John Chait in New York Magazine, has a thumb sucker balancing between glory and despair about the upcoming Paris conference
For human to wean ourselves off carbon-emitting fossil fuel, we will have to use some combination of edict and invention — there is no other plausible way around it. The task before the world is best envisioned not as a singular event but as two distinct but interrelated revolutions, one in political willpower and the other in technological innovation. It has taken a long time for each to materialize, in part because the absence of one has compounded the difficulty of the other. It is extremely hard to force a shift to clean energy when dirty energy is much cheaper, and it is extremely hard to achieve economies of scale in new energy technologies when the political system has not yet nudged you to do so.This, and the displacement of harm in space and time of course make climate change the perfect moral storm as Richard Gardiner (echoed by Rabett Run) have been pointing out for many years. But there is reason for some hope
And yet, if you formed a viewpoint about the cost effectiveness of green energy a generation ago (when, for instance, Ronald Reagan tore the costly solar panels installed by his predecessor off the White House roof), or even just a few years ago, your beliefs are out of date. That technological revolution is well under way.The falling price of solar and wind have beat Moore's Law as applied to renewables, with the cost of installed solar now below $0.50 US per Watt, and, of course, the coal industry, the savior of the Breakthrough Institute/Lomborgian dystopia, has fallen into the toilet.
For most of the 1.3 billion people globally without access to electricity, building new solar power is already cheaper than fossil-fuel generation. And so, the possibility has come into view that, just as the developing world is skipping landlines and moving straight into cellular communication, it will forgo the dirty-energy path and follow a clean one. The global poor can create a future of economic growth for themselves without burning the world.Of course, Americans have to deal with the dysfunction of the Republican party on climate change.
That is the achievable — truly achievable! — task now before the world as its leaders gather in Paris. For the first time, countries are negotiating an agreement while both revolutions, political and technological, are under way and mutually reinforcing. The plummeting financial cost of renewable energy has decreased the political cost for leaders of the developing world.
Eli suggests the bunnies read the article and leave some droppings in the comments.