Speeding the Energy Transition

Dave Roberts | Is Climate Change an Existential Threat? | #88

One barrel of oil equals the manual labor energy of one human for five years. This fact explains why humans are strapped to fossil fuels: entire economies and lifestyles are based on the easy availability of fossil fuels. Humans don’t yet know how to live off of the Earth’s “energy budget” – fueled by the sun.

We’re emitting more CO2 than at any time before. What is the barrier to slowing this down? Politics, and the difficulty humans have with change. But change is afoot and hope is alive.

David Roberts is editor-at-large at Canary Media. He writes about clean energy and politics at his newsletter, Volts. Previously, he covered the same subjects for five years at Vox, and before that for 10 years at Grist.
Today on Clean Power Hour, David joins Tim to discuss the progress made on technologies that extract carbon out of the atmosphere, make the clean energy we need to sustain us and store the extra. David presents the three very attainable goals that will bring us most of the way to the solution. Listen in for a veritable “clinic” on established clean energy technologies in place now and those in reengineering stage, like hydrogen, thermal, concentrated solar and more. As David states, many solutions are surprisingly basic and simple.

Key Takeaways

How the global action humans have taken, while painfully slow, will likely save us from the most extreme outcomes previously considered possible
The rare jewel that is a climate science expert who speaks in plain language
How Nate Hagen’s quote, “Things are getting worse and worse and better and better, faster and faster” sums up human’s very slow adoption of climate solutions
The three changes we can make that will solve 75% of the problem
David’s take on why now is the most amazing time to be finding solutions in energy storage
Outside wind and solar, how non-intermittent solutions such as geothermal, smaller hydro, lithium-ion batteries, meltdown-proof nuclear and thermal energy are having a moment
How the ecological principle of “carrying capacity” explains the problem humans have caused on Earth
What concentrated solar is, and how it’s a great example of replacing materials with intelligence
How one simple but clever insight waiting to be uncovered could be the answer