Bringing billions of people out of poverty, feeding a growing planet and stewarding water resources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions may well be the largest challenge that humanity has ever faced. — Ramez Naam
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In Paris, December 2015, the great majority of the world’s nations agreed to make voluntary reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions, with periodic evaluations of progress. This is a remarkable achievement, as it marks a historic turning point in attitudes toward global warming. While there are definitely limitations and drawbacks to the agreement, it marks the beginning of possible real change in the way governments, corporations and individuals think and act in relation to the causes of climate change. You can follow the Paris conference going forward at Inside Climate News.
The nature and tone of this agreement herald a positive approach to the daunting task of reducing greenhouse emissions: rather than opposing destructive acts (although this must still be done), we now have the world’s leaders and history behind us to declare and promote positive actions across the board, from individuals to corporations and governments. As the possibilities for real progress in greenhouse gas reductions are made ever more visible, the viability and advantages of clean energy investment and development will become ever more apparent: for example, in high-capacity bulk battery storage to compensate for peak loads on the grid and the vagaries of wind and solar power. You can see a number of articles about new battery technologies at the Ramez Naam website.
We know that the shift to clean energy is a process, and just as the thousands of protesters, demonstrators, letter-writers and other activists helped bring about this climate sea-change, so we all can influence our government and corporations to tackle the most immediate and most effective changes, such as: replacing coal-fired power plants; shifting government subsidies away from the fossil fuel industries and toward renewable energy development and research; rapid growth of the electric car market, including the development of solar charging stations. Now is the time to redouble our activism, in whatever form it takes. Get plenty of ideas at 350.org and the Climate Reality Project.
The more we as individuals change, the greater impact we can have, especially as consumers. Broadly distributed solar power is an extremely effective way to change both fossil fuel providers and the functioning of the outmoded electric grid. Small changes such as eating less red meat, or using public transportation, or putting off that new car until absolutely necessary (and then buying electric or hybrid)—by changing our guidelines as consumers we begin to change the corporate mind.
History may be on our side now, but time is not, so we’d better get busy.