The next decade will decide what the world looks like for thousands of decades to come

Bill McKibben writes: The next 10 years will be decisive when it comes to the planet’s future — what we do (or don’t) will play out over geologic time.

It could, if we set our minds to it, be the decade when the planet’s use of fossil fuels peaks and then rapidly declines. We’ve built a movement that, for the moment, is starting to tie down the fossil fuel industry: from the tarsands of Alberta to the (as yet unbuilt) giant new mines of Australia’s Galilee Basin, the big players in coal, gas, and oil are bothered and even bewildered by a new strain of activist. They’re losing on the image front: when the Rockefeller family, the Church of England, and Prince Charles have begun divesting their fossil fuel stocks, you know the tide has turned.

And with it comes the sudden chance to replace that fossil fuel, fast and relatively easily. Out of nowhere the price of solar panels has fallen like an anvil from a skyscraper, dropping 75 percent in the last six years. Renewable energy is suddenly as cheap or cheaper than the bad stuff, even before you figure in the insane monetary cost of global warming. So in Bangladesh they’re solarizing 60,000 huts a month; the whole country may be panelled by 2020.

That rapid change wouldn’t be enough to stop global warming — we’re already seeing drastic changes, as anyone living through California’s drought can attest. We’ll continue to see record-breaking years (like 2014. And like 2015 so far). We’ll have to deal with record flooding. The ocean will grow more acidic. But maybe, if we really ratchet up the transition we’ll avoid a challenge of civilization-scale. [Continue reading…]

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One thought on “The next decade will decide what the world looks like for thousands of decades to come

  1. pabelmont

    Our leaders know all this — or could know it. The Koch brothers also know it. All are determined to do as the Koch’s and the other oligarchs desire — that is, nothing to stop the onrush of catastrophe. Perhaps they believe that the USa or someone else is all powerful and will step in to prevent disaster. Of course they are wrong, but people believe what comforts them.

    In my book, they are all psychopaths — they are willing to let the future of the earth sink without a trace in order to protect their own short term “advantages”, advantages of short-term profits or short-term political power. They have no human feeling whatsoever. This include President Obama. If he lacks power to make changes in the world, as well he may, he has at least the power to “tell it like it is” to the American people. Someone must teach us. He could. He doesn’t. And Hillary Clinton? Was she not pushing for the tar-sands pipeline? Of course, the Republicans are worse. The earth seems cursed.

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