Climate Change Challenge
Ted Folkert, August 22, 2018
Our fearless leader Donald “Vladimir” Trump is, of course, rolling back clean air regulations on coal-burning power plants. It’s another head-in-the-sand attempt to revive the coal industry that threatens the environment to “save all those coal mining jobs,” as he promised to do while campaigning in coal mining states.
Robert Bryce, in his L.A. Times article, “A Fully Renewable California, discusses Bill McKibben’s “Do the Math” tour about renewable energy. This concerns California Senate Bill 100 which would require the state’s utilities to get all their energy from renewable sources by 2045.
As Bryce explains it, this would require more than 100,000 megawatts of onshore wind-power capacity, which would require more than 15,000 square miles of turbines. L.A County is about 4,000 square miles, so this would occupy an area 4 times the size of L. A. County, which houses, employs or educates more than 10,000,000 people.
It would also require more than 30,000 megawatts of off-shore wind capacity, and more than 200,000 megawatts of solar-energy capacity. The 200,000 megawatts of solar energy capacity would be about equivalent to the amount generated on the entire planet last year. The 30,000 megawatts of off-shore wind capacity would require more that 80 new solar facilities as large as that in the Mojave Desert which covers more than 5 square miles.
Obviously, the goal of this bill would seem a formidable challenge at best and, more than likely, impossible to achieve in the time frame which the bill sets out.
So, what has caused this problem of providing enough power to serve the state, or the nation, or the planet? There have been many books written about this subject, so it cannot be explained here in a few paragraphs. However, some obvious causational factors are apparent. The population of the state, country, and planet has grown geometrically over the last couple of hundred years. When we started using electric power there were less than 1 billion people on the planet. Now there will soon be 8 billion. And when there were 1 billion people we didn’t use electric power for everything we do, we didn’t all drive vehicles which were manufactured by the thousands, we didn’t all have well-lit houses and offices, we didn’t all have radios, televisions, air conditioners, multiple electric appliances, cell phones computers, printers, you name it.
Adding up the impact of population growth and multiplying it by the technological advancements for comfort, health, and entertainment equates to a simple explanation of the growth in demand for power generation capacity and the space and resources it requires.
And now that we seek alternatives to protect the fragile environment which supports human life, and now that we face depletion of scarce resources, and now that we face the cost and impact of providing adequate power generation capacity, we have some decisions to make that will probably not be made in a timely manner and which will endanger the fragile environment which we are responsible for preserving for future generations. Future generations obviously are those who have not yet been born and therefor are unable to voice their objection to our depletion of scarce precious resources and destructiveness of the planet.
But, on a brighter side, or uglier side, if we continue to choose world leaders like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jon Il, and Trump the over-population problem may solve itself through warfare, a very unpleasant sounding resolution.
Think about it!