Environmentalism: Three Eras

I think we are living an important time. For me it’s useful to understand current priorities in the context of the history of environmentalism. That history can be summarized as three key periods:

ENVIRONMENTALISM 1.0 – UNDER THE RADAR

Recorded history does not include widespread concern about the impact of the human race on the earth’s natural processes, until the industrial revolution was in full swing in the 1800s. The earliest voices may have been taken seriously, but they seem to have had little effect on human behaviour.

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ENVIRONMENTALISM 2.0 – DEBATE & STRUGGLE

From approximately 1960 until 2015, with world population growing from 3 billion to 7 billion people, concern about pollution became widespread. Governments all over the world passed laws. Thousands of environmental groups were formed. Scientists and environmentalists were releasing many more significant books and articles. Oil and coal companies used their great wealth to fight vigourously to confuse the issues and defend their dominant position in the global economy.

By the 2000s numerous alternative technologies had been proven to work and their cost became economically viable. In 2015 worldwide policymakers met in Paris and signed an accord that established climate change as one of the earth’s most pressing problems and our highest priority for coordinated international action.

ENVIRONMENTALISM 3.0 – SOLUTIONS

Today governments are intervening in the marketplace to help implement solutions and smooth the transition from our oil and coal based economy to a clean tech world. Scientists believe we must act quickly to avoid very serious effects from climate change. With 7.6 billion people, our planet is politically, economically and technologically diverse. We will need more than government intervention to meet the challenge. We will need to continue to work together, to ramp up our efforts, and to communicate about success stories and best practices.

Please help celebrate the innovations and best practices of our modern clean energy heroes by visiting this Heroes page and sharing the information found there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Weight of Evidence

Our education system – The weight of evidence & the human species

Weight of evidence“If it leads it bleeds,” is a TV journalism phrase that describes the ratings/page views phenomenon that feeds the sensationalist nature of modern media and social media. While many of us don’t like what it reveals about us, we understand the realism of our mundane day-to-day lives and our fascination with tragic news. We’re human, we’re stressed or tired, we do what’s easy. We chat about what’s in the news, whether it’s bleeding, or the Trump show.

OBAMA & LETTERMAN

There was a moment during a mostly tame recent Netflix discussion between Barack Obama and David Letterman when they touched on media polarization and mentioned a cause and an effect.

First the effect: We live in a bubble that reinforces our current beliefs. Every time we click ‘like’ or sign up to another site, show, station or feed that makes assertions we already agree with, we limit the amount of balance in our world view.

The cause: That site or feed or TV station generates revenue by targetting a kind of ‘profile person’ that will behave as needed: revisit, comment, click through and or buy services, products and ideas. Whatever your online activity is, the ‘big data’ algorithms are creating your ‘profile persona,’ defining you as an audience member or customer of a certain kind.

The result is that we can’t really blame Donald Trump for Donald Trump. We need to understand that he is a product of this bubble world. The 62 million who voted for him believed in a different set of ‘facts’ or a different version of reality than those who did not. They truly believed that tighter immigration laws will make us safer, that saving the coal mining industry is smart economics, that bluster, bluffing and insults are better for world leaders than more nuanced approaches.

The future: The probability is that growing numbers and also a growing proportion of the world’s population will be living and working with internet-based technology. People may eventually be more involved in decision-making about the way we should live. If this happens we need to be better equipped, with more balanced frames of reference, fewer fast-held bubble-based beliefs, less polarized, more willing to take our assessment of reality seriously as a part of responsible living.

The solution: How? It starts in Kindergarten or sooner. There’s something new needed at every level in our education system. We need to learn a few important Internet/media/social media skills. We need to learn about the weight of evidence. We can all find ways to cleverly (or ridiculously) argue about a given ‘fact,’ but what we really need to be able to assess is the weight of evidence.

It’s fun and usefully stimulating that we have a Flat Earth Society, but the weight of scientific evidence suggests that the world is indeed round, that gravity is real, that smoking causes cancer, that texting leads to car crashes, and so on.

If someone wanted to debate any one of these, would you be able to refute their arguments with a few clicks on the internet? That’s what we need to learn to be able to do. Sort quickly through a gazillion terabytes of info and inform our viewpoints in a balanced way.

Obviously busy people don’t have time to be perfectly up to date on every issue, but we can try to do better. One way is to choose our sources more carefully and set them up for quick access. We know that the Washington Post, Economist Magazine, United Nations, and the International Panel on Climate Change each have their biases, are human, and might not be perfect. But we also know that they make serious attempts to arrive at assertions based of the weight of evidence. They make it their business to review many sides of a question before publishing what they consider to be a reasonable version of the truth.

Maybe you think these four are not the best examples. It doesn’t matter. The point is that you could do worse and a lot of people are doing worse. We’re choosing terrible sources for our information. In the modern world everyone needs training, from an early age, about the weight of evidence and best practices for evaluation of information sources.

 

Facts

• According to a new study from Lancer Medical highlighted in the Toronto Star newspaper, dirty air, bad water and other effects of environmental pollution are “killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.” Nine million deaths can be attributed to disease from toxic exposure.

• The same report says these deaths and illnesses cost $4.6 trillion — or about 6.2 per cent of the global economy.

• Forget all the debates about being a vegetarian etc., We are already implementing proven, non-controversial solutions for about 70% of our C02 and methane problem –just not fast enough. They have nothing to do with food.

• We need to focus on 3 areas: Heating & cooling buildings, transportation, and power plants.

• We’re changing building codes for new buildings but governments need to invest big in helping us retrofit our existing buildings, because they represent more than 95% of all buildings. If they made this investment they would create a lot of immediate local jobs, save everybody money on energy, and move North America toward energy independence. All the fixes are known and well-proven.

