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Originally published in Interiors & Sources

09/09/2013

Climate Change Kills Coal, Vaunts Solar

Data suggests there are several opportunities on the horizon – literally

By Eric Woodroof, Ph.D., CEM, CRM

 
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We should prepare for major changes in the energy industry – changes much bigger than the current debate on utility fuel transition from coal and/or oil to natural gas.

I attended an August conference sponsored by the Climate Reality Project (www.climaterealityproject.org) and got updates on climate data and startling energy trends. Since that meeting, I have confirmed these claims with research from major sources such as Reuters and The Economist.

There are new facts about our climate for you to consider, no matter where you live. Some of them are depressing, but by understanding the situation, it is possible to see opportunities for prosperity. For example, the true value of solar grid parity is apparent, and you’ll see that’s good news.

Climate Facts

July 2013 was the 341st consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. Every national academy of science in the world endorses that climate change is real and man-made. It is compelling that in over 30 independent sovereign nations (some that have current conflicts with each other) the overwhelming majority of scientists agree that climate change is anthropogenic.

Since the industrial revolution, humans have been burning progressively more fossil fuels – effectively transferring a massive amount of carbon (and other material) from below the ground into our skies. Since 1800, we have increased the CO2 in our planet’s atmosphere by 43%. Carbon dioxide concentration hasn’t been this high for at least 3 million years, so it’s difficult to estimate long-term impact on humans and the world.

Local air pollution in Beijing (40 times greater than the “safe level”) has lowered the expected lifetime by 5 years. Public outrage has motivated the Chinese government to react. In June 2013, China started its first formal carbon market, resulting in cap and trade laws in many areas. This is no small venture – during the next 5 years, China plans to spend $275 billion to clean its air. This amount is equivalent to the GDP of Hong Kong, and twice the size of China’s defense budget. China has already improved the average efficiency of its coal-fired power plants to 37%, while the U.S. average remains at 33%.

Worldwide, climate change has already begun to generate more extreme weather events that cause property damage, agriculture losses, and migration of diseases. Each year, environmental catastrophes around the world are measured in hundreds of billions of hard dollar losses. And we are only beginning to experience the impacts of climate change.


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