The big trends for the climate seem to be at a turning point.
February was the tenth month of record setting heat and was not only the hottest February since records began but the hottest by the largest margin. Clearly it was an El Nino year which added a spike to the graph but it was still an ominous sign of things to come. https://bit.ly/1Urzuh8 Oddly this is happening as carbon emissions stayed flat while the economy grew. We are getting more efficient at using and producing energy to the point of a disconnect from productivity. That seems to make the argument that we can afford to deal with climate change without sacrificing economic growth. Here is a quote from Lynn Good, Duke Energy CEO-“Improvements in energy efficiency for buildings and appliances appear to have broken the traditional connection between electricity demand and economic growth.”
Success is a long process though. While CO2 emissions from energy use have been flat they are different than CO2 levels in the atmosphere which continue to rise.. We are still adding CO2 faster than the earth’s carbon sinks are sucking them up. We may be adding them slower but the damage done is massive and the reduction of emissions will have to be dramatic if we are to have any chance of slowing the inertia that is driving our climate change.
It is frustrating that with all the available success of renewable energy and efficiency and the potential in buildings and transportation as well as agricultural methods that can store carbon in the soil, that we are still not committing to a more aggressive approach to dealing with climate change. The economics are good and getting better as solar and wind and wave all advance as well as energy storage which adds both efficiency and resilience to the system. The related industries produce more jobs that are local and cannot be outsourced.
Similarly with home building we have managed to lower our per square foot energy use but at the same time we have increased the size of our houses as well as the number of households so our overall residential energy use is still climbing. https://bit.ly/1V1vD9b
The trends diverge and hopefully the momentum is in the right direction and gains speed.