Someday, U.S. electrical power generation may come from 100% renewable energy consisting almost entirely of wind and solar. But predictions of that happening within 10 or 20 years are unrealistic. There are simply too many obstacles standing in the way, among them: the massive investment of capital that would be required, the disruption of entire industries, technical challenges, and considerable societal and environmental impacts.
There’s an old saw in the trash business that says, “everybody wants their trash picked up but nobody wants it put down.”
That’s not a perfect analogy for what’s happening with renewable-energy projects in New York and New England but the sentiment behind it is familiar.
The urgency to mitigate climate change has pushed many to propose radical alterations to how humans exist on the planet. Some see the rapid abandonment of fossil fuels as essential to climate goals. This opinion certainly is at the core of the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14th) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) earlier this year – and supported by some Democratic presidential candidates.
In the wake of several major climate reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Government, climate change has taken center stage in American political discourse, encapsulated by — but in no way limited to — the Green New Deal. Many of the proposed plans for confronting the climate crisis stress the imperative of decreasing emissions by transitioning to 100% "clean" or "renewable" sources of energy.
If COP24 and its successors want to create lasting impact, rational thought and realistic appraisals of global conditions must prevail over ideological fervor.
Even though the outcomes of the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, are to be celebrated as a step in the right direction despite all odds, a somewhat bitter aftertaste remains.