Monday, August 24, 2015

Nine Years of Climate Progress and Three Big Reasons to Celebrate - by Joe Romm

One measure of climate progress, at least online, is that the websites that push climate-science denial have totally fizzled out on social media, despite considerable effort.  Why? Science is inherently a social enterprise — an intrinsically interesting voyage of discovery in which scientists build on each others’ work toward a better and better understanding of the world around us.  Denial, being anti-science, is in some sense an anti-social activity whose goal is to stop society from listening to the scientific community about the ever-growing risks to society posed by unrestricted emissions of carbon pollution.  The deniers operate an inherently monotonous treadmill of anti-truth, misunderstanding, and disinformation that builds only toward nihilism.  No wonder it bombs on social media.

Of course there are far more important measures of climate progress — from China to cleantech to the Pope.

China and Paris
The game-changing November 2014 U.S.-China climate deal — where the U.S. pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 25-28 percent in 2020 versus 1990 levels in return for China for the first time committing to peak in CO2 emissions by 2030 if not sooner — helped break the longstanding logjam in international climate negotiations between developed and developing nations.  It resulted in a flood of commitments from other countries, which has created the genuine possibility of a breakthrough climate deal in Paris this December.
Cleantech Comes of Age
Price history of silicon PV cells in $ per watt (Credit: Bloomberg New Energy Finance & Click to Enlarge.
At the Department of Energy, I had a chance to work with leading scientists and engineers at our national laboratories.  I came to understand that the technology for reducing our emissions was already at hand and at a far lower cost than was widely understood — if we had smart government policies to drive those technologies into the marketplace and continue their march down the cost curve.  Then I worked with some of the nation’s leading corporations, helping them to adopt CO2-reducing technologies and strategies that boosted both profits and productivity.

Now, finally, it is clear to everyone that the DOE projections from two decades ago were accurate.  The price of solar by itself has dropped more than 99 percent since 1977 and 95 percent since the late 1990s.
The Pope
Finally, we have seen more and more opinion makers speak out on climate change.  Maybe the most significant among them is Pope Francis, whose recent 195-page encyclical has spurred a global debate about the moral urgency for climate action.  I would urge anyone needing motivation to accept and tackle the challenges we face in the years head to read it.

The Pope’s message is at its core a simple one:  “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.”

Read more at Nine Years of Climate Progress and Three Big Reasons to Celebrate

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