Every ounce of personal and physical energy and every dollar is crucial in the race to keep global warming below 1.5OC increase over preindustrial levels. With that in mind, an assessment of so called “renewable energy” was conducted. The full report is at https://tinyurl.com/3khe8cjy.
Renewable energy comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished. The table lists the major types of renewable energy. On the left are the renewables that have become part of the climate problem because they emit heat trapping gases (plus some – particularly ethanol and biodiesel — are harmful to our soil); on the right are non-emitting renewables.
|Major Types of Renewable Energy|
|Biomass sources of energy create heat-trapping gases.||Non-emitting sources of energy|
|· Wood and wood waste
|Sources NRDC, EIA, DOE|
Zero emissions, not renewability, is the important property for our energy sources. To reduce, and expeditiously eliminate human-caused emissions, the technical solution is pretty much agreed on by the experts (Project Drawdown, Union of Concerned Scientists –Solutions. Bill Gates- How to Avoid a Climate Disaster).
We must reduce energy consumption. We need to electrify almost everything and generate all our electricity from zero-emission sources of energy. It is therefore of utmost importance that everyone understands what those sources are.
|Zero Emission Energy Sources|
|The highest ranked solutions are not energy source related. They are Refrigeration Management (#1), Educating Girls (#6 ) & Family Planning (#7) – the two of which combined top the whole list.|
|Source: Hawken, Paul editor. 2017. Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. Penguin Books. https://www.drawdown.org/|
We need to stop emitting heat-trapping gases and improve soil management. This requires abandoning certain renewable sources of energy.
Here are some ways you can be part of the solution.
Give up the use of the fireplace to stop emissions from burning wood.
Stop supporting campaigns for “100% clean and renewable energy.” While some of these programs have produced marginal improvements, they are not effective enough to eliminate emissions by 2030. Instead, encourage policies such as low carbon portfolio standards. These are a more effective and affordable way to reduce carbon emissions because they require utilities to purchase low-carbon electricity produced from zero-emission sources.
Support Carbon Fee and Dividend. A national price (a fee) on emission, with revenues returned to households (the dividend) is the fastest and most equitable way to reduce our nation’s emissions.
Re-purpose and re-name government agencies to focus on mitigating the climate crisis instead of supporting the proliferation of exclusively renewable energy programs. Two agencies that would benefit from reform are the National Renewable Energy Lab, and DOE’s office of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The plant-rich diet is No. 4 of Drawdown’s 100 solutions. That transition may be the most effective way an individual can help reduce the damage from the warming climate.
Stop subsidizing farmers to grow corn and soybeans to make biofuels. Instead, we should be paying farmers to store carbon, help the climate and save farms. It makes sense to incentivize silvopasture and regenerative agriculture practices.
We can act in our own yards and neighborhoods. Using electric or battery operated landscape equipment, powered by the sun, eliminates the pollution from gas and diesel fuels.
Using composting (No. 60 on the Drawdown list) instead of synthetic fertilizer results in less heat trapping gas emissions and soil better able to store carbon.
Native trees, shrubs and grasses are able to tolerate natural soils and local rainfall patterns, salt air, etc. Natives also fight off the loss of diversity by their long-established relationships with the local insects, birds and other wildlife.
Replacing lawns that use fertilizers. Nitrous oxide emissions (including those from fertilizer) are 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Projects that replace parking lots and other spaces with native trees and shrubs can work wonders. Afforestation, creating new forests where there were none before, is Project Drawdown’s No. 15 of its 100 solutions.
Some forms of renewable energy can help solve the climate crisis, but others contribute to the problem by creating emissions and degrading our soils. Focusing on renewables distracts us from the urgent task of stopping all emissions, restoring full photosynthesis, and improving the management of our soil.
Let’s drop the renewable concept and instead focus on zero emission sources of energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear, and small hydro.
And let’s alter our farming and land management practices by adopting regenerative agriculture, silvopasture, afforestation, composting and native landscapes.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.