Reducing global CO2 emissions the easy way

by Solarevolution February 13, 2012 02:35

Reducing global CO2 emissions could soon become a lot easier. Our fossil fuel supplies are in rapid decline, and since humanity is doing so little to address this decline, in more graphic terms, we might call this "sticking our heads in the tar sand."

Climate change activists wring their hands about increased emissions:

What Will the U.S. Energy Mix Look Like in 2050 If We Cut CO2 Emissions 80%?

As if we have a choice! Reducing carbon emissions 80% is a given if total energy consumption worldwide drops 80% due simply to depletion (and not just in the USA; we’re all in this together). With aggregate oil, gas and coal depletion from existing fields already reaching 5% or more per year, this isn’t a flippant scenario. Resource depletion has hardly been mentioned in the climate activist community, but depletion is as real as climate change. 

Market penetration of renewables in 2050 may well be close to 100%. But that may not be such a happy picture, as 100% of then could be more like the 20% of now.

In 2050 our descendants are likely to be using a lot less energy, period. Will they be happy about that? Not necessarily. Between now and then, fossil water aquifers will also be severely depleted; exhausted fuel supplies will not likely be on hand to pump these exhausted water sources from the deep. Since producing meat is so much more energy intensive than vegetables, it may come down to a choice between meat for the few or veggies for the many. Think about it.

I fret about humanity's ability and desire to find alternatives to fossil fuels while there's still enough fuel left to build a robust civilization equipped to survive beyond the age of oil. It won't happen if we continue to invest in fossil-fuel-dependent infrastructure, hoping that a long term solution will magically land in our children's laps in 2050. 

Humanity has been kicking the can down the road for decades, in the USA since Carter. If we want our children and their children in turn to thrive, we in our time must begin figuring out ways to do a lot more with a lot less. I call that notion 10X. We are seeing solutions that use 10X less energy for specific energy services (light, mobility, …). These will actually bring us a better quality of life … if, and that’s a big if, we actually get busy to transform our society from oil to ingenuity

 Of course, it is just the opposite for energy-empoverished countries like Nigeria (with 12 watts average electric power per capita) or Afghanistan (with 1 watt per capita). These impoverished countries will have a better quality of life when energy use is 10X greater than it is today. Where energy use now is 100X to 1,000X less than in the OECD countries, an increase in supply of 10X would greatly help to create a higher quality of life.

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