Global Trends to Combat Climate Change

by cicada on November 10, 2017 - 9:41pm

Stories of the disastrous consequences of climate change as well as attempts to fight it have been in headlines for years now. Fortunately, there have been recent global trends to combat the menace that is climate change—including improvements for environmentally-friendly products and the gradual abandonment of environment-damaging processes.

            The first trend is the production of plant-based meats. The production of real meat is a major source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions, both of which are potent greenhouse gases. Plant-based meats, however, have a relatively tiny environmental footprint. In addition to its environmental benefits, plant-based meats also avoid the animal welfare concerns that the traditional meat industry faces, since no animals are killed in the process (Carrington, 2017). There are some obstacles to overcome, such as making the plant-based meat taste like actual meat, in addition to being affordable and convenient; with lower demand for such a product, the impact too will be lower (Carrington, 2017).

            The renewable energy revolution is also helping to mitigate climate change by gradually replacing fossil fuels. The costs for producing solar panels and wind turbines have both plunged dramatically, with the costs for solar panels dropping as much as 90% in the past decade (Carrington, 2017).  Due to the declining costs, wind and solar are the cheapest sources of electricity in some parts of the world. In fact, due to its high production and low cost, at a brief point in time in Germany, so much wind power was generated that customers were given free electricity (Carrington, 2017).  Solar and wind power are now cheaper than coal power, which is now heading into a “death spiral” (Carrington, 2017). In addition to being much more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels, it seems that these renewable energy sources are also more economically viable for the average consumer.

            The other trends include the adoption of electric vehicles instead of their combustion-powered counterparts, rapidly decreasing prices for lithium-ion batteries (used for solar panels, wind turbines, as well as electric cars), and increasingly energy-efficient housing (Carrington, 2017).

I agree with the author in that these changes are promising, but despite these efforts, we are still in a race against time. Although these trends are promising, the most change will come from shutting down the fossil fuel industry and changing the way we live. For these new technologies and ideas to be fully implemented into our lives, there must be a way to eliminate the older, less environmentally-friendly products and practices while minimizing the consequences of sudden change. It is easier said than done to completely phase out fossil fuel energy in favour of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, since the amount of jobs in the fossil fuel industry is anything but negligible.

Keeping in mind the trends outlined in the article, and especially how they will eventually replace products and practices used today demonstrates the prominence of the staples trap. The adoption of solar and wind power isn’t as fast as it should be since many countries (especially Canada) are dependant on fossil fuels for export as well as energy production, making the process of transitioning to being fully powered by renewable energy a lot more difficult since doing so may have a profound negative impact on our economy. Such a transition should not be impossible or exceedingly expensive, given that Germany has already accomplished this feat (so much so that they gave free electricity). The biggest consequences from a hypothetical rapid transition to solar and wind energy would be the amount of jobs lost in the fossil fuel industry, as well as a profound decrease in money entering the Canadian economy due to the staples trap.

Sources:

Carrington, D. (2017, November 8). The seven megatrends that could beat global warming: 'There is reason for hope'. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/08/seven-megatrends-tha...

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