• States, provinces and cities are moving quickly to electrify transportation, but national governments in North America, are another story. Canada is too slow and careful (on both transportation and buildings) and the Trump administration is made up a lot of young, incredibly intelligent Mensa members (How’s that for fake news?).

• With power plants, again, lots of spineless political battles. Here are the economic facts:

ELECTRICITY GENERATION

I will debate anyone in any forum on the facts above. I have all the backup information to support these assertions. I have made challenges like this before and the lobbyists who generate BS for money have been afraid to take me up.

 

 

 

Trump decision could subtract from 8.1 million clean tech jobs

RENEWABLES CREATE THE MOST JOBS & THEY’RE LOCAL

TURBINE jobs smallMore than 8.1 million people were working in renewable energy worldwide during 2016, a 6% increase over a year before, compared with a decline of 18% for the oil and gas sector. In China, the numbers were 3.5 million people in renewables, compared with 2.6 million for oil and gas. Bloomberg said that 350,000 people were laid off in the oil and gas sector in the US between 2014 and 2016.2 Renewables create the most jobs and they create local jobs.

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CALIFORNIA SOLAR GROWTH SMALLER 2Not only are these real immediate jobs, but Trump could theoretically eliminate USA jobs in the future by limiting the country’s participation in the development of expertise, investment leadership, supply chain growth and so on, in a clean tech sector that will be worth trillions within a couple of short decades. One example: there are more than 2,754 solar companies in California, employing 75,598 people. In 2010, there were a couple hundred installations, in 2012 more than a thousand. In 2014, there were about 3500, and in 2016 more than 5000. In other words, 20% annual growth. And it’s expected to grow twice as fast, or by 200% over the next five years. All states and countries are actively competing for this work. It’s just business and ordinary technological change.

For more please see the book The New Energy Age at brucenagy.com.

Trump cannot change economic reality

People have been asking me about the impact of Donald Trump’s election on the new energy age. Despite panic in many parts of the environmental movement, not much is likely to change.

The bottom line on Donald Trump is that about 60 million people voted for him so that America could serve notice to the world that they are no longer going to pay to police the globe or keep shipping all their low wage jobs out of the country. Instead they will ship brown and black people out. But the Trump administration cannot change what is essentially an economic shift to cheaper, better, energy technology. There are now more Republicans benefitting from clean tech than any other political sector. One quarter of the country’s wind turbines are found in Texas. Republicans recently voted to extend the 30% tax credit on renewables for another 5 years.

Despite his claims to the contrary, Trump is a politician, while clean tech growth is moving beyond the political arena and is increasingly dependent on a very favourable and unstoppable economic wind.

Trump is 72 and has thrown in with some even older, still wealthy and powerful oil and gas people, so due to their actions the move into electric vehicles might be slower in the rural areas and in the least progressive states. Even the Detroit carmakers are going to realize that Trump can’t change the regulatory approach of progressive states and the progress of their European, Asian, and Californian competitors

The talk about coal is nothing but bluster and/or wasted subsidies. Coal is economically and technologically obsolete. And the fate of the oil and gas market is similarly sealed. It will dramatically shrink over the next few decades.

There is nothing Trump can do to prevent renewables winning in the power sector or clean tech pervading the building sector. And in the long run he may slow the electrification of transportation, but probably not by much.

For more please see brucenagy.com.

How can I win in the new energy age?

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ALTRUISM VS. PRAGMATISM  Some of my environmental friends want me to be altruistic all the time. Well I am pretty altruistic. That’s why I spend most of my personal and professional time working on education about climate change. But you’ll notice the word ‘professional’ in the above sentence because often I get paid for writing articles and making videos about clean tech, government sustainability policy and energy economics. I do it so I can pay my mortgage and my son’s tuition just like a lot of other people in the world. Self interest is the reality most of us live with, so it’s important to understand that now that the Paris climate change commitments have been made, we’re about to embark on a very fast, exceedingly dramatic worldwide economic transition, that will likely affect the personal finances of most of us.

The good news about the clean tech revolution is that it is quite simply technological change. It’s no different than the introduction of agriculture, the wheel, the telephone, the lightbulb, the internet or the mobile phone. But adoption might be blindingly fast. Some people got rich on all of those big changes, most didn’t. Some people became more efficient or had to radically change the way they do their jobs or run their businesses because of technology change.

An earlier career for me involved advertising agencies. When the Mac computer or digital photography or PhotoShop came along, these advances changed our business, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. It depended on how we reacted; on whether we wined and complained or recognized the opportunity.

THE END OF OIL WILL BE A BIG, FAST CHANGE  In the next 3-4 decades the entire world is going to be hit by the shift of our main economic trading currency away from coal, oil and gas, toward cleaner energy, building and transportation systems.You may think this is all going to come at you pretty fast and you might be thinking, “I’m just not prepared.”

Are there ways that I can save a bunch of money during this shift? Can I avoid buying into something that’s an unproven debacle? Can I maybe even cash in on this big shift by getting myself into a business that is poised to do well?

IT’S PRETTY EASY & YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO WIN  The answer to all those questions can be found in the pages of a book I’ve just spent 15 years researching. Through expert interviews, case studies and top 10 lists, it will help you easily review the nuts and bolts of clean tech that works, financing programs that work, and wannabe stuff that needs more development, and should be avoided.

You know, all the arguing over climate change is now ending. It’s time to get to work and make something out of cleaner electricity, cleaner heating and cooling, cleaner transportations systems. Click here and order a copy of my book and video app. It will help you with all of the above, and provide a top 10 list of priority actions for someone in your profession or your circumstances.Comic signed

 

 

 

My 5-Year Old Asked…

Dad & Adrian plus pitch 22