Global Warming or Climate Change — whatever you want to call it — there is a general consensus that burning fossil fuels are heating up the earth. Leaders of both parties are proposing a wide range of solutions to reduce and eventually reverse global warming. Whether it’s a carbon tax, planting a trillion trees, more nuclear power plants or just solar panels on every building, it is daunting to determine which solutions are most practical.
Whenever global warming solutions are discussed, I refer to a book called “Project Drawdown,” subtitled “The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.” The Project Drawdown effort was led by Paul Hawken and Amanda Joy Ravenhill, who gathered a diverse team of over 200 scholars, scientists, policymakers, business leaders, and activists worldwide to assess, map, and model the most substantive solutions to reverse global warming.
What I particularly like about Project Drawdown is that, for each potential solution, they consider the total atmospheric CO2 reduction, the net cost to achieve these reductions, and the net savings compared to business as usual. The plan includes 80 well-documented solutions in a variety of categories, including energy, materials, food, land use, women and girls, transportation and buildings.
Drawdown is not just a pie-in-the-sky plan that ignores economics, technology and politics.To alleviate your suspense, the top ten global warming solutions are refrigeration, on-shore wind turbines, reduced food waste, plant-rich diet, tropical forests, educating girls, family planning, solar farms, silvopasture and rooftop solar. Please check out the Project Drawdown book or online summaries, and listen to my take on these solutions on this week’s Energy Show.
The global warming crisis is a slow-motion train wreck that requires an all hands on deck response. Individuals, businesses and government all need to pull in the same direction to minimize the effect of this crisis. Unfortunately, our federal government continues to focus more on supporting the incumbent fossil fuel industry instead of the clean energy technologies encouraged by the rest of the world.
The good news is that leadership in many state and local governments are stepping up with practical, effective and affordable climate change solutions — and the City of San Jose is clearly a leader when it comes to implementing these solutions. A key component of the City’s efforts is the award-winning Climate Smart San Jose program. This community-wide initiative focuses on reducing pollution and improving the quality of life for San Jose residents. Basically, it’s the city’s plan to align with the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Our guest on this week’s Energy Show is Ken Davies, Director of Climate Smart San Jose. For over ten years Ken has been at the forefront of Silicon Valley’s environmental efforts. There is no doubt in my mind that the work he and his team are doing in San Jose will exceed our local goals for the Paris Climate Agreement.
Please listen up to this week’s Energy Show as Ken discusses some of the key components of Climate Smart San Jose, including electrification rebates, the Climate Smart Challenge, zero net carbon buildings, vehicle electrification, San Jose’s Reach Code, and 100% green electricity.
The Green New Deal is getting a lot more attention as we get into the 2020 Presidential election. The Green New Deal is a set of proposed economic stimulus programs in the United States with a goal of addressing climate change and economic inequality. The green part refers to renewable energy, energy efficiency, agriculture and related strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new deal part refers to social and economic reforms and public works projects, similar to what was undertaken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression (Civilian Conservation Corp, Civil Works Administration, Social Security Administration, etc.).
Author Thomas Freedman coined the Green New Deal term back in 2007. Taking up where he left off, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released a 14-page resolution for their version of the Green New Deal in February of 2019. Not surprisingly, there are strong political party line differences about the GND. There are even stronger generational differences about the GND. Without mincing words, Millenials see an existential threat to climate change — whereas most Boomers will be dead by then.
OK Boomer, so what should we do? For a youthful perspective, my guest on this week’s show is Kylie Tseng. Kylie is a graduate of NYU and is an activist for the Bay Area Sunrise Movement. Please listen to this week’s Energy Show as Kylie shares a Millennial’s perspective on the Green New Deal, and how everyone can encourage changes that will benefit both our climate and society.
As I record this radio show the temperature in San Jose is already over 100 degrees. So this week’s show is not just about the future hazards of global warming, but the fact that extreme climate change has already arrived.
I know that a hot day in San Jose is just a reflection of the weather – not proof of climate change. Weather is what you see outside on any particular day. Climate is the average of the weather over a period of time. When we talk about global warming, we are talking about changes in long term averages of daily weather. So a cold streak in March does not negate the fact that global warming is happening, no more than a hot day in San Jose is definitive proof that the planet is heating up.
