Comments on climate change

I posted the following comments in response to a Mother Jones blog:


“I’d like someone to persuade me I’m wrong, though.”

A few points in attempted persuasion:
1) US carbon emissions are declining right now.  Some of this, no doubt, is due to the recession.  But some is also due to Obama’s significantly raised CAFE standards and his commitment of $90 billion to efficiency and renewable energy projects.
2) Conservative studies show that the US wastes roughly 20% of the energy it consumes, which means that a VAST drop in carbon production is available at NO COST.  Indeed, most studies show a significant RETURN on investing in energy conservation.  Thus, the premise that “It’s expensive to address” is at least partially false.
3) The economic cost of renewable energy — particularly photovoltaics and utility-scale wind have declined precipitously in the last few decades and are not close to parity with non-renewably generated power.  Moreover, worldwide production has ramped up significantly (the photovoltaic industry is in crisis right now because supply exceeds demand), which means that efficiencies of production due to scale are or will soon be available.
4) Combined with the infancy of the electric car industry, this could have MAJOR implications for the production of carbon in our society.
5) Finally, the costs of producing oil are now such that the price of oil is unlikely to decline the the levels which, in the past, have made these alternative investments appear to be uneconomic (thanks also to our willingness to ignore externalized costs).

In sum, there are reasons to believe that the economic interests against producing greenhouse gases in the future  will be more confined to particular industries (think Koch Brothers and Exxon Mobil) than to general world economic interests or even to the interests of the wealthy as a whole. In addition, there are now major economic interests on the other side of the equation (Google, GM, GE).  Since most of the resistance to making the necessary changes has come from the moneyed classes as a whole, this bodes potentially well for our future.

Clairifying the problems of Nuclear Power in the Green Mountain State and beyond