This is the story about how you were lied to with billions of dollars being spent to confuse you about renewable energy.
The extent of lies has been so drastic that you may not even realize you are currently living through one of the most pivotal moments in modern history. And to fully understand what is happening right now, we must go back to the first industrial revolution.
The First Industrial Revolution
The first industrial revolution started in Britain between 1760 and 1820. It was defined as a significant economic shift. And according to economists, that requires three things. First is a new way of communicating. In this case, the fancy ability to print and use the Telegraph. Second was a new transportation mechanism. In this case, it was steam-powered locomotives and third a new power source. In this case, it was the burning of coal.
The Second Industrial Revolution
Then came the second industrial revolution. This time it was happening mainly in America, and it started in 1870 to the early 1900s. The new way of communicating was phones, radio television.
The new transportation mechanism was internal combustion vehicles, and the new power source was cheap oil, but of course, they were still burning coal.
The Third Industrial Revolution
Many people don’t want you to know this, but you are, in fact, living through a third industrial revolution. The new way of communicating is the internet. The new way of getting around is hybrid and electric vehicles. And the new power source is solar, wind and nuclear.
But since 2016, the top five oil companies have spent a billion dollars trying to confuse everybody about these new power sources. And it makes sense because in the last ten years they made 900 billion of profit. Yet, in 2019, they only spent 3% of their $115 billion capital investment in low carbon alternatives.
This suggests that a power grid based on renewables isn’t feasible, too expensive, or would hurt the economy.
Changing Energy Costs
But what if I told you that as of November 2018, everything changed? This was when renewable energy such as wind and solar became cheaper and more efficient than fossil fuels.
For example, in 1977, the cost of photovoltaic excels for solar panels was $76. Now it’s only 50 cents. In addition, while fossil fuel energies have reached their peak efficiency, chemical engineers and scientists agree that fossil fuels have matured with little potential to exploit.
In contrast, wind and solar continue to become more efficient each year.
The sun emits 470 Exodus of energy to earth every 88 minutes, the amount of energy that all of us combined use in one year.
If we grabbed 1/100th of the sun’s power emits, it would give us six times the energy we now use across the global economy. If wind farms held just 20% of the wind that currently blows, it could power eight times the global economy.
These facts push the world to shift into the third industrial revolution. And if Britain and America spearheaded the first and second, it seems that the European Union spearheaded the third.
In China in 2017, 45% of total global investment in renewable energy was from China. China plans to get 62% of its energy from renewable sources in the next 30 years.
Europe currently gets 18% of electricity from solar and wind, but some specific countries are wholly committed to pushing these numbers much further.
Germany announced that over the next 20 years, they are going to phase out coal completely. And to do this, they will invest $40 billion in coal cities to retrain workers and keep those local economies strong. And Germany has a lot of coal factories. They currently get one-third of their energy from coal. So they understand that moving away from this energy source will be a considerable challenge. Still, they realize it is a crucial thing to do to be a competitive commercial country in the future.
On top of this, 18 countries, including China, India, France, the Netherlands in Ireland, have announced their intention to phase out the sale and registration of vehicles that are powered by fossil fuels over the next decade.
The bank of America projects that 40% of all car sales by 2030 will be electric. A big reason for the steep incline in electric car sales is the rapidly declining price of lithium batteries, which cost $1,000 per kilowatt hour in 2010. But by the end of 2017 were only $209 per kilowatt hour, a 79% plunge in price in just seven years. The average density of electric vehicle batteries also improves by about five to 7% each year. According to Bloomberg new energy finance, by 2025, electric vehicles will constitute 19% of all passenger vehicle sales in China, 14% in the EU, and 11% in the US.
There are still a lot of negative environmental impacts of lithium batteries. And with electric cars, if you are charging your vehicle using a grid powered by fossil fuels, that electric car becomes much less green.
Point of Contention
This brings us to a big point of contention in these conversations: these oil companies spend a lot of money to confuse us. And that is how we will build a grid that powers our society based on just wind, solar and nuclear.
A New Horizon
One of the most exciting solutions to this grid problem comes from our best friend, the internet, known as the internet of things. A future smart grid could connect power sources, computing devices, and everyday objects to work together to become the most efficient power grid possible.
The grid becomes incredibly efficient by sharing information and storing wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear energy. A great local example of this is wind farms that use innovative technology.
When there are hundreds of wind turbines, they’re not working independently. They’re communicating. They’re suggesting how each one is affecting the wind and how they can optimize as a group instead of as individuals to be as efficient as possible.
Imagine this on a bigger scale: an entire country’s power grid communicating to optimize itself in America.
