I sure hope so. It will require global participation and cooperation if it is to happen by 2050, which is the tentative deadline that’s been given. I myself am curious, and I hate to answer your question with another, but what are the hurdles we face as we try to obtain freedom from fossil fuels? If it is such a desirable and possible thing, what is being done, what isn’t and why not? I’ve been researching this topic with only mild reassurance that the right moves are being made. The attached link sure sounds optimistic but I am erring on the side of caution before believing anything printed on a website. Whether we fear environmental crises the likes of which we’ve never seen or everlasting political strife, it is something that should hold every nation’s attention and create international solidarity. That right there is obviously a big obstacle.
It will be astonishing if in 20 or even 30 years US electricity generation can get rid of coal (44% of present electricity), natural gas (20%), and nuclear (20%) (since uranium is mined, and 85% is imported, I’d argue against calling it “clean” – and of course there’s the problem with nuclear waste; nuclear power has a smaller carbon footprint but brings plenty of other baggage with it).
So what else? Wind, tide, geothermal are all so tiny now that it would take unimaginable investment and innovation to scale them up any time soon to significantly more than the small contributions they make now. Hydropower? Build more dams – that does not happen overnight and carries its own problems. Solar? It will take some awfully big fields of panels to generate electricity on the scales the US consumes it, especially if demand quintuples to serve electric cars. MAYBE there could be something in solar on a personal home or individual basis within 20+ years. Solar cells require things like selenium and indium that must be mined. Ethanol? Growing corn has huge issues not least of which is the runoff from fertilizer that helps make the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and the potential exhaustion of sources of phosphorus – a vital, not an optional, component of fertilizer…
Sorry to be so pessimistic. US levels of consumption of everything, including electricity, are so huge, realistic alternatives are just about impossible at current levels. As long as coal and natural gas are as cheap as they are, they will be used.
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