This has been a good year for climate change.
Climate change fighters, that is. Despite a recent Gallup Poll finding that 25 percent of U.S. citizens do not believe in climate change, an overwhelming consensus of scientific studies concludes that global warming is real and anthropogenic (a fancy way of saying man-made; go impress your friends). An analysis by the Institute of Physics found that the consensus is so overwhelming that of 11,944 peer-reviewed scientific studies, only 118 rejected anthropogenic global warming. On the other hand, 97.2 percent supported anthropogenic global warming.
In the scientific spirit, President Barack Obama declared his intent to contribute $3 billion to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund, the largest donation the organization would ever receive. He also managed to seal a deal with China, the No. 1 carbon polluter in the world, that would reduce both America’s and China’s carbon emissions. This first-ever agreement is considered critical for global commitment to fighting climate change, raising the bar for all other nations at this year’s climate conference.
Indeed, now is the time to act for climate change and green energy activists. Solar power, for instance, has the potential to provide 100 times the America’s annual energy demand; that’s not 100 percent, that’s 100 times. And — bonus — not only does solar energy have a carbon footprint of zero, it’s cheap, too! According to a Deutsche Bank analysis, in two years solar energy will be as cheap or cheaper in 47 U.S. states than traditional grid electricity, even if we change nothing about our green energy policy.
Although we may have to do something to prevent the reversal of environmental goals. Many politicians and companies argue that green energy will devastate the economy, a chance we cannot take on a science that isn’t totally, completely, irrefutably proven. Conservative influence led Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to slash energy efficiency goals by more than 90 percent. Duke Energy Florida, with plans to conserve 333 gigawatt hours of electricity by switching to solar power, was forced to scale back to a mere 21 gigawatt hours. Essentially, the aptly nicknamed “Sunshine State” is promoting fossil fuel usage and discouraging green energy, which is ironic in the state with the third greatest solar energy potential in the country. MotherJones further reports that solar energy, despite its massive and cost-effective potential, provides less than half of one percent of U.S. energy now. Mostly due to wacky policies like the PSC’s that are not founded in science (again, 97.2 percent proving global warming is a threat!)
We as a community have an enormous capacity for enforcing and supporting environmental policies. We can participate in energy conservation and pollution reduction goals at the federal level, but we can also be proud of Eugene’s dedication to a greener planet. Our city council is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and finding incentives to promote green energy development and energy conservation. Eugene is on the forefront of the climate change fight, and Oregon is one of 14 states with climate adaptation plans. Let’s keep the environmental momentum rolling. For the holidays, give a gift to the Earth: Waste less, use less, and conserve more.