New studies show that using the internet of things grid model to connect renewables can increase energy efficiency by 60% over the next 20 years.
Now is the time to do it in America because the continued deterioration of the country’s infrastructure could result in $7 trillion lost in sales and jobs by 2025, the American society of civil engineers gave the current public infrastructure of America. Moreover, polls show that Americans support more federal, state, and local funding to improve infrastructure.
How do we pay for this? There is no correct answer right now, but after reading books and studies and listening to many experts, we’re going to go over some options and talk about a few numbers. If a 70% tax were put on the super-rich in America, it would bring in between 72 to 170 billion per year. This is a tax on people who make more than 10 million annually. And again, this 70% tax is only on the money they make over $10 million. I know that people freak out about this idea on Twitter. I think a lot of it has to do with the thought that maybe taxing these rich people is going to slow down the economy.
But history shows that between the 1950s and sixties, when the US had super high marginal tax rates, between 70 to 92%, the American economy was defined as having strong growth. It would be best if you taxed the rich. In 2018 60 of America’s top corporations paid $0 in federal income tax.
Amazon didn’t pay any federal income tax in 2018, even though it had $11.2 billion in profit. So if you were an American paying taxes in 2018, you paid more tax than Amazon.
In 2015, all fossil fuel companies received 5.3 trillion in post-tax subsidies. It is a confusing statistic, but it means that your government and tax-paying money had to fund these wealthy corporations.
How to Get Involved
Now, this is a point where you can get involved. We need to be voting for politicians who will tax the rich because the eight wealthiest individuals in the world have more money than half of the world combined.
We also have to vote for politicians who listen to scientists and understand the environmental and economic negative impacts of continuing to subsidize fossil fuel companies. This means voting for politicians open to making carbon taxes that produce fossil fuels more expensive while rewarding green innovation. Building out renewables is going to create new jobs, which brings us to another point of contention in these arguments and this discussion.
If you work in the fossil fuel industry with climate change and shifting the economy, you’re going to end up losing your job.
To start, a conservative estimate found that jobs in wind-solar in nuclear already outnumber fossil fuel jobs by a rate of three to one. But the devastating truth is that people in the fossil fuel industries will lose their jobs, which is why it’s essential to help transition them but keep them in the energy sector.
These jobs might include building new batteries that are more efficient and can hold energy longer for solar and wind or constructing more efficient nuclear power plants in Canada. There’s also a group of oil workers called iron and earth who are calling on the Canadian government to help retrain laid-off oil workers to put solar panels on top of buildings, starting with public buildings like schools in Germany.
They incentivize people by subsidizing green and solar energy through tax subsidies. This created new industries. And now, a lot of early adopters are making money by selling energy back to the grid in China. Energy is a company that leads the world in thin solar powered materials.
They make backpacks and umbrellas and a range of items that allow you as an individual to carry the sun’s energy with you and like charge your phone. And this specific industry employs 3.8 million people.
And finally, in Texas, many people have second incomes from their wind farms because Texas is windy.
Now let’s chat about COVID, as most of this energy information is from before this current global pandemic. However, the pandemic has contracted the economy. This means that by the end of 2020, CO2 emissions will likely be 8% less than in 2019: a decrease of 128 Giga tons of CO2 in the atmosphere compared to no pandemic.
This is the most significant annual decrease since world war II. This may seem like good news. But every downtick is an economic crisis that is followed by a steep increase in CO2 emissions.
Looking at the 2008 financial crisis, we see a long period of flattened emissions. One reason is that 15% of the global stimulus after that financial crisis went into developing and deploying green technologies. So we have to do this again.
As we move on from the COVID 19 economical crisis, we need to create jobs in wind and solar. In the US, at the beginning of 2020, 250,000 people were working in solar.
We need financial incentives that help them get back to work on infrastructure, construction jobs for the grid, the internet of things, building energy, retrofits of buildings, and public transportation.
Jobs will get people back to work fast. So we need programs that retrain and justly move workers out of conventional coal industries into new green alternatives.
This will save the inevitable disappearance of their jobs in coal and also help the environment. During COVID, the US, Mexico, and South Africa, relaxed laws controlling pollution standards, vehicle efficiency, and fuel economy rules. The idea was to commit the nation to higher transport emissions, which doesn’t make sense scientifically, politically, or economically.
Get ready to vote. We need to vote for politicians who believe in science and use scientific literature to build policy. This is how we catalyze political action to understand that respect for science will protect us against the biggest threats to our societies, such as pandemics. And the biggest one is already here and will only worsen in the future. And we need to be paying attention to, and that is climate change.