In another good catch by Atmoz, Jeffrey Sachs has an opinion piece in Scientific American. Quoth Sachs:
The growing understanding that serious climate-control measures are feasible at modest cost is welcome.
More directly to brass tacks (David Roberts are you listening?):
A promising core strategy seems to be the following. Electricity needs to be made virtually emission-free, through the mass mobilization of solar and nuclear power and the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide from coal-burning power plants. With a clean power grid, most of the other emissions can also be controlled.
… The economics are also favorable. Carbon capture and sequestration at coal-fired power plants might raise costs for electricity as little as one to three cents per kilowatt-hour, according to a special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The mass conversion of the U.S. to solar power might involve an incremental cost of roughly four cents per kilowatt-hour, with overall electricity costs on the order of eight to nine cents per kilowatt-hour. These incremental costs imply far less than 1 percent of the world’s annual income to convert to a clean power grid. The costs in the other sectors will also be small.
It’s both ends against the middle here.
Don’t listen to those who say that everything has to change or we are doomed. The romantic left and the righteous right agree that this is a battle for the soul of civilization. This idea is wrong and dangerous.
It’s just a matter of well-placed and substantial but not overwhelming intervention into commerce. That’s a tall enough order but it’s not at all impossible. Let’s take our medicine and make our corrections so we can get back to making progress on human dignity and peaceful collaboration.
I’m not a middle-of-the-roader about climate change itself. Physics is not susceptible to compromise. We are indeed flirting with an unprecedented catastrophe.
I’m just pointing out that there are apparent agreements among the political extremes that we have to be very careful about buying into. We need good old fashioned rational intervention by the body politic and we no longer have much time to waste about it.
Addressing our problems does **not** require a total reinvention of all the world’s cultures, and that’s a good thing because there isn’t time for that.
I think the people in power have come around to this, and are simply waiting for the current ignorocracy in the US to end before taking action.
Much of the public is still missing the point though: the fix to our problems isn’t easy but it isn’t anywhere near as hard as the no-fix scenario. The fix is technical and regulatory.
The technical/regulatory clean energy strategy is the path that avoids the social upheaval, not the one that demands it. If the word “conservative” still meant anything I would swear it was by far the more conservative strategy. God only knows what some of the people calling themselves “conservative” think they are conserving.
Here’s my nomination for something worthy of conservation: