I'll get to renewable energy and why we'll survive the climate change apocalypse in a moment.
But first this...
I came of age in the 1990s. One of those grunge loving, flannel wearing Only Happy When It Rains types. I started my online life on ISCA BBS. It's of those telnet bulletin board systems in 1993 where you connected your modem to the phone system with blinding speed at 28.9Kbps and you heard the modem scream in pain with that traumatic connecting sound...you know the sound. Or maybe you don't. It sounded like this:
Ahh...that takes me back.
But not THAT far back. It was only 20 years ago. Since then the world has changed. The Internet in the space of that time went from relative obscurity to a national boom, to a national bust, to a national boom again and now it's killed Newspapers, changed the retail industry, crippled the US Postal Service, given TV a run for its money...meanwhile cell phones have crushed what was once a profitable and booming long distance calling industry.
Twenty years on and we barely recognize the world of twenty years ago. It didn't just pop up overnight. Prior to the 1990s there was a LOT of technological advancements that made it all possible going back decades. But once it got its footing.....that was it.
Renewable energy in 2014 is about where the Internet was in 1994. Cities and states have advanced the infrastructure. It's cheap. It's accessible. Most folks have a rudimentary awareness of it. You've got the geeky early adopters who have been using the stuff for decades to show us the ropes. And now the slightly less geeky folks like myself are putting up solar panels on their garages just for kicks. And lawmakers are paving the way for this new reality. And you've got Americans making a living in renewable energy sectors all around the country....in Conservative AND Liberal districts.
There is simply no doubt in my mind that 20 years hence, the way we generate power in this country will be a world different than how we do it today. Hell...in January of this year 100% of new power capacity came from renewable energy. And the same in November of 2013. And in March of 2013.
This really is just the beginning. Technology in the US has a landslide quality to it. One day it's kind of new. Then BOOM. It's taken over like a weed. We've seen this with cars. We've seen it with TV. We've seen this with computers. We've seen this with the Internet. We've seen this with cell phones.
And NOW we're seeing it with renewable energy.
There's no going back. There's no reversing the tides here. Holland Michigan and Grand Haven Michigan made power purchase agreements for wind power at 4.5 cents per kwh....CHEAPER than power from the 70 year old coal burning power plant in Muskegon (which will be decommissioned in 2015).
The technology isn't going to go BACKWARDS. It's not going to get LESS efficient and MORE expensive. It doesn't matter how much the coal companies pray for an unheard of miracle of reverse technological advancement. It's NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. We're going to keep seeing wind and solar prices drop like a rock.
In 2013 the Edison Electric Institute, a utility advocacy group, cited distributed rooftop solar as a "mortal threat" to the utility business model.
Why? Because Utilities are seeing growth in their product (electricity) FALL to less than 2% per year, and sometimes even venturing into the negative territory.
It doesn't take much rooftop solar to eat into that 2% market growth. To completely destroy it.
And today solar is CHEAPER than conventional power over the long term. And it's getting even CHEAPER. It's not going to go away. Hell, an Australian firm is starting to PRINT solar panels.
This is not a technology that's going away. It's just going to advance and advance and advance.
In a decade, you won't recognize the power production industry.
If I were to tell you in 1994 that the New York Times and newspapers and Television and the postsal service would be brought to their knees by the Internet, you'd have spouted some crap about entrenched money interests.
We're at the same spot with energy today.
I saw a Tesla in the parking lot of my local grocery store the other day. A TESLA. An electric car. I've seen at least one Chevy Volt per day for the past week. A different one! Different colors. I keep track.....watch them as they drive past and swoon.
ELECTRIC CARS!!!!! Just driving around as normal as you please....forget about it. Meanwhile gasoline is about four bucks a gallon!
TEN years ago, in 2004, wind power was barely on the radar. Iowa was just gearing up. Today they get 30% of their power from wind. Another ten years from now, you'll barely recognize the place.
I hate all this doom and gloom crap.
We are MOVING and we are moving FAST.
When the unimaginable happens and the fossil fuel industry crumbles, it will crumble hard and fast and overnight and in the span of a couple years just like the massive newspaper industry did and the world will continue to turn.
In addition to the technological and market forces coming to bear, Obama's goal of reducing greenhouse gasses by 30% is just another deterrent to fossil fuels. Hastening the nation's transition to long term, sustainable energy from the sun.
Climate change is real. And it will have disastrous consequences. But it won't be the end of us. Because we will avert it. We ARE moving in that direction. And we WILL head total disaster off at the pass. We are already in a massive paradigm shift in this country. In a massive global paradigm shift. And when the final change comes, it will come all at once and suddenly. And we'll be stronger for it.