Thanksgiving for Environmental Actions
While many (most) environmental articles are negative, there is yet an abundance of research, knowledge, education, plans and commitments to solve these problems, especially climate change. We can celebrate these for Thanksgiving.
First of all, the system of life, which has covered every niche of the planet with amazing adaptations and changing chemical processes, has a resilience and capability to repopulate that can be drawn upon. While mankind has been deforesting and altering the planet for hundreds of years, we have only been seriously generating greenhouse gases and changing the planet for less than a hundred years. With the explosion of population and polluting fossil fuel growth, we can’t continue for another hundred.
We have a growing wealth of climate scientists around the globe, and the younger generation is developing ecologists and concerned citizens to support and solve these problems.
All of the nations have been gathered together in the Paris Climate Accords, with only a few going through hopefully temporary conniptions. Most nations are reacting negatively to population flows of refugees caused by climate change. Somehow, this will eventually lead to awareness that climate change must be slowed and halted. The increasing costs of natural damage being enhanced by climate change is also a strong motivator. Eventually, the world economic and insurance systems catch up with this, and price them in appropriately.
Many of the countries committing international ravages (Rio and the Amazon rain forest) depend on tourism for income and support. Even without international action, climate concerned world citizens can vote with their airline tickets and tourist dollars not to go to these nations. We are evolving to a labeling system for all food products, which can allow us boycott food grown or grazed on Amazon farms.
COP 25 on Dec. 2-13 in Madrid, Spain, will discuss new goals, and countries will decide on their new commitments next year. Their focus this year is on the oceans.
Worldwide, most people in cities are exposed damaging air pollution, dominated by coal fired power plants. As people strive for better health as well as economic advancement, coal plants will be replaced by renewables, natural gas, and nuclear.
The advancement in research, development and production of renewables solar and wind power is driving down their prices remarkably, and they are becoming competitive with coal in price. There is nothing like economic competition to drive progress, independent of good will. This has led to the rapid decrease of coal power in the US.
When people realize that the long term cost savings of more efficient electric motors and electric cars, we will see shifts to 50 mpg hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all electric cars. With low interest rates, the higher initial cost of hybrids or electric cars can be financed to give the overall financial savings. This has already become available with rooftop solar.
Even in the temporarily derailed federal efforts in the United States, the California and New York led coalition of 23 states, almost half, contain a majority of electoral votes and therefore population, dedicated to efforts to match the Paris Accords. They are fighting in the courts for their own advanced CAFE fuel economy standards, which will heavily influence the entire auto industry. Transportation is the leading greenhouse gas and air pollution source. In addition, many of the cities in Republican states are also committed to cleaning up greenhouse gasses, as well as the population, and companies concerned with their reputations.
These states and environmental organizations are suing all of the anti-environmental and exploitive actions of the current US administration to restore clean energy plans, as well as true science standards in regulations, as required by law.
The many US and worldwide environmental non-governmental organizations have a large role in education and actions to forward progress on conservation and climate actions.
It is a pleasure to live in California, which is a leader in the US for environmental action. Our goals even exceed those advocated by the UN Environmental analysis to keep global warming to 1.5ºC over per-industrial times. We also have the solar, wind, and hydro sources, as well as neighboring state plants, to accomplish this. Natural gas is still needed to balance fluctuating renewables, as well as eventual neighboring nuclear for base power. Our natural gas plants are almost all the highest efficiency combined cycle plants.
While we in California are able to provide an example of decreasing air pollution and greenhouse gas pollution, we are only about an eight of the US population, and therefore solving only 1-2% of world greenhouse gas emissions. We also have to develop solutions for the developing and undeveloped areas of the world. Then we have to balance our remaining emissions with contributions to worldwide emission credits.