I think I've yammered on about the book Drawdown plenty already, but every time I read their proposed solutions, I find myself both enthused and frustrated.
Enthusiastic because all the technology we need to solve this nasty little climate change problem ALREADY exists. The solutions are out there, it's just the politicians who are standing in the way. It seems to me that the people who are in a position to implement large, sweeping change are more worried about covering their own backsides or too greedy to risk pissing off the large corporations who grease their palms.
So, yeah, that's frustrating.
Take the example of wind turbines. So these big ol' towering blades have been around for millennia. The earliest windmills on record were from around 900AD in Persia. And they were doing really well until fossil fuels sidelined them. However, the oil crisis of the 1970s renewed interest in wind energy and it's been surging since.
Denmark supplies more than 40% of its electricity needs by wind power. If the US wasn't so hindered by greedy corporations and politicians, the wind energy potential of just three states - Kansas, North Dakota, and Texas - would be sufficient to power the US from coast to coast.
Here are some other remarkable facts about wind energy:
Wind farms typically use about 1% of the land they sit on - they have a tiny wee footprint despite their colossal height. This means the land they tower over can be used for grazing, farming, recreation or conservation.
It takes less than a year to build a wind farm - the speed at which you can start producing energy means it's a quick return on investment.
Bloomberg predicts that by 2030, wind energy will be the lowest-cost source of energy, even before you take into consideration the cost of fossil fuels in terms of the damage they do to air quality, health, pollution, the environment, and global warming. To name just a few...
Wind power uses 98-99% less water than fossil fuel-generated electricity.
So what's holding it up? Why aren't we all using wind power already? Here's where the frustration comes in.
Shockingly, the hold up is money. I know! Who woulda thunk it?! Turns out, the fossil fuel industry receives more than 5.3 trillion USD in direct and indirect subsidies A YEAR. That's 6.5% of the global GDP, or $10 million a minute. That's a lot of money being poured into propping up an outdated, globally-damaging industry.
In the US, critics of wind power disparage it because it receives subsidies. When you understand how much money goes into subsidising fossil fuels, that's just a slap in the face. Even more so when you consider the following:
"Coal, gas, and nuclear power require massive amounts of water for cooling, withdrawing more water than agriculture - 22-62 trillion gallons of water a year."
Believe it or not, that's not even the horrifying part.
"Water for many fossil fuel and nuclear plants is "free," bestowed by the federal or state government... Who else besides the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries can take trillions of gallons of water in the United States and not pay for it?"
It seems blatantly obvious that fossil fuels should be phased out as quickly as possible and there should be heavy investment in alternative energy sources. It makes sense both financially and environmentally.
If, by 2050, we could increase onshore wind from 3-4% of the world electricity use to 21.6%, we could reduce emissions by 84.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide. On top of that, wind turbines could deliver net savings of $8.2 trillion over 30 years. And these are just conservative estimates - costs are falling annually and new technological improvements are quickly being implemented, increasing capacity while driving down cost.
As for what you can do personally to support wind energy... well, one of the obstacles across the globe is a "not in my backyard!" sentiment towards wind turbines. We need to stop being so superficial and show these big guys some love!
All the figures quoted in this post are from the book Drawdown, a truly eye-opening, hope-infused read.