• Dec 5, 2012
Climate change was barely mentioned during October presidential debates, but that doesn't mean the public doesn't care. After all, climate change affected Hurricane Sandy, and that got some media coverage. Some analysts say climate change is just part of historic weather patterns that humans have little say over but most scientists say humans play a big part in the matter, in part through our increasing consumption of fossil fuels.

The power sources required for generating electricity play a large part in CO2 emissions, and it looks like that will be increasing. What would it take to change over energy power to renewables such as solar, wind or hydropower instead of coal or natural gas? Three experts on renewable energy recently published a letter in Nature that calls for an immediate moratorium on adding to the fossil fuel infrastructure.

Keith Barnham, of the Physics Department at Imperial College London; Kaspar Knorr, of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology, in Kassel, Germany; and Massimo Mazzer of the CNR-IMEM, in Parma, Italy, write in "Progress towards an all-renewable electricity supply" that they believe that solar could fuel all the world's electricity power plants as early as 2020 using existing technology, a little energy storage and subsidies that might be no higher than Feed In Tariff structures being used in Germany. The scientists also question whether Germany's drive toward renewables has been as costly as critics claim. They argue that it has actually brought down the cost of peak energy prices.

For Treehugger writer Sami Grover, it's a simple equation: reduce fossil fuel consumption and transition energy over to renewables. Grover writes," a huge part of the climate change battle is simply defining what is possible... We are learning each day how massively underpriced fossil fuels are in the face of the destruction they cause."

There are activists out there trying to do something about climate change, like protestors occupying power stations or "hack-tivists" tweaking Big Oil. Along with generating electricity, the climate change implications for cars are massive and play a role in several global automakers building fossil fuel reduction into their sustainability campaigns. Will all of this be enough? According to Grover, "It's time to aim big or give up." An end to expanding fossil fuel infrastructure certainly fits into one of those two categories, and it's not giving up.


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