Energy is climate Plan B

Denis Pombriant
6 min readMay 30, 2019
Talking about cost savings will attract reticent minds.

Sentiment about the climate situation has likely reached a topping out point. Public opinion rarely, if ever, reaches one hundred percent and with 70 percent of the public now acknowledgingthe climate reality, trying to convince even more people is proving to be a problem. Those unconvinced are likely to be dug in so the logical question becomes how to convince them without alienating them. A recent story in the New York Times about energy solutions at the state levelis inspiring. The answer might be to leave them alone for the moment so that they can come to their own conclusions.

Changing tactics slightly, the great issue today doesn’t concern achieving majority opinion about climate, it’s about moving political leaders to action and, unfortunately, that will take an election to change. So, what do we do in the meantime?

The climate movement might profitably use the time to educate the public about the other facets of climate change. Too often we think one-dimensionally about the issue stopping short when we get to emissions and determining they need to halt. That’s fine as far as it goes but stopping a practice that causes harm is often not enough. Some measure of repair or remediation is also needed. In this case especially, halting emissions won’t change the concentration of C02 in the atmosphere and the reality that some of it needs removal. It also won’t do anything to address the fact that there is a fixed and limited amount of fossil fuels in the earth.

We’ve been using coal since the early 1700’s and petroleum since 1859 in the US and they’re running out. That’s not often discussed but it’s also incontrovertible. Authorities like the US Department of Energy and the International Energy Agencypresent the fact to anyone interested in searching on the subject. There’s about a 50-year supply of petroleum left or 1.687 trillion barrels. It sounds like a lot and it is, but 50 years doesn’t seem very long from now and, in the interim, we need to spin up a new energy paradigm to replace fossil fuels or risk catastrophe. There’s no way our current population of 7.7 billion people, and heading towards 10 billion by mid-century, can inhabit the planet without a cheap and ready supply of energy to run things like tractors and trucks or to make fertilizer and pump irrigation water. Notice this doesn’t even include transportation…

Denis Pombriant

Researcher, author of multiple books including “The Age of Sustainability” about solutions for climate change. Technology, business, economics.