California Fires 2020, Climate Crisis, COVID-19 Crisis, Death Valley/California/USA, Reasons for climate hope, The Climate Reality Project, Transition to 100 percent renewable energy, Understanding Climate Change for Grades 7-12 by Laura Tucker and Lois Sherwood
It is hot here in California. On August 16th, a heat wave sent temperatures soaring in Death Valley to 130℉ (54.4℃), believed to be the highest temperature recorded on Earth in over a century. With a historic wildfire season threatening life and property, Governor Gavin Newson has declared a state of emergency. On August 24th, as reported by Cal Fire, the state has had 7,002 fires this year, burning over 1.4 million acres…and growing. At the same time last year, 4,292 fires had burned 56,000 acres.
Depending upon where you live, you are probably facing your own extreme weather-related danger. Given our climate crisis, this is our new reality as inhabitants on Earth. Though the COVID-19 global pandemic may have forced our climate activists off the streets worldwide, they continue to press for urgent action.
On July 28, 2020, The Climate Reality Project released a message of hope amidst all the chaos going on around us. Their article, “9 Reasons to Have Climate Hope in 2020,” outlines why we should be optimistic about attaining a just, sustainable clean energy future.
1. Coal is Burning Out, and Oil and Gas Aren’t Far Behind
Largely due to the increasing competitiveness of solar and wind energy, US coal-fired electricity output dropped by 18 percent in 2019, reaching its lowest level since 1975. American drillers in shale fracking, oil, and gas continue to operate in an unprofitable market thanks to government subsidies. Reports from Oil Price in 2019 and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) in 2020 indicate clear signs of weakness in the industry long before the COVID-19 economic crisis.
2. Renewables are the New Cool
In 2019, for the fifth year in a row, more renewable energy projects were installed worldwide than coal, gas, and nuclear additions combined. Even without government subsidies, America’s solar energy is now cost competitive with fossil fuel energy. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) predict that solar and wind energy will provide 76 percent of America’s new energy generation in 2020.
3. Efficiency is Everything
We have also moved ahead in reducing our energy consumption. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has estimated that in 2018 about $240 billion was invested in energy efficiency projects in the construction, transportation, and industrial sectors. With government climate action, these projects could account for more than 21.3 million jobs by 2050.
4. Electrical Vehicles (EVs) are Racing to the Front
The transportation sector is the second-largest carbon emitter worldwide. Many countries—including Canada, China, France, and India—have announced plans to phase out gas engines by 2030 or 2040. Many cities are also committed to electrifying public transportation. Projections also indicate that, by 2040, over half of all passenger vehicles sold will be electric.
5. Agricultural Solutions are Growing Fast
Agricultural production worldwide is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers are leading the way and working together to use regenerative agriculture by restoring vast tracts of land to store carbon. Even the US government got on board with the 2018 Farm Bill, incentivizing climate-conscious farming practices.
6. The Youth are Here and Their Mission is Clear
Last September, the global youth movement led a record-breaking strike worldwide with over 10 million participants. Some young adults are running for government positions to make a difference from within the halls of power. The Future Caucus Movement in the US is committed to helping young leaders to work together on issues like the climate crisis.
7. Businesses and Governments Support Clean Energy
Regarding it as a smart investment, many governments and multinational corporations have already made commitments to clean energy. Based on current data, 242 corporations have joined RE100, an initiative that brings together corporate leaders who have made a commitment to 100 percent renewal energy. The governments of Costa Rica, Iceland, Norway, and Paraguay are already at or near 100 percent renewal power. In the US, over 150 cities have made public commitments to transition to 100 percent renewal energy.
8. Educators are Making the Grade
The United Nations has called on countries to commit to climate education as part of its effort to combat the climate crisis. New Zealand already has a countrywide climate curriculum. In the face of climate science denial in the US and some parts of the world, teachers are working hard to increase climate science literacy. In Washington State and beyond, Understanding Climate Change for Grades 7-12 by Laura Tucker and Lois Sherwood (NSTA Press, 2019) is a valuable resource for teachers.
9. Natural Solutions are Looking Pretty
With environmental conservation and restoration, incorporated with smart land management practices, we enable Mother Nature to do what she does best in removing carbon from the air. To this end, tech companies are partnering with conservation groups to use drones to plant millions of trees a year.
In his address on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, Secretary General Angel Gurria of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said: “As we move towards the next phase of the COVID-19 crisis in many countries, governments have a unique chance for a green and inclusive recovery that they must seize—a recovery that not only provides income and jobs, but also has broader well-being goals at its core, integrates strong climate and biodiversity action, and builds resilience.”
Now is the time for us, the people of Earth, to embrace the changes needed for our continued survival on this planet we call home. We cannot go back to the way things were.