Al Gore, via a new report from his Energy Transitions Commission (ETC), would like for you to know that he has a plan to save all of mankind from inevitable extinction which will come by around the year 2030 unless we join his global warming crusade immediately.
For those of you ignorant, science-hating, climate-doubters among our reader base who refuse to take Al Gore’s word at face value, here is a little background on the ETC. Apparently they have single-handedly taken upon themselves the epic goal of fighting a cataclysmic 2 degree temp rise over the next 20 years.
The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) brings together a diverse group of individuals from the energy and climate communities: investors, incumbent energy companies, industry disruptors, equipment suppliers, energy-intensive industries, non-profit organizations, advisors, and academics from across the developed and developing world. Our aim is to accelerate change towards low-carbon energy systems that enable robust economic development and limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2?C.
So, how does Al Gore intend to accomplish his lofty goal of saving planet Earth? Well, by eradicating coal, installing massive renewable energy projects and enlisting the support of some “forceful public policies,” of course.
Energy transition 1 – decarbonization of power combined with extended electrification could account for the largest share of emissions reductions between now and 2040. Zero-carbon sources (mainly renewables) could account for up to 80% of the global power mix by 2040, while coal-fired power need to decline steeply as soon as possible.
Energy transition 2 – decarbonization of activities which cannot be cost-effectively electrified – will probably account for only a small share of emissions reductions over the next 20 years, but will become absolutely vital as the potential for electrification is exhausted. Major work is still required to define the path to success.
Energy transition 3 – energy productivity – considerable progress is being achieved, but a further acceleration is required. This is technically and economically feasible, but will required more forceful public policies.
Energy transition 4 – implies falling fossil fuels use, even if carbon capture and sequestration* is developed on a very large scale. However, at the moment, progress on all forms of carbon sequestration (including natural carbon sinks*, underground storage* and CO² -based products*) is too slow and requires supportive policy frameworks in order to progress.
So how much will it cost for Al Gore to save us from ourselves? How about $15 Trillion…does that sound reasonable to everyone?
The transition to a low-carbon global economy* will require significant additional energy system investments – around $300-$600 billion per annum – compared with a business as usual scenario. In the context of global GDP running at around $80 trillion in 2017, and global annual investment at $20 trillion, additional investments of around $300-$600 billion per annum do not pose a major macroeconomic challenge. Clean energy investments with predictable long-term returns could be attractive to a range of institutional investors in the current low interest rate environment.
However, a well below 2?C pathway requires a major change in the mix of investment. Total fossil fuels investment between now and 2030 could be some $3.7 trillion ($175 billion per year) lower than in a business as usual scenario; investment in renewables and other low-carbon technologies some $6 trillion higher ($300 billion per year); while the largest required increases – of almost $9 trillion ($450 billion per year) – will be in more efficient energy saving equipment and buildings.
With all that said, we thought this would be a good opportunity to put Al’s view of the future into perspective by reviewing some of the apocalyptic predictions made at the first Earth Day in 1970, courtesy of AEI.org:
- Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
- “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.
- “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
- Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”
- In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
- Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.
- Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).
- Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
- Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.
- Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
- Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”