In Case You Missed It – May 15
“In just the first four and a half months of this year, America’s fleet of wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric dams have produced more electricity than coal on 90 separate days — shattering last year’s record of 38 days for the entire year. On May 1 in Texas, wind power alone supplied nearly three times as much electricity as coal did.”
A decade ago, coal produced nearly half the nation’s energy. Although reduced consumption due to COVID-19 is part of the reason for coal’s recent decline, it was on the way out regardless. The grid is changing quickly, renewables are expanding and wind and solar generation are still expected to grow this year despite the impacts from COVID-19.
Inside Clean Energy: With Planned Closing of North Dakota Coal Plant, Energy Transition Comes Home to Rural America
Speaking of closing coal…
“It’s one of these cool win-win-wins that you don’t often get to see in working on energy issues,” said John Farrell, a co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis, an advocate for giving communities and consumers more control over their energy production.
Coal Creek Station is closing in North Dakota by 2022. Why? Because coal plants are expensive to operate and the people are demanding clean energy. But the coal plant isn’t just closing its doors and calling it quits. It’s making the transition to renewable energy (mainly wind). Moving to renewables isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the cheapest. The cost of operating coal is getting higher every year (and no, not just because of the pandemic) and these big coal companies look to one another for guidance…so if one makes the switch to renewables others might follow.
Are you sensing a theme yet?
“Are individuals enough? No, when it comes to climate change or energy use. Are individuals required? I think yes. … And I’m not just saying individuals decreasing their energy use, but individuals going from the personal, which is changing their energy use, to the societal.”
Climate change is big and complicated. Energy use is big and complicated. Personal values and beliefs are complicated. As a climate communicator, if your carbon footprint is too big, people won’t listen to you––and they also won’t listen to you if it’s way too small (we don’t want to feel bad about ourselves, right?). What are we to do? Well, in this piece, Attari quotes Arundhati Roy saying, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our databanks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” Which is to say, pause, wipe away that tear (yeah, we cried a little too over that quote #sorrynotsorry) and keep doing the work. In Attari’s most recent study, she’s finding that conservatives and liberals alike want a green future. We’re in the same boat. We’re on the same journey. Let’s make it happen.
“Delayed climate action will cost us vastly more each year in terms of lost lives and livelihoods, crippled businesses, and damaged economies,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said late last month. “The highest cost is the cost of doing nothing.” The rest of the world is starting to get this. Now it’s the U.S.’s turn.
It’s sort of effed up to think about climate impacts (i.e. loss of life, loss of nations, refugee crises, disease, etc.) in terms of economic value lost. But if that’s the argument policymakers are making, two can play at that game. Setting aside the MASSIVE ethical reasons for doing something about climate change, economically, it still makes sense to do something about it. Climate change is expected to cost the U.S. about $500 BILLION annually by the end of the century––so we could be saving TRILLIONS if we act now. Not to mention job opportunities and improved health and healthcare. It’s a no brainer. Act on climate. C’mon.