School is out but learning never stops. If you live in one of the many places besieged by this bizarre global heat wave and find yourself wondering if maybe there is something to all of this anthropogenic climate change talk, I’m here with some easy summer reading for you.
Turns out, a blocked pattern weakening the jet stream is to blame for much of the recent summer misery. And, to no one’s surprise, human consumption patterns are to blame. Here is yet another tank of gasoline data is heaped upon the signal fire. And as we change the boundaries of actual whole seasons, we see that in one small corner of the planet, one of the most iconic symbols of nature’s timelessness, rarity, and adaptability, is under threat of extinction. “But wait,” you say. “I keep reading about renewable energy successes and the how the coal industry is sinking faster than Trump’s approval numbers.” And these are true. Sweden is about to achieve its 2030 renewable energy goal 12 years early, and as I pointed out earlier this week, my beloved New England battled the current heat wave with a lot of help from solar PV installations. (New England doesn't typically get the most love as a renewable energy leader.) So how are we making what seems like little-to-no progress? There are many answers, but one that sticks out like a category 5 hurricane is the fact that, globally, we are consuming more and more energy. Despite record levels of renewable energy installations, the world’s appetite for power outpaced new installations. So either we have to outpace our need for more power with higher levels of renewable energy penetration, or we need to find a way to do the same with less. Or both. And more. First, let’s devote more resources to R&D for battery technology. It’s kind of like a bank account: the more we can save now, the better we can weather (no pun intended) crises in the future and can mitigate their impact. Also, let’s find a way to get this done. Second, where possible, let’s be real about the cost of our energy choices. To keep paying a 1993-era cost for 21st century type consumption makes no sense. And remember the panic of low-efficiency SUVs and trucks when the economy tanked? Not everybody does, though at the rate oil and gasoline prices are rising, they may get a refresher sooner than they think. Not surprising, choices to go back to when times were supposedly great are not going to help in the long run, but may actually cost consumers $450 billion by 2050. Third, get involved and stay involved.