Published on October 18th, 2020 |
by Zachary Shahan
October 18th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
There’s no doubt about it — understanding all the different components of our climate and why the Earth’s climate is so idyllic for humans is complicated. The theory of why greenhouse gases cause global heating is simple — those gases go into the atmosphere and then trap heat, sort of like how heat can enter the windows of a car but then gets trapped if the car is sealed shut, enough so that you could quickly melt a chocolate bar on your seat, start getting beads of sweat dropping off your brow, or worse. (Don’t try this at home.) But understanding the science of that whole process and the many effects that come from a heating world is quite difficult.
On the other hand, it’s really easy to learn the solutions and super clear once you do. Because they’re simple, and easy. Brad Rouse just wrote a thorough, detailed, scientific piece for us on how we become a 100% carbon-free society by 2050. Interestingly, this video below was pending for me to review for days right behind Brad’s piece, and it makes more or less the same points but in a very different way. It’s a 3 minute YouTube video that uses the techniques of modern, fun video production to try to get the point across in a broadly appealing, snappy, but informative way. I love it!
Here’s the description from the YouTube page: “Inventor and MacArthur Genius Grant Recipient Saul Griffith wants you to get excited about electrifying everything, and not just because it’ll create a cleaner, safer world. Running our energy system on renewable electricity will save every family in America thousands of dollars per year, create tens of millions of jobs and make our lives way more awesome. Learn more about Rewiring America and watch this video for more.” As you can see, the video comes from the great crew at The Years Project.
I’ll just add emphasis to a few points:
- Electrifying our cars can save us (and certainly society, which is also us) a ton of money because electric motors are 3–4 times more efficient than gasoline engines. That greater efficiency also comes with several user benefits, like a smoother drive and instant torque.
- Electrifying home appliances like stoves and water heaters also saves a lot of energy, and thus money, while improving the user experience.
- Solar and wind are now the cheapest options for new power capacity.
- We can have cleaner air, cleaner water, a livable climate, and save money while improving our user experience. It’s really that easy of a choice.
No, this wasn’t always the case. This wasn’t the case fewer than 10 years ago even. But the cost of solar panels has dropped off a cliff, and keeps falling. Similarly, the cost of wind power has come down a great deal. And, in a similar timeframe, batteries have dropped in price dramatically, enabling electric cars that have long range and are cost competitive.
We’ve published numerous news stories and deep, original analyses showing that solar panels can save many homeowners thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and that electric cars can also save people thousands of dollars over their lifetime (we normally assume 5 years as a timeframe, but the story is presumed to get even better if you hold the car longer, since the major savings come from lower fuel costs and less need for maintenance).
Electrifying your stove, your water heater, and everything else in your house may not show as high of savings — if at all. But these are relatively easy things to do and they will save money and help save lives.
Many, many, many years ago, humans learned how to burn things. That process has been used longer than we can comprehend in order to create heat, cook food, and simply see in the dark. We are now entering a new phase of human society, one in which we don’t really have any need to burn things for our energy and contentment. We’re at a strange phase of development in which relatively new technologies can be used to efficiently capture energy from the wind, the water, and the sun and turn it into electricity for our cars and appliances. We can stop burning things. We can drive on sunshine.
It’s a true wonder when you think about it.
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