twenty years ago this week, one of the United States’ leading scientists warned Congress of the imminent danger of climate change and said that waiting decades to take action was too risky. Now James E. Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has published new research indicating that greenhouse gas concentrations have pushed the climate near a dangerous tipping point that will unleash far-reaching changes in the atmosphere and oceans that could take millennia to reverse.
100% Renewable Energy Can Power Nations experts say
To prevent a climate crisis, Hansen calls for deep reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, beginning almost immediately, including a phase out of coal-fired power plants by 2030.
A difficult challenge, experts say, but not impossible.
Suzuki reminded delegates that the U.S. responded to the enormous challenge of World War II and to the scientific and technical challenge 50 years ago when the Soviet Union put the first satellite into space, and then the first human. “The U.S. was so far behind, all its rockets were blowing up on their launch pads, but the country didn’t give up,” said Suzuki, a Canadian who attended college in the U.S. during the 1950s.
The U.S. has greatly benefited from that investment in space research many times over with new technologies such as satellites, cell phones, fuel cells, and many others. It also created the atmosphere that led to U.S. supremacy in scientific research. Taking on the climate change challenge would not only reduce the risk to the global climate, it would dramatically reduce dependence on fossil fuel energy, generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs and bring many technological benefits, he said.
And here’s the thing: Germany has already done the heavy lifting in terms of technical research and policy development. More than 14 percent of its energy is renewable, mainly solar and wind with some biomass. By comparison, 3.4 percent of the world’s electricity is renewable. Germany is a growing industrial powerhouse with 85 million people and will get nearly one-third of its electricity from renewable, non-nuclear energy in a decade, said a representative of the German Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
“Germany has more than 240,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector,” said Hermann Scheer, general chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy, an industry association based in Bonn.
He is broadly acknowledged as the driving force behind Germany’s renewable revolution. An energy policy expert, Scheer came up with the widely adopted idea of the “feed-in tariff law” that provides guaranteed prices for green energy, and “Scheer’s law”, that enables German households and businesses that generate renewable energy to sell it back to the grid at more than triple the normal market price.
Energy prices will climb as fossil fuels decline but global energy use has increased 50 percent in the last decade. This endangers the global economy and dooms developing world countries to spend all their money on ever-more costly fossil fuels. Scheer notes that energy is the world’s biggest user of water and says it is pure fantasy to think most African countries or other developing countries could build new coal-fired or nuclear power plants because they simply don’t have the water resources.
“Without energy, nothing works so humanity is inevitably headed for an era of bloody conflicts,” Scheer said.
That future can be avoided if governments make renewable energy their first priority. But nearly all believe “the energy lie” that renewables could never provide enough energy.
“It’s entirely possible that a country like Germany have 100 percent renewable energy,” he added. “We have done the studies to prove it.”
For full story see 100-Percent Renewables Not a Pipe Dream