Some people have reasons to believe that the earth is really not warming, that this warming is not caused by CO2, or that this CO2 is not caused by humans. Nevertheless, both short term and long term worldwide average temperatures have increased, and 97% of climate scientists believe that this warming is caused by CO2 in the atmosphere.
These temperature changes are not just academic; many locations around the U.S. have already exceeded a 2 degree C temperature rise. The Washington Post analyzed more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data in the lower 48 states. They found that more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions. 71 counties have already hit the 2 degree C mark. In LA County the average temperature rise was 2.3 C, Silicon Valley was 2 C, NYC was 2.2 C, and my home town in New Jersey was 2 C.
Although a few good things will come from higher temperatures (more farming in Alaska, etc.), the overall impact will drastically affect our society. Sea levels are rising, cities will have to move inland, warmer and more acidic sea water will reduce fishing, hot areas will become uninhabitable, weather will become more severe … the list goes on.
Once we acknowledge this problem, there are only two sensible actions: ADAPT to these global warming changes and MITIGATE the causes of worldwide warming. Please tune in to this week’s Energy Show for details of the extreme climate change we are already experiencing, as well as the actions that we can take.
The 2020 presidential election has been in full swing for months, even though it’s still only 2019. Are things going faster as I get older, or are we in a constant stage of electioneering? Hmm, don’t answer that.
With one notable exception, all of the presidential candidates have positions on climate change – AKA Global Warming. President Trump’s position is basically to deny climate change, mock renewable energy, pull out of the Paris climate accords (signed by every other country in the world except the U.S. … perhaps they know something that we do not), brag about the U.S.’s oil production, and futilely try to resuscitate the coal industry. Sometimes I feel as if I’m watching the Twilight Zone on my parent’s Magnavox black and white TV.
The Green New Deal has been proposed by a number of Democratic members of Congress. This plan is aspirational – the Green part is what we really need to address climate change, but the New Deal part is painfully lacking in specifics and realistic funding mechanisms. Jay Inslee’s “Evergreen Economy for America” is a well thought out plan that has a chance to meet our global warming targets. Joe Biden’s “Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice” is a little more political than practical, and may not provide enough funding fast enough.
Listen Up to The Energy Show as we cover the politics of energy and the environment, ranging from the Trump administration’s environmental agenda (some would characterize this as oxymoronic), the Green New Deal, Jay Inslee’s Climate Plan, and what it will take for our next president to get us on the path of limiting global warming to 1.5 C.
This past winter season has been the rainiest I have ever experienced in California. The good news is that the state is no longer in a drought condition. The bad news is that severe weather is occurring around the country. We are likely to continue on this trend: a polar vortex recently hit the Midwest, heavy snows on the east coast, and even Seattle was devastated with big snow storms. 2018 was the 4th hottest year on record globally. On average, the summers are getting hotter and the winters are not as cold.
But this is a show about energy — particularly solar. Although the output of solar systems can be predicted fairly accurately, weather has the biggest impact on annual energy fluctuations [side note: the biggest monetary fluctuations come from your local utility as they raise electric rates]. Several of our customers were concerned about lower energy output from their solar system in November, December and January. We pointed out that rainy weather — including smoke from wildfires — obscured the sunlight enough to make a noticeable difference in energy output. Even our customers who had battery backup systems contacted us, but for different reasons. Many of them had multiple weather-related blackouts this winter. These customers were delighted that their refrigerators, TVs, lights and heat were all still working even though their power was out.
While one cannot change the weather (unless your name is Dr. Evil), we can prepare for a changing climate. Please listen up to this week’s Energy Show as we discuss how weather impacts solar power system performance.
Barry Cinnamon has been blogging about the Solar Industry since 2007.
Barry hosts The Energy Show, a weekly 30 minute talk show that runs every Saturday at 1:30 PM on KDOW Radio AM in San Jose California.
Every week Barry provides practical money-saving tips on ways to reduce your home and business energy consumption.
Barry Cinnamon heads up Cinnamon Solar (a San Jose residential and commercial solar and energy storage contractor) and Spice Solar (suppliers of built-in solar racking technology). After 10,000+ installations at Akeena Solar and Westinghouse Solar, he’s developed a pretty good perspective on the real-world economics of rooftop solar — as well as the best products and services for homeowners, manufacturers and installers. His rooftop tinkering led to the development of integrated racking (released in 2007), AC solar modules (released in 2009), and Spice Solar (the fastest way to install rooftop solar modules